Failure…I am Not

One of my two best friends from med school texted me a while ago. He said he is stressed and feels like a loser because tomorrow is the first day for submitting ERAS (see here for a half-assed explanation of what ERAS is) and he still has a lot of work to do on his application. Then he said he feels like an outsider because people around him are excited about ERAS, unlike him.

I felt triggered.

I started thinking about how I’m not going to graduate medical school with my two best friends, after all. Started thinking about how much the whole residency application process intimidates and scares me. Started thinking about how, if I hadn’t been hospitalized and if I hadn’t taken a leave of absence, I would be applying to residencies and going through this whole experience alongside my friends.

I had feeble thoughts of being a failure. Rationally, I know I’m not a failure. But I can’t help but feel that way when I see my friends getting on with their lives and finishing med school while I’m here in a weird limbo.

Last week, in my appointment with G, she told me that when I feel scared and stressed about something (usually changes in my life) I start to procrastinate and avoid it at all costs. I know it’s true. Not feeling emotionally ready to withstand the whole process of residency applications, interviews, the match, etc. was one of the many reasons why I took a leave of absence. I simply didn’t feel ready for such a big change in my life and so many unknowns.

So, G told me about how, when she was doing her PhD in psychology, she started avoiding certain exams she had to take because she was so scared of failing and of the change they represented. She said it wasn’t until a mentor gave her an ultimatum and told her to be done with them that she finally took those tests…and she obviously passed.

The lesson? I just have to get things done. To do them afraid. Or else I won’t get anywhere. For this reason I’ve been trying to become more comfortable with the idea of going back to third year of medical school in December, with the Pediatrics rotation.

However, it’s kind of difficult lately to just launch myself to do things and be 100% committed to my future career as a doctor. Case in point: I’ve barely studied for my internal medicine practical exam re-take, and it’s in 2 weeks. Why do I feel like this? Because I can’t see a future for me, I can’t see myself doing anything, not even being a doctor. And I’m afraid, terribly afraid, of everything.

Still, I know deep down I want to be a doctor. Lately I see no future in me, but I have moments of hope, and I’ve held on to those moments by staying in med school and persevering in spite of all the shit that’s been thrown my way these 3 years.

When I am down and start thinking I’m a failure (like right now), I think of my 9th grade History teacher. One day he was talking about a boy who graduated high school with him and how he was a straight-A brilliant genius of sorts. He pointed a finger at me and said: “Like Dana!” And then he said: “He ended up miserable and killing himself.”

….not even myself.

I’ll prove him wrong someday. I’m going to be as ready as ever when the residency application process rolls around next year. I might not be able to have that experience alongside my friends, but I’ll feel more mature and ready when the time comes. I’ll do it for me. That’s what’s important.

I’m going to do it afraid…and I’m going to be a kick-ass doctor.

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