I liked this set of questions Barefoot, over at Barefoot Whispers, posted on her blog, so I decided to answer them myself. (puts on monocle) Let’s see, shall we?
1.What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
I guess taking a leave of absence from med school. That’s pretty big. Mainly the lessons I learned during that time and passing them on to my future grandchildren.
2.If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?
challenges, change, maturity
3.What new things did you discover about yourself?
I discovered way too many things about myself this year. Among them, different qualities I didn’t know I had, like being analytical, patient, and generally calm. Also, that I’m more of an optimist than I previously thought, and I’m stronger than I usually give myself credit for. I also made sense of my past experiences and what they actually were (not saying I’ve dealt with them accordingly, but this takes time). I discovered I’m very accepting of others, and in spite of differing views, I don’t judge others on a routine basis but rather give them a chance (I used to think I dismissed people quickly). I could go on and on…
4.What single achievement are you most proud of?
Being able to sort out my priorities in life….and making it through 2014 alive (as cheesy as that sounds).
5.What was the best news you received?
That my dad’s surgery in December went fine and that I passed the internal medicine and Ob/Gyn rotations.
6.What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?
My head….no, but really, I’ve no idea. I honestly don’t remember going anywhere different or incredibly special this year (my memory is probably failing me, honestly).
7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
I’ll mention a few: hope, resilience, and optimism.
8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
M, G, R, and MM. Especially MM.
9.Which new skills did you learn?
Better communication skills, and I guess I’m a bit more mindful. Also, being nice to myself even when my instinct is towards self-destruction.
10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?
Geez, this is a tough one. I guess my sister MM, M, R, and G. They’ve made a huge difference in my life.
11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
Well, it would obviously be a drama. Still, I’m too much of a clown to let it go down as just a drama. It would probably be more of a dramedy, with a whole bunch of dark humor. There’s too much happening in my life to not crack a few jokes. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.
12.What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?
Damn, I learned a few lessons in 2014…more than a few! Do I really have to choose? Well, I guess *the* most important one would be that whenever I’ve felt life is throwing rocks at me, it’s actually redirecting me to something a thousand times better. I swear, it never fails.
13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
None (reeks of sarcasm)….The idea that if everything wasn’t going perfectly according to plan, then I was a failure. I still struggle with that every now and then, but I’ve gotten better at it.
14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
Hmmm… I guess MM, my two best med school friends, and my two dogs (yes, they count as people!). There’s more than just five, but I guess those are the ones I can mention off the top of my head.
15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Talking to other patients at the psychiatry unit where I was inpatient, and also talking to MM on a regular basis. It helped me realize that it’s easier to talk to people than I used to think, and that I just have to relax. Also, realizing that medicine is much more flexible as a career than it seems, and if I’m willing to fight for what I want and settling for an almost luxury-free life then the options are really infinite. Finally, I guess *the* biggest moment was finally admitting that I missed medicine and I actually like it and enjoy it more than I think I do.
16.How did your relationship to your family evolve?
I’ve learned to manage them just a tad bit more efficiently. I built a solid relationship with MM and am working hard on the relationship I have with my parents, especially my mom.
17.What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
Books: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield-Jamison, it gave me the strength and inspiration to pursue a career in psychiatry in spite of my obvious mental health-related difficulties. Also, the few pages I’ve read of Love’s Executioner by Irvin Yalom. It helped me realize that what I went through for five years was, in fact, a form of abuse.
Movies: Interstellar, as strange as that sounds. It moved me in ways I can’t even describe. It reawakened my dormant curiosity and made me think of all the possibilities and goals I have in my life, specifically career-wise.
18.What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?
Hmmmm….I think having my sister-in-law confide in me that she definitely sees me as a psychiatrist because I take the time to actually listen to people. Then having G tell me that I’ll be “one of the good ones”. Those two took me by surprise.
19.What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Being spontaneous and just doing what I felt like friggin’ doing, I missed that so much. Enjoying every moment with my dogs. Taking dance classes and having it constantly in my head. Getting my knack for humor back. Taking five minutes every now and then to just enjoy nature.
20.What cool things did you create this year?
Relationships with new (and ‘old’) people. As for material things, I’m working on forcing myself to sketch frequently.
21.What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
Worried sick and stressed! I still am, but to a lesser degree….I think.
22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
I stood up for myself. See this post.
23.What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?
I think seeing my two best friends after getting out of hospital in April. They were really understanding of my situation, made me feel like I actually mean a lot to them.
24.What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
Eh…I don’t think I did anything in particular, it was more of an attitude change that is going to help me reach my goal of being a psychiatrist. Also, this twisted plan I have in my head of living in another country for a while might be more do-able than I thought (it’s still just an idea, but I’m making plans in my head).
25.Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
Whether I graduate med school in 2015 or 2016, with my friends or not…and whether others would accept me mental illness and all. I don’t really give two fucks about that anymore. Whoever wants to miss out on my awesomeness, it’s their loss. That’s not to say I don’t struggle with those ideas every now and then, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my opinion of myself is all that matters.
26.What experience would you love to do all over again?
Yikes….I’d say standing up for myself is something I definitely want to do all over again and keep doing in the future. Also, cleaning and reorganizing my room these last couple of days. I strive to live sans clutter because it gives me peace and freedom in a way nothing else does.
27.What was the best gift you received?
The journal M gave me that says “Keep calm and write on”. It meant a lot to me because it was completely unexpected and it really solidified the idea that I actually meant something to her as a patient and person. Also, a note my sister gave me in Christmas that says: “This is going to be really cheesy…are you ready?….The best gift this year was to find a friend/sister in you.”
28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
That life isn’t at all simple, that there are dark moments but there are also very enjoyable moments and that I shouldn’t dwell too much on the insignificant day-to-day minutiae (still working on that).
29.What was the biggest problem you solved?
Taking care of my health while simultaneously being a medical student. All it takes is talking, being honest and not afraid of others’ opinions. And if they do have a negative opinion of you for putting yourself first, then they can gently place that opinion up their ass.
30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
Passing a kidney stone on my parent’s wedding anniversary. After spending the night at the ER with me, my mom made me promise that when I have a salary I’ll give them a nice night out at a fancy restaurant to make up for that.
31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
I have no clue.
32.What one thing would you do differently and why?
My attitude during third year of med school. Granted, being depressed doesn’t help, but there were a lot of things I could have actually put in some effort into doing differently. Maybe then I would have felt like I was actually learning and enjoying the experience, rather than trudging along and hoping I would be let out of hospital early every day.
33.What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Again, finally standing up for myself when the Ex’s wife came knocking on my door (figuratively speaking). Also, not letting two judgmental pediatricians knock me down with their condescending comments and looks.
34.What activities made you lose track of time?
Writing in my journal, having sessions with G and R, spending time with MM, dance classes…
35.What did you think about more than anything else?
My future. And not just about my career, but about whether or not I want to live. It’s a question I struggle with almost on a daily basis.
36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
Mental health and myself.
37.What new habits did you cultivate?
Not being quick to judge, a bit of mindfulness, and cleaning my room more frequently.
38.What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could?
Relax and enjoy the ride, damn it. You’re here for a reason! Also, don’t open that stupid LinkedIn account, it’s pointless…and never put a crush before yourself.
39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
Everything about myself did a complete 180, mostly relating to my mental health and outlook on life. The things I held to be true about myself are not so true anymore. I’m more complicated than I thought.
40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
Again, I have to say this all boils down to M, R, G, and MM.
41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?
Remaining active, doing things I’ve always dreamed of doing, not procrastinating. Basically: “Let’s get down to business.” and “Just do it.”
42.What do you want to see, discover, explore?
Ah! Doing visiting rotations in a state far, far away! And doing international rotations….as many as I can. Living and managing on my own, proving to myself that I can do it.
43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?
New people, new faces.
44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
- A foreign language
- Daily sketching
- A successful interview with a psychiatric patient, without becoming a complete mush of nerves and anxiety
- My flexibility and being “in the zone” in dance class
- Keep improving my conversational skills
- My self-esteem and career-confidence
- Actually reaching goals
45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
Patience. I don’t think you could ever have enough patience.
46.What do you want your everyday life to be like?
Fulfilling. No matter what I’m doing, I want it to be fulfilling.
47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
I want to cultivate the whole “think happy thoughts”. I’ve been conditioned from an early age to always expect the worst and never be hopeful or optimistic. Also, I want to stop thinking every day about what time I’ll be let out of the hospital, I just want to enjoy my time working there. I want to get rid of my laziness and inactivity.
48.What do you want to achieve career-wise?
Learn as much as I can about every discipline I encounter, in addition to psychiatry. Being more dedicated to the research team I work with and possibly publishing a paper. Doing a rotation in a place far, far away! And finally, feeling comfortable in my own two shoes as a medical student.
49.How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
I want to remember 2015 as the year I actually set out to reach my goals, the year I lived in a place far away on my own, the year I started to look to the present and future instead of the past.
50.What is your number one goal for 2015?
Be promoted to fourth year of medical school and set out to actually do things in the world! JUST DO IT!