This morning is a particularly cheerful one for me. It was raining, and I got to enjoy a delicious and comforting bowl of champorado (It’s sweet chocolate rice porridge best enjoyed warm with a trickle of evaporated milk on top, a Filipino dish) paired with my usual cup of strong, acidic, black coffee for breakfast.I find the gloom of the sky outside mysteriously promising of a wonderful day. No chores, no deadlines, no errands. What a time to stay indoors.
I glanced at the calendar on the computer. It’s July 8, 2016. Today, I am exactly a month away from medical school. I am feeling a surge of quiet excitement and nervousness take over me. There’s no way I’m going to underestimate the pressures of medical school. Nevertheless, I want to keep my optimism at the highest level the pragmatic side of me may find tolerable. Above all the hype brought about by the colorful uncertainty of the future is a feeling of gratitude for having this to begin with. I’m finally doing something with my life!
On the 8th of August, my life would change forever. Perfect mornings may not come as easy as this from then on, but they’ll be replaced by meaningful sacrifices. Nights will not slow down either as I toil in my newfound responsibilities. I will meet yet another array of diverse personalities, make some friends out of them, even adversaries. From this breed of humans I will learn vast bodies of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will transform me into a person of tomorrow–A strong-willed woman doctor of competence, integrity, and service. It’s not going to be an easy feat, but that doesn’t make it impossible.
At this point, I have so much hope for the future. I know, I know. Perhaps a week into medical school might immediately turn me into a cynic. My enthusiasm may be slowly worn off by physical and mental fatigue as days pass. My surroundings may gradually take on an ominous shade that will lend me a darker perspective on things. Definitely not everything will work out in my favor. For certain I’m going to fail, stumbling and slipping along the way. The absence of moments of self-doubt is beside the question. It may turn out to be hell on Earth. There will be times wherein I might prefer to just lay on the floor, sprawled all over the place, motionless, almost aimless.
But I will not stay there. No matter how hard it will be, I will re-gain the energy to get back up and give it another shot. I may not get things right the first time, but I will get them right. Hopefully it won’t be too late. Splashes of bright orange and fiery red will come back to fight off the miserable black and gray in my outlook. I will recall the time and effort I spent on getting here in the first place, and most importantly, WHY.
If this is what needs to happen so that I can make others feel safe and secure, then so be it. I have already accepted that I’m going to be forged in flames. This is the process we aspiring doctors have to undergo to come out as sharp (or even sharper) as the scalpel we’ll have at hand. It is the way tools and weapons are made after all. We submit ourselves to this field to become weapons that strive to eliminate no other kind of enemies but that which take a toll on the body and ultimately, life. We want to be reliable and versatile instruments that work with finesse, intensity, and restraint. This is why the hardest shards of steel are put to the test before they are molded; and there is no sense in almost deliberately throwing ourselves into the fire without believing we belong to that bunch to begin with.
With this, I’m going to be better than my would-be laziness, complaints, and resentments. Nothing from each of us who dream of donning a white coat and lending a firm but gentle hand is expected but our best; because society deserves the best, regardless of race, gender, and social status. Regardless of what time it is, what day it is, what holiday it is, whose anniversary it is, whose birthday it is. Regardless of how short or how long it will take. Regardless of where we are, whether we are inside our outside of medical school. Yes, it’s supposed to be demanding, but we’re willing to dedicate every fiber of my being to it, aren’t we? Otherwise, we should be chasing other dreams instead.
We would come out of medical school fortified with concepts and experience. By then, we have already been tried and tested. We can diagnose and treat those who will depend on us for I’d like to think when that time comes, we have also learned to do the same for ourselves on a medical and personal level. We will go on this journey knowing and believing what we’re made of, and live the rest of our lives showing that not by showing off, but by humbly serving others.
Medicine is neither a mere activity to “kill time” nor a form of passive compliance. This is not an escape or a front. Rather, choosing Medicine is sticking with our preference of fulfilling an obligation to humanity; a stand, a vocation (Did we really sign up for this?). For all we know, Medicine chose us. It is a unique face of destiny that is ours for the taking.
So keep your head up and slay in school to the best of your abilities. Work until you become the doctor everyone including yourself deserves. Become the doctor your family, peers, co-workers, patients, your country, and God would be proud of.
And by the way, self, there’s more champorado where that came from 😉