November 16, 2015 § 1 Comment
I love those moments where you come across a song, picture or video, or even have a conversation, that resonates so perfectly with the way you feel in that moment that you suddenly feel connected to the universe again. You’re no longer spiraling off into the abyss within your brain. You’re back and you’re normal.
I’ve spent a big chunk of today beating myself up. I’m used to it because its something I do before absolutely every exam I have. You’d think I’ve gotten better with time – and I have – just not better enough for it to be completely gone. Its immature and irrational and the only time I feel like I split into two versions of myself: I’m completely aware of how ridiculous it is and can do nothing about it. In the 24 hours before an exam, I bombard my conscious with all the thoughts of what I should have done differently, what I should have focused on, how there is no salvaging my chances with the little time I have left, how I’ll never learn to distinguish what is important from what isn’t important – the list could go on forever. As the hours pass by, the feelings and thoughts grow stronger. I feel like I’m getting nowhere and the material feels to grow exponentially before me.
I can fight these thoughts as much as I want, but it honestly only seems to make them come back stronger and smarter. I’ve tried many different techniques in the past, especially during exam period, to overcome this mindset. And this mindset is nothing new:
- March 11, 2013: Motivation. Biophysics Midterm: Check!
- December 26, 2013: How do you calm the monsters? Physiology: Check!
- January 4, 2014: Never, ever give up! Foundation of Character
- May 24, 2015: Alan Watts. Maybe
What I find the most powerful now is sitting down to analyze it head on. Where do these thoughts come from? Why do I think that I am having these thoughts and feelings? Am I feeling afraid? If so, why and where does this fear come from? When I do this, I usually find that I’ve dug my way to my “fear of failure” level. Hello again, old friend.
This is my favorite part, because it has an antidote that never, ever fails. Its antidote appeals to a quality of mine that makes up my core being: my desire to evolve and better myself.
In a way, the fear of failure stems from this. Not in a constructive way, but as a sort of superficial, insecure extension of it: I want to improve and failure means I’ve failed at improving (hence the fear of failure).
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”
“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
― Thomas A. Edison
The antidote? Failure is good. It will make me better, it will make me stronger, it will make me smarter. In the end, that is what I want. I know I’m not perfect and there is no point getting by on this version of myself if there are improvements that can be made. I will give it everything I have until the very end, but I will be ok with whatever the outcome.
The video that reconnected me tonight:
Ok, enough self-analysis 😉 Back to pharmacology I go! These drugs aren’t going to memorize themselves.
Side note: I love music and I can’t study without it. I know there are studies saying it makes you less efficient and less able to memorize, but I need it. 8tracks is my go-to for discovering new songs. Here are some of the songs I’ve just discovered and have had on repeat during this 3-day cram session. And when I say, “on repeat”, I really mean it. I downloaded the Strange Entity remix last night and have listened to it 54 times since then! While writing this blog, I’ve had Antoine Malye’s Paris on repeat. Always nice to have somewhere to escape to…
November 14, 2015 § 6 Comments
I’ve disappeared again! I haven’t forgotten, nor have I decided to stop, blogging. Why the quiet? Because I have so many posts I want to write (my mom’s visit, Skjalg’s family’s visit, my first trip to Italy) and so little time to write them! It feels wrong continuing on with new posts when I have those memories to document, but I’m obviously not finding the time to write them 😉
So, here we are! We have only 3 weeks left of the semester and I’m sitting here baffled. Where has the semester gone?? There has been so much going on and I feel like time has completely escaped me (something that I feel a lot). There has been no time to establish a routine, no time to feel the moment for the moment. I’ve been viewing time in chunks: “2 days until the weekend, when I can finally study for ____”, “4 days until my pharma midterm”, “5 hours to prepare for tomorrow’s anatomy lesson”, etc. Right now, the focus is on Wednesday next week, when we will be done with our 2nd pharmacology midterm and our radiology midterm. After that, I’ll find another goal to set my sights on. The problem with this is that all the time between these points is seemingly inconsequential. I’m always looking to the future and hardly ever to the present. And that’s no way to enjoy life.
This brings us to another major thought consumer – we’re almost doctors! It’s an unsettling thought. A big one. Not just because we’re going to be doctors, but because this means that this giant chapter of our lives is coming to an end. In the past when people have asked me how long I would be attending medical school, I’ve actually witnessed them buckle, even if only ever so slightly, under the weight of my answer, “6 years”. This adult life we’ve created for ourselves, this place, these people – they aren’t forever. And that is sad, and its scary, and its horrible, and its beautiful.
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for its not the same river and he’s not the same man.
The universe is in a constant state of flux – that I know, consider and appreciate – but feeling the flux is something else entirely. Its the flux that is always felt at a transition, at the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another. Its exciting and terrifying.
This flux has been on my mind a lot this semester. We’ve made it through the toughest years and now its time to stop focusing on just surviving and focus on where we’re headed. I’ve spent most of my life trying to get here and now I need to start on a concrete plan for where I want to work as a doctor. Is it the US? Is it Norway? Is it somewhere else? I’m not tied down anywhere. My family is spread out all over the world, I have no “home” I go back to for holidays or special occasions. I am my home. And with that, the world is open to me. So what do you do then? How do you even start to make a decision? And am I really at the point in my life where I need to start thinking about things like starting a family? I’ll be 31 when we graduate. Most of my classmates will still be in their early or mid-20’s. When did I grow up?
On that light note, I’m off to the gym. Its a beautiful bipolar winter day. The last of the fall leaves are clinging on despite the wind. I’m going to miss the green. After the gym, I’ll be back home to study! If I get above 80% on my pharmacology midterm on Tuesday, I can take the semi-final during the week before exam period. On Wednesday we have our radiology midterm, which I’m dreading. I’ve actually been surprised by how much I like radiology. I just wish I had more time to study it! I’m not very good at studying subjects simultaneously, so this will definitely be a learning experience.
September 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
I feel as though I am caught in a riptide. A riptide of beautiful moments and memories, of amazing friends, of deep reflection, of anticipation of the future, and of too many classes and obligations to keep track of. There has been no time to process time. And I feel as though it is slipping away from me.
We landed in Budapest late in the evening on Saturday, September 5th. Our apartment felt both familiar and foreign. Evidence of our absence was seen in the flood-shaped dust patterns around our old leaky windows, clearly no match for the torrential summer rains. When we turned the water back on, the guest bathroom flooded and the excitement of arriving back home to Budapest quickly escaped Skjalg the handyman.
Sunday was our one and only vacation day. Rather than stay in and lounge about a group of us went down to Keleti train station to see if we could help at all with the refugees. We ended up staying there for about seven hours doing various tasks, such as carrying loads of diapers from storage to a church van, carrying donations from various cars down to the volunteer tents, organizing clothing donations and organizing and manning the volunteer tent. It didn’t feel like we were doing much, but in situations like those I think it is the sum of all those seemingly meaningless efforts that makes the difference.
The first week of school is a complete and total blur. We have 10 lectures and 9 practicals spread out over the city in different clinics and hospitals. On top of that, Skjalg and I started doing research with the surgery department we had our Basics of Surgical Techniques class with and I’m continuing as a TA in anatomy, with this semester’s topic being neuroanatomy. Plus there is seeing all our friends again, our friends having visitors, etc. For that entire first week, I honestly just felt like I was checking various tasks off a list. Dermatology 8:00: check, research meeting 10:00: check, pulmo lecture 11:00: check, pulmo practical 12:40: check and so on. Did I get anything out of those tasks? Maybe…
On Tuesday the 18th of September an amazing thing happened: my mama came to visit! She and her friend Elizabeth were here for a full eight days and left early this morning. Their visit has been an adventure for everyone involved – truly! I’m going to have to do a whole separate post detailing their amazing trip – with a couple hundred photos. I haven’t seen my mom in almost two years so it was a really special experience for me.
Now it’s time to finally take control of my life again. I’m looking forward to settling back into study mode and getting into a routine. I’m a little nervous about what this semester holds for me, but excited to rise to the challenge.
I’m off to prep for tomorrow’s anatomy lesson. Spinal cord and cranial nerve exits: here we go!