Grit

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:

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.

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If you haven’t seen the movie Inside Out – you should!

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…

To build a home

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.

– Heraclitus

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.

Library hooky 

October 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Today is a library day – and I’m loving it! Out of all the semesters, the 2nd semester of 2nd year was my absolute favorite. Why? We had only 22 credits and that meant plenty of time for studying. If I remember correctly, I had almost all of Monday, all of Wednesday and almost all of Friday at the library. Since then, things have been chaos. This semester, I have 36 credits – and that’s low compared to some people! So, today I stole a day for myself and skipped two lectures…

My goal today is 6 Derma topics, 6 Pulmo topics and 5 cardio topics. So far, I’ve done 6 Derma and 1 Pulmo. Here’s to hoping that the rest of the day is equally, if not more, productive! I’m loving and hating my study plan now. Hating it because I have yet to make all my goals for one full day and loving it because it shows me how much work I should be putting into everything. Progress not perfection, right?

 Food packed and ready for a day at the library. Food prep for the win!

 

All by myself….

  
 

 View during my lunch break. Not bad! Despite the hazy weather.

   

My day was made when I saw that Notability (the program I use to take notes) has upgraded to include multi-tasking (which makes it so I can use two programs on the same screen on my iPad). I’ve started making flashcards for everything (a prep tip I learned for the USMLE) with a program called Memorang. So far, I’m impressed!

 

Update – final results of the day: 6 Derma, 6 Pulmo, and 0.5 cardio topics. Faster than I normally am, so I’ll take it! 

After watching the sunset (through windows that looked like they’ve never been cleaned) at the library, I met Andrea at a chocolate bar called Noir Chocolate near Oktogon for study session two.  

 

I ordered a salted caramel hot chocolate (when in Rome…) and a mango tea. The hot chocolate was almost like a thick soup – Andrea’s was even at the level of a super moist brownie. If you’re a chocolate lover and can handle some serious dense goodness, this is the place for you!

 

Cozy atmosphere, chill music and the smell of chocolate made for a tantalizing study experience! I love to study at new places. And it’s even better when they are special little hole-in-the-wall-places and not large chains.

With that, I’m off to memorize my two radiology images for the day (we need to know 40 for the midterm, so I’m learning 2 each night before bed). Long day of practicals – and patients – ahead!

A goal without a plan is just a wish

October 5, 2015 § 1 Comment

Four hours spent prepping food for the week has earned me a glass of red wine while I finish up my study tasks for the night. Food prep never feels worth it when you’re actually doing it, which is disappointing. It will be very nice though when I have to spend 0 minutes and 0 money on food this week. I made coconut protein pancakes for breakfast (with enough left over for small meals if need be – or for the hungry boyfriend who goes sneaking for snacks) and 7 portions of chicken breast, green beans and sweet potatoes. Riveting post by this point!

Gorgeous iphone4 photography!

Gorgeous iPhone 4 photography!

I have two posts that I want to write as soon as I have enough time. The first is pictures and details from my mom’s visit earlier this month and the second is about an amazing day Skjalg and I had last week, one that I’m sure we’ll remember forever. Here’s a little teaser:

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My future posts may become shorter and more frequent. With studying for classes, research, TAing, and starting to study for the USMLE (slowly!), I’m realizing that this is going to be another semester like the first semester of 3rd year – heavy and hectic! It really shouldn’t be, since 4th year is infamous for being the “easy, chill year”. Leave it to me to overcomplicate it ;). With so much occupying my mind, it’s not often that I find myself in a reflective mood – and therefore not very often I am inspired to write. But these days do as well hold memories that I will want to look back on later in life. The blog must go on!

This past weekend was spent finally getting into a study groove. On Saturday morning, I met with Andrea for a first ever study session at a local hole-in-the-wall coffee house. It’s never too late to get to know people you’ve “known” for years! We chatted for a short 3 hours and then agreed that it was time to get back to the books. I really admire her study style and didn’t hesitate to ask her how she does it. As we were talking, something clicked and I suddenly felt an extreme motivation to study – something I’ve been chasing since the beginning of the semester.

On Sunday, I made a study plan for the next month and a half or so. It’s quite ambitious, but it gives me an idea of what I should be aiming for each day – and that is important! Plus, it forces me to study for other classes than pharmacology – the big one this year. I’ve picked out days during the week for the various topics and then divided up the topics from the topic list for those days. Wednesdays are impossible – for example, 2 pharma topics, 6 derma topics, 6 pulmo topics and 5 cardio topics planned for this Wednesday alone – but I can use it gauge my progress and efficiency. If I only do 1 topic that whole day, something is wrong and I need to reevaluate my study methods!

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Falling short on topics today! Hopefully all the time I saved by doing food prep will pay off later this week. Now, I’m going to finish my wine and review some images for radiology before I call it a night.

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Either you run the day or the day runs you

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!

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