2017 was a year of gratitude and great self growth. I developed greater self-confidence and courage to take action in both my professional and personal pursuits. I’ve gained a sharper picture of my own identity: what I like to do, what is important to me, who I like to be around, which traits in my mentors I want to emulate, and what I want from my life. I’ve learned both how to more independent and how to appreciate my support network.
Taking the leap to apply to medical school
In Canada, you are allowed to apply to a handful of medical schools while in third year but the number of third years that get in is not very high because you’ve had less time to do extracurriculars, boost your GPA, etc. I was and am still not confident that I’m competitive enough to get in but I decided to try my best anyway! Wayne Gretsky once said “You miss all the shots you don’t take”. If I just give an earnest effort to applying, I still get a better chance than not trying at all right?
I don’t want to fail so I will try hard to prepare well. But I’m okay with failure because I can learn from failure. Even if I get rejected, trying to apply and trying to interview is the best practice that I can with the application processes. A wise mentor that advised me to go try even if I wasn’t good enough to get experience that will help me prepare me for future challenges. He also reminded me that despite each failure, I’ll get there to my desired destination eventually. I am going to try my hardest to do what I can but I’m thankful that if things don’t work out (which is always possible but nothing is 100% certain!), I have chances to try again!
What really pushed me to apply was my experience shadowing several physicians. I was enraptured by how fascinating it is to hunt for clues to make a diagnosis, how delicate yet intense surgery is, and how precious it is to interact with patients. After multiple experiences, I strongly felt like this is my life’s calling. I want to spend the rest of my life spend my rest of life helping others recover and cope with health conditions. I will work hard to become a doctor who is committed to making patients feel like they are being listened to, feels comfortable with the skills and knowledge expected me for my level of training at the point, finding meaning and joy in my job helping people, and be part of a work environment with colleagues that support each other.
So, If you’re actively trying to pave a path to your dream career, you are happy to climb the little obstacles to get there. At the end of August, my friend, Veena, had a birthday party during which there was a lot of “wow schools starts again in just over a week!” and “back to the study grind!”. Veena and I had the same thought and glanced at each other at the same time and had a little laugh since we have been studying for our MCAT most of the summer. As Kala put it, this summer is our “sacrificial lamb” that we would give up all over again. We chose to pursue this path out of our own free will so we don’t regret it at all.
I’m grateful for a team of us working together toward the same dream.
I am grateful for my friends who studied with me for 12 hours at a time for the MCAT, share advice and resources and all sorts of help, and be each other’s cheerleaders to remind each other that we can overcome things that seem scary at the moment but aren’t that bad once we can see psst them. I’m Super proud of them and I’m so glad we’re in this together. Looking at how awesome it is to be around the friends around me, I dream of one day all of us working our butts off to get into med school will one day all get in together and keep supporting each other towards our dreams of becoming a doctor. We can do it, Kala, Jeremy, Veena, Andrew, Aishwi and others!
So, despite feeling insecure about how I stood against all the amazing candidates, this year I applied to medical school and am grateful to have received an interview invite this year. This means there is still a 56% chance (as calculated by Kala) that I will be rejected post-interview. I also don’t know if I’ll even receive an interview from other schools. But, I am still grateful to have had the opportunity to apply, the opportunity to try interviewing, the opportunity to connect with mentors and with fellow applicants. I am privileged that everyday I get to work to get closer and closer to my goals.
I have so grateful for a strong support network.
I am very grateful to receive opportunities because progressing to each step symbolizes the huge amount of support everyone has provided me. Pursuing a competitive program definitely is not just one person’s effort. It takes a village of people who gave me advice, helped me proof-read, provided a reference and offered so much other support. I’m generally optimistic but life is not and will not be pleasant all the time but I think it’ll feel better if I keep reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. I think about the experiences that have led me to want to spend my rest of life helping others recover and cope with health conditions. When I lose faith in myself, I think of the colleagues, friends and family who have been incredible in believing in me. I’m very grateful to our non-MCAT writing friends who have been so understanding about the decline in the social scene and not minding that phone calls to us happen while we simultaneously do chores.
While I worked towards my goals, I consciously enjoyed the journey.
I am grateful to be where I am right here right now. If I only believe that happiness is if I hold an acceptance letter, then I would be miserable! I am happy that I have the opportunity to chase a dream that isn’t possible for some people with different circumstances, such as those living in places where woman can’t attend school, or whose family obligations made it impossible. I’m lucky to have had the chance to study at university, to have the option of choosing my own path in my life, to be able to believe that I can make my dream a reality. And so, I am happy. Younger me said “one day I’ll write the MCAT” and “one day I’ll apply to med school”. I’m already at “one day” which feels crazy and I’m grateful to be.
I try to constantly remind myself that I’m grateful for the opportunity to study at an university and to fulfill my love of learning in a variety of cool subjects. It’s a privilege that I should never forget is a privilege but sometimes do. I forget because the pressure surrounding studying and doing well on tests is no fun but I do love the actual studying, learning and going to school a lot!
Being more proactive
This year, I’ve been more proactive about reaching out and making (totally awesome) new friends. I’ve also been proactive about reconnecting with old friends. In multiple domains of life, I’ve learned to be braver and to take initiative. I wish you lovely readers can also be more ourageous in taking action towards your goals whether that is chasing a career goal or turning your ideas into reality. I also wish that you are courageous in your personal life. Be the first to talk to resolve a conflict. Send a message to that friend you want to hear from. Say yes to as many things of value as you can. If you can make time for it, say yes to that lunch. Say yes to that free ticket to the cultural festival even if you’re not sure if it’s “your thing”. Try it and you might just like it. My life became more like what I wanted it to look like when I took action. This sounds super obvious but I really wish that 2016 me knew that! Rather than wait and wonder when you have adventures, go run after adventures! Happiness came only when I was open to it and chased for it.
I got to connect with new friends and colleagues such as
the accomplished yet humble Cindy Wei
Amanda who I am so glad to have had study + coffee/food adventures with
Sarah, Thilda, Amanda, Par, Sarra, our visiting medical students from Sweden and France
I got to maintain and re-connect with old friends such as
Sharleen -wow, we’ve known each other for 16 years!!
Jeremy and Andy – they are both wacky but soft-hearted
Chanon – we experimented with a takoyaki recipe that didn’t turn out very well – oh well!
Rachel who I’ve gone to several cool networking events this year with including the tasting at Pacific Poke and the Chinese Student Association Social
I presented a research project at a conference in Florida and enjoyed the beautiful weather with my colleagues.
On my way to the conference, I shadowed two physicians (one was a surgeon!) and re-connected with Amy. Amy, Misaki, Rachel and I have been close friends for the last 11 years. The magic of technology has allowed us to
I ran the Lululemon half-Marathon with Veena
A significant portion of 2017 was dedicated to advocating for people to give someone dear to me a chance to pursue his dreams and to treated fairly compared to his peers. I learned how difficult it is to change strangers’ preconceived stereotypes but also that a lot of persistence and patience can solve situations that seem impossible to face. There have been tears and sacrifice that have ultimately made me a more resilient person today. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished together.
We also fulfilled my grandma’s wish to visit Yellow Stone Park!
Now tell me: How did you grow this year? What fun travels and adventures do you have? Who were important people in your life this year?
Never give up, and start seeking and chasing what you want 🙂