I never used to cry during movies.
Those people quietly sobbing and blowing their noses during movies never made sense to me. The truth is, I just didn’t have enough experiences yet. As I grew older, I realized the pain my mother endured leaving her abusive marriage, and I watched the golden view of my father wither away into a person I don’t recognize. I watched horrible things get worse, and instead of not feeling anything during movies, I began to feel too much. It’s like watching a movie where a parent loses their child, and the parents in the audience are the only ones crying. Because they can relate. And now I watch a scene filled with pain or heartbreak or loss and I can’t stop the tears from coming out. Now I cry nearly every time I watch a movie.
More than anything else, medical school is a mind game.
The design is not incidental, but instead it is erected to test you. You are placed statistically with the top 6% of students, all equally as competitive and scrambling for the top just as you are. The tests they hand you are not to see what you can memorize. They are a stress test, repeatedly eliminating the weak. Because this is not a sport for fragile hearts or still minds. For months you will feel inferior, defeated, humiliated and humbled. But it’s only a hoop.
Some are angered by the process – ultimately leading up to the holy STEP1 at the end of your second year. A single test, only a single shot, determining your worth and the future of your career in medicine. But as I was reminded yesterday by my beautiful mother, this is not about tests. Even STEP1 isn’t about the test.
It’s about how you handle the pressure.
Because when the time comes, and you are the person standing over the table with someone’s life resting in your hands, they want to know – Will you be able to handle the pressure? Will you place steady hands on their skin, or unwavering fingers on a scalpel? Or will you crumble?
Medicine is everything I’ve ever imagined it to be. Every day it’s like putting on a soft, familiar sweater – a confirmation of my belonging and purpose. It is mind-blowing. It is perception-shifting. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful and astounding. But medicine has two faces. It’s a lot like loving someone who is everything you’ve ever wanted, but on the turn of a dime, they can become a cold-hearted monster.
The key is to dig your roots, and refuse to let it tear you apart when it turns. Because in the end it is the resilient weeds that remain. They rise stronger and taller before, standing proudly – ready to love medicine at the next turn.
Be a thorny weed.