What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
The feasible answer is to do nothing at all, I guess. However I am not a person who just does nothing and sits around waiting for “something” to happen I am far too anxious for that. So I started thinking I took a moment to be real with myself. I gave myself a long look in the mirror. I stood there sleepy, bags under my eyes…they had a certain deadness to them. Usually I would say my deep brown eyes are vivacious and curious. This morning they looked dull and distant. I thought to myself “who am I anymore?”
The same thought echoed throughout the day as I am rushing tired from class to class. It has been almost 72 hours I have slept for a total of 9 hours. I was waiting for a moment my body hit a wall but I didn’t expect it to do it in this way…rushing out of my biology class. My grades are lower than expected still at a B but my anxiety is climbing. I run into a bathroom only to realize that is occupied. I walk as fast as I can without running without looking scared or fragile. I don’t want anyone to see me. At last I find myself in a stall crying silently sitting on a toilet. Who am I anymore? I know if I sit for too much longer I’ll miss important information. I wipe my face, wash my hands, and practice looking alive. I go back into the classroom trying to bled in until 4 pm…then I am home free.
I make it home. I need to stay awake I can’t afford to sleep. There is more chemistry to be read, more biology videos to watch. I need to eat, shower, buy tampons, call my parents, call my sister, respond to the 5 unread text messages. Overwhelmed with responsibility I start thinking of where I could get some Adderall. I need to stay awake…I look again in the mirror and at this moment in time and space my face doesn’t even look like my own anymore.
I have never been the type to fail…not test, not anything. The only thing I can genuinely remember failing after trying was my permit test…the computer portion. The next day I went in, killed it, and got my permit. I was cruising through the parking lot without a worry in the world. Post bac? Not so much. I had dedicated everything to this program. My finances, my relationships, my fun, and now at this point I had given up my health for the sake of one day being able to uphold the Hippocratic oath…being able to wear the white coat and stethoscope. I can see it so clearly when I close my eyes, but these days when they close I see only darkness, nothing has shape or beauty in it. After going to tutoring 5 days a week, not seeing my family for a week at a time (which if you know me you know how out of character this is for me.), studying, pulling all nighters my grades were just “decent’ and decent doesn’t cut it for medical schools.
I had another moment of bitter truth in the rest room when I got my biology test back with an 82. My chemistry grade from the prior summer session had really done some damage to my GPA. Again I found myself in this bathroom stall praying for a reason for me to not have to go back into class. This became a trend…after trying so hard, working every single day, striving endlessly I would hope that something grand would happen ( I didn’t particularly care what it was) that would keep me from class. This was the moment dry heaving in the bathroom I had to tell myself that I could no longer under any circumstances complete this program.
A large part of self love is learning your limits and honoring those limits. With the mishap in my personal life being close to my family is more important than any other task I have on this earth and I am not ashamed to admit it. I don’t learn well in short stints of time and it leaves me with tons of information I cannot organize.
Does this mean I am stupid or incapable? No, of course not!
Did this mean that I had to decide I needed to find another path to “doctor-hood”? For me this was a no brainer. I had to do it to protect my peace of mind and the ounce of sanity I had left.
Before starting this program I made a promise to myself that I would work harder than I ever have, I would ask when I needed help no matter how scared I was, that I would face these classes head on, that I would give it all I had…and I made another promise that if it got to the point where I was not able to be a happy and healthy version of myself I would prioritize me and what I needed at the forefront. I’m happy to say I have honored all of these promises I made to myself.
Taking my dad to doctors appointments is my priority. Taking my mama to dinner is my priority. Paying their bills because it can be confusing and easy to forget is my priority. Watching my nephew grow and get stronger is my priority. Being a Harmony who feels loved and fulfilled is my priority. I choose to honor me…at this very fundamental level over furthering my education.
I absolutely plan to find a different path to medical school…One where I have more than 3 weeks in a course like chemistry or biology. One where I can find more stability within my own life. I am not giving up on my dream but I am smart enough to realize that you cannot pour from an empty cup. I am allowed space and room to grieve and if no one will provide it for me I will make it. I will never not fight for my peace of mind, even if it means disappointing people that I love. Life happens sometimes shit sucks and nothing is ever linear. We have to be willing to see failure for what it is and do the best we can to stand up again. Realistically this program was not conducive to my learning style. I could have continued getting subpar grades for the sake of speed and to save face. I decided to pick me.
I firmly believe that things happen as they should. I have learned so much throughout the duration of this program. I have worked harder than I ever had and honestly, I’m impressed with the woman that I am. My tenacity, my tenderness, and my emotional intelligence to understand that self-preservation comes before all else.
Rerouting doesn’t mean no. A failure doesn’t mean impossible. Sometimes the most beautiful parts of life are the scenic accidental routes on your way to your destination.
Right now I am grieving…right now I am sitting with the feelings left untouched and unprocessed from this past year. Right now I am learning how to be okay with not being okay…and knowing that in the end it will all be okay.