Stagnation and Resumption

“People are like water flowing in a river. There is only one stream, but all who pass through it are affected differently. Some travel fast, some change their course… Experiencing countless events as they travel down the river of time…”
– “Just so. The state of this room reflects the scenery of your heart… Perhaps this may be a time for contemplation rather than action…”

So the year 2013 draws to an end– a year I knew would be full of many changes. As I now finish my first semester of medical school, it is hard to believe that this was the same year that I graduated from my undergraduate college, went on vacation across Orlando with my family, and started medical school in a new city. College has truly been the best thing to happen to me, with the past four years being packed with new experiences and valuable life lessons. Medical school has proved to be no different on the “life lesson” front, though some of life’s happenings that once felt fresh and adventurous during undergrad have lost a bit of their luster simply because I have become accustomed them over the years. Nevertheless, medical school has managed to test my entire being in a way it hasn’t been before, allowing me to deeply reflect on myself and to alter some of my perceptions about the life I am now leading.

I have to reiterate– it simply blows my mind that in the springtime of this same year, I was still living in our old apartment, dragging myself out of bed to waste time in my last few classes to graduate, and lounging around on the living room sofa to watch Charlie play (and rage at) video games. Since then, it has been clearly evident that I have less free time than I did before. Interestingly enough, I thought I did not have that much free time even as a pre-medical student, but now the amount of work I did back then seems like a pittance compared to what I do now. I regularly start school at 8 AM and end at 5 PM, covering over a hundred slides a day– it’s a routine that I have very slowly become accustomed to. It just goes to show that a lot can change in a year.

The free time issue is something that my med-student friends and I really grappled with this semester. Even though it seems like “just another year” to people like me (and the majority of my friends) who did not take any break between high-school/undergrad or undergrad/med-school, there is a huge change in lifestyle akin to going off to college for the first time. It is pretty jarring, and when the novelty of “being at medical school” wore off, the realization that one does not have much free time anymore was a little… dampening.

[I’m] noticing my heart is less in it now . . . that the novelty has worn off

— Cameron, a former room mate, now at Hofstra Medical School

I would be the last person who would be influenced by others to “grow up” as I simply have never subscribed to the mindset that “once you are a certain age, you cannot do certain things anymore.” I have always done what makes me happy, or what captures my interest, while at the same time doing what I “need to do” in life such as maintaining my studies. However, I have also noticed that one tends to get somewhat pushed out of certain categories and into others as they mature (not grow older): for example, simply by virtue of medical school’s demanding schedule, I cannot just sit and burn time like I could in high school or some days in undergrad. This immediately rules out the possibility in participating in certain activities such as playing an MMORPG all day or marathoning a season of anime; it’s not that I would no longer like to do these things, but my obligations have essentially “outgrown” my capacity to do them.

Nmrn: Why do you feel you need a break from people?

Cmrn: [I] don’t need a break, i just have less interest in seeing them . . . [if I could] i’d rather play guitar or video games in [my] free time . . keep better contact with you . . . etc

— Conversation between me and Cameron

Medical students lead a very fast-paced lifestyle. At my school in fact, we have a test of some sort every 1-2 weeks which still manages to somehow feel like adequate time between tests (the schedule matches our momentum I suppose). The side effect of this however makes a lot of things seem slow in comparison… Take holidays for example: even one day off from school almost feels like I was on vacation for a week.

I recently had to stop and think carefully in order to make a few decisions on how to regard my free time. Part of the way people are able to cope with having less free time is by placing increased value on their work. To be honest, this was a little difficult for me (and Cameron)– don’t get us wrong, we feel very privileged to be in medical school, but the fact is that we got accepted in a far easier manner than most medical school applicants. Many people have to work their tails off to do extra years of schooling or clinical work before even getting admitted; the average age for an entering medical student is around 27 or 28. For these people, finally getting into medical school was a huge thing while for us it was just another year of school. Once again, I am not in any way taking my admission for granted, but I can also see how others may automatically value “medical school” more than I would at first glance. Thus, I sought to seek more joy in my work instead of seeking the majority of my satisfaction in my free time.

[I] know i really need to be more grateful . . i easily take it for granted
— Cameron

To help do this, I had to make a fairly large sacrifice in my social interaction. It just… wasn’t my place anymore to spend the majority of my free time with people whose lives were at a far slower pace compared to mine (do you recall what I mentioned earlier about “outgrowing” the capacity to do certain things?) so I instead opted to spend a larger chunk of my social time with my peers at school. This mainly applied to some of my internet friends, as my schedule did not particularly allow me much time to physically be social with people too much anyways. As a result, I ended up making the difficult decision to leave the IRC chatroom that I had been a part of since 2008.

I do not bear any ill will towards any of my friends there, but it would just be so frustrating for me to always come back to the channel where people are doing the same exact things that they have been doing for years. There were a number of people in there that I did respect (which incidentally would tend to be some of the ones that would talk least probably because they did not have time to kill on IRC) but there were a few (one especially) that were just such… losers… that it would be painful to stay in the channel for too long. It was a rather pathetic display– wasting away at home, just sitting and burning time all day to play games and watch anime, putting “work” into things such as MMOs diligently as if they were accomplishing something (also forgetting the fact that games should be a form of entertainment/recreation)… I just didn’t feel a part of that culture anymore and felt a little uncomfortable witnessing it go on. I still keep in touch with some of my closer friends from #Onigiri, but the experience overall was mind-clearing.

I understand everyone has their own reasons for the way they live, and again I do not dislike any of them because of their choices, but  I realized that it was no longer a place for me. ComputersThe IRC channel was not the only “subculture” that I have found myself waning away from– even gaming and anime subcultures have sort of lost their appeal. Digesting new anime, watching subs, caring about aspects of Japanese language/culture, nerding over gaming strategies, getting worked up over new releases… it all seems so petty to really bother with anymore. They feel like things from a by-gone period such as “highschool” when they still felt “important,” when I could still burn away my time thinking about them. Now when I see such communities online, I’ll browse through them but without the “magic” I felt when I used to– it just feels frivolous now.

It almost makes me want to apologize that real life is “getting in the way” of these things, but really I suppose it is the other way around. These side activities… they always were literally things to do on the side— things to do during free time. I apologize that I am unable to save my pay check (if I could even work) to buy the newest games and consoles.

Still though, it is very important to realize that I am not moving away from these things consciously or because I feel pressured to “mature.” It is a very automatic process where my obligations are beginning to encompass my spare time to the point that some of my previous leisure-activities are just beginning to lose their appeal. It is a bit of a startling dynamic which I guess ultimately pushes people further through life by spurring people to get married, have children, etc… ideas that cannot even compute in my head right now.

I do believe I have made the right choices (at least for the ones that actually were conscious choices) and I will probably come to be more thankful for doing so in the future; medical school is simply an investment after all for a stable career and lifestyle. It’s not like I am completely giving up the things I love to do– I just can no longer afford to mindlessly do them all day. I draw comfort in the fact that there are others feeling the effects of this cataclysm as well. It is a difficult time, but life progresses, I still have my friends, and medical school brings interesting experiences all the time. I believe that my life and my perception of it will continue stabilize this coming year (goodness knows it has already steadied from the tumult that it was originally) as medical school gets further assimilated into my being. Here’s to 2014– a lot can happen.

Cmrn: goodnight buddy . . . sleep well, when you get around to it

Nmrn: hehe eventually. Night.

— Conversation between me and Cameron

5 Comments

  1. balance
    balance
    Rooftop Dreamer
    Class 1-B
    Seat no. 6
    Valid from: 12/25/2013 at 5:11 pm

    It is quite interesting to see how much has happened ever since 2013 came around, isn’t it? We did predict that 2013 would be full of surprises and changes. This was roughly about a year ago, however it feels like it has been decades ever since then. Indeed, a lot has changed (which can similarly be said for myself as well).

    As far as the “novelty” subject matter goes, it can be said for many other activities. After a while, we become accustomed to such and the will find it to almost become just another passing we must traverse.

    As far as “growing up” goes, this is simply another process in life we must go through. Some people are able to do this easily, whereas there are but a few individuals (such as yourself and perhaps some of your friends as well) that can’t help but ponder upon these things. “Does growing up mean I have to sacrifice these things?” “To become successful, do I have to not take satisfaction in what I enjoyed doing in the past?” “Must I separate myself from these things that I used to love?” I frequently find myself asking several similar questions in regards to this situation. As an individual who has kind of lost his way and looking to reroute his interests and goals, I have to admire both of your abilities to stick straight to the path you have chosen.

    In a sense, I can understand your frustrations with some of the people you may be describing. It does seem like such a waste to spend your entire day into unproductive activities and making MMOs something similar to “work” or a chore of some sort. As we “grow”, we tend to find these things to become a bit unnecessary in a sense and become detached. It’s not to say that we don’t enjoy them, obviously. It’s exactly as you have said, “I just didn’t feel a part of that culture anymore.”

    A reflection of how you were saying that “real life is ‘getting in the way’ of these things,” I feel like my “hobbies” are ultimately pushing me away from what I need to do. It just doesn’t feel right when you have to become obligated to do your hobbies. I suppose that’s why I found out that Graphic Design just was not for me. Anyway, I digress.

    I think the phrase “growing up” has changed quite a bit since we’ve been born. It has transformed into something that can almost be more accurately described as “follow society and conform.” Not to say that conforming is a bad thing, but it almost feels like you’re pressured by society to follow through a certain standard procedure and you’d be deemed as abnormal or bizarre to society.

    Since some of us realize this and when we see reality and what we want to see collide, we become disillusioned and become slightly confused. Disorientated could possibly be a better word for it. We are aware of what’s going on in our life, but we almost can’t help but just wonder why? This kind of topic is almost so abstract that I’m having difficulties pinpointing exactly what I want to say.

    In any case, the whole “maturing” and “growing up” are exactly as you have said, “It is a very automatic process.” I don’t think it’s something that we should worry about as we have all the time in the world to revisit these things after we are done with our obligations that actually do require our attention. I’m getting to the point where I feel like I will just digress and miss the point of this conclusive statement. Thus, I will leave with this.

    “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
    -Sophia Loren

    Reply

    • Student Council
      会長 | Class 4-B
      Seat no. 1

      First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to put together an extensive, thought out answer. I really appreciate it because I can read it, re-read it, and reflect on the text knowing that it will permanently be here for the lifetime of this blog.

      That’s a good point you brought up that I did not previously consider– it is possible to do the reverse too and have your hobbies get in the way of what you should be doing for your career. It’s another perspective that somehow makes my situation a little bit more digestible.

      As for “growing up”… yes I agree that a lot of it has to do with “conforming” to expected roles. You know me very well– most of my life has been unconventional and I am a rather unconventional person. I suppose it is natural that this sort of thing would bother me. I don’t particularly feel old or that my time has flown by without me noticing though. The best word would probably be as you said, “disoriented” because I’ve never been tested the way I have this year.

      In the end though, you are right. We join scenes, we leave scenes, but once our life obligations are fulfilled, we will still be able to revisit them if we so desire. It’s better than doing it the other way around surely…

      Thank you so much for your thoughts– I thoroughly enjoyed them

      Reply

  2. Tao
    Transfer Student
    Class 4-B

    Gaming and Anime are something I’ll never outgrow because they are the one thing in life I will always enjoy passing time with and relaxing with. I mean I have my priorities situated out so work comes first then me time. I’m glad you went down this path Nightmaren, me compared to you is a drastic difference, such as the first thing I thought when I graduated was “I should start looking for a job” not starting a career. Changes like that are what makes us human, everyone has a story, choices made that could cause great happiness or deep regret. No one has the right to decide if that persons choices were right but such diversity is what makes our world what is today. I can say with all my heart that these posts have help me given me insight to what decisions I’ve made, to the point that I can proud of what I’ve accomplished and you should be too. Sorry if this seems to drag on. Basically Happy New Year! May things go well for both of us. Don’t forget about me, shoot me an email some time Tao_sensei@yahoo.com. Keep the posts coming for 2014 I’ll be looking forward to it.

    Reply

    • Student Council
      会長 | Class 4-B
      Seat no. 1

      Tao, I am happy that you return time and time again to read my posts. Over the years that this blog has existed, people have come and gone but I always treasure every fleeting moment of contact that I have had with those who stumbled upon my corner of the Internet. To touch even one person is worthwhile. To repeatedly maintain contact with a stranger who has followed my life’s story is… humbling.

      Happy New Year, friend. A year is a long time—we have a lot in store for us!

      Reply

      • Tao
        Transfer Student
        Class 4-B
        Valid from: 12/20/2013 at 8:39 pm

        Not a problem buddy I’ll keep up my support till the end. I’m gonna get wasted new years and play Ys: memories of celcetta and enjoy every minute of it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, bring it on 2014

        Reply

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