SMILE, as remixed in the Persona 4 -Reincarnation- album. The song that often plays when deepening Social Links
I sit here beginning to type this post roughly five and a half hours after Thanksgiving Day has officially ended in the United States– an oddly apt delay considering the content of this post. I suppose that’s also my personality under normal circumstances. I quietly reflect and pick apart my feelings, exposing underlying feelings that give me a better understanding about the world around me. With everyone else giving their thanks, today seemed to be a good time to take a look at how life has changed since the difficult period of personal revelations I went through a few months ago.
So to start, what am I thankful for? Well of course my family (especially my parents and their boundless support) and friends (who I would not be a third of the person I am today without), but those have always gone without saying. In the past, I would have also included “school,” but if I were to write this post a few months earlier, it would have surely been missing from my list.
Even after I had concluded my “Truth” series, despite having learned a lot about myself and my life as a student, a part of me felt as if my “prime” school days had passed. I had talked many times about medical school seeming more like a job than a college and in terms of the amount of time put in, it felt just like that. I can no longer live the “college life” that is depicted in movies and humorous anecdotes posted online; skipping class, staying up late to play video games, dabbling in club activities, wasting time in the dining hall, getting locked out of my bedroom, or simply wasting the night acting plain dumb with my room mate and friends on campus… were no longer in the picture. All of a sudden, it seemed as if I had grown past college into something more grown up.
For a while, I was tempted to write a post titled School’s Out to somewhat lament the fact that I had outgrown the idea of “school” that I had built this blog around. While I truly am in love with the charm behind attending school and the role it plays in our lives, my daily routine made me feel like such an “adult” that I felt, as far as my training to become a doctor was concerned, I was no longer going to “school.”
As time passed, I began to realize that I was failing to look at the very aspects of medical school that I valued in “traditional” school to begin with. I mean, I didn’t name this blog Kept After Class because I like doing homework or having to deal with finicky test graders– those aren’t parts of school that I enjoy. I like the concept of school because it a period of growth in one’s life that can never be repeated. It is a phase where one gets to know new peers (some of which become inseparable friends), learn insightful lessons (both in terms of academics and real life), and gently allow others into their own lives through extracurricular activities (both school-based and otherwise). As I mentioned during the epilogue of my “Truth” series, I realized that I had been shutting myself out of these aspects and soon changed my perspective. Once I opened my eyes, I realized that I was in familiar surroundings all along; I was at school.
I really have a rather placid life. It’s extremely fast-paced and turbulent, but at the same time, it’s… serene. A typical day involves waking up early, commuting to campus (which can be oddly head-clearing), attending morning lecture while fiercely taking notes, going to the student lounge for lunch break, playing ping-pong on the randomly strewn tables, studying some more on campus until sundown, and then finally going home. What’s important to realize during this routine is that everyone in my year is going through pretty much the same schedule. Before tests, competency reviews, and holidays, the population in the library always changes to reflect the sense of urgency. What I’m trying to say is that there is a prevalent mood in the air where one does not feel alone.
From studying to break time, there are always people to spend it with. Even during weekends (medical school just encroaches upon your life that much) if one wants to practice performing physical exams, someone will be available and willing to let you do it on them. Because our school is an Osteopathic medical school, we also tend to also have little to no sense of shame as we have seen each other with little clothing and have touched each other in sensitive areas while learning about body physiology (even across both sexes). It’s a bit of an odd dynamic to be sure, but there reallyis an unspoken feeling of trust involved which only naturally makes people more comfortable around each other. (That, and once you have touched someone’s gluteal, pectoral, or inguinal regions, you pretty much at least become acquainted with one another).
Free time is also much-coveted as you can imagine, but one cannot simply take a gigantic vacation from the day on a whim (something I sort of miss from undergrad at times). Instead, ping-pong, pool, and Foosball are frequent past times on campus which by design cannot be played alone. Ping pong especially has become something I look forward to, as we play it to a point that we casually hold conversations while rallying the ball back and forth. I would also like to note that I did not know how to play any of these when I got here, but I was encouraged and taught by my friends because they are just that great.
They say that bonds are strengthened through adversity– medical school can be considered as a similar force in terms of friendship. I wasn’t exaggerating in my previous post that people will stick up for you and help you out. During our two days off for Thanksgiving, a number of the stragglers that did not go home to visit their families arranged get-togethers between some of our classmates to hold their own mini Thanksgiving feasts. One of my friends decided to arrange something similar for a classmate whose parents were out of the country and invited me and a couple others to help cook up a potluck dinner. The plan unfortunately fell through, but I was… humbled that I have a place to be during the holidays even though I am away from my family. My friends and a good number of my classmates are just great people.
When I had a chance to Skype with my online friends a few days back, one of them remarked that I always “have the best stories” as I retold some of the happenings from my life. The comment caught me a little off guard as I had been telling him about my school days since undergrad, but then it sort of dawned that perhaps my life now, at its core, is not that different from what it was like before.
So I would say yes, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for school. Now more than ever.