Archive | November, 2012

Patience

20 Nov

I am exceedingly impatient.

I always have been — instant gratification is my forte. In second grade, I would trade in each gold star I received on my spelling tests for a first tier prize, usually some sort of sticker, rather than saving them until the end of the week for a third-tier smelly-eraser. In ninth grade, I started dating my (ill-compatible) best-friend because I knew him already and could skip all of the boring, get-to-know-you talk.

There was an undergrad course I took – senior year, working on my English Degree, called Canterbury Tales. I slacked off royally for the entire class – during which we learned how to speak Middle English, and dove into the most interesting and eventually influential book I have ever gotten my hands on.

But I skated by, for an entire semester, much to the dismay of my professor and advisor. I barely tried; I was already heading to grad school and my English grades wouldn’t get me very far as far as Medical School was concerned. In my senior year, I was concerned with partying; with my friends; with that boy.  Throughout the course, the professor tried to push me; I was having none of it. She eventually gave up, I think – many cases of senioritis are irreversible. And then, finals came around – and all the material suddenly clicked that we’d been working on all semester. I handed in my final in-class essay, extremely confident with the results. A week into December break, she told me that “was the best final Canterbury Tales essay she’d ever read.”

The potential is there; with enough pressure, we’ve got ourselves a shiny diamond. But the discipline; the patience to quietly hammer out the details and iron out the wrinkles; that’s what’s lacking. The perfectionist quality many have … well, ‘good enough’ has always worked for me. Passionate and sloppy is my trademark. And, once in awhile, the hours of training click in and everything falls right into place.

I’ve always known that being ‘passionate and sloppy’ stem from always wanting to get done as much as humanly possible in as little time as possible; stretched to my limit, just barely being able to get everything done, ‘good-enough’ is what I settle for in order to be this all-encompassing, extraordinarily well-rounded person. A jack-of-all-trades.

And my impatience stems from an overwhelming desire to constantly be in control.

It’s not about settling, as you implied, oh study partner of mine. I’m not settling into these casual relationships with boys because I don’t believe myself worthy of something better – because I don’t want to be rejected by someone “better”. You say that I am settling for them, but that is simply not the case.

I am not settling for these boys, because in truth many of them are leagues above me; they are kind, and generous and sweet and vulnerable and I am none of these things and I will never be any of these things. But these relationships are ones that I am in control of. I am not a tongue-tied fool when they talk to me; my stomach is not fluttering when their hands brush my shoulder blades. I do not fumble over simple questions and make awkward comments when they are around. My lips don’t smile without me fully intending them to do so; my heart rate doesn’t bounce around in my chest when he sits next to me in lecture.

I am in control. I am impatient, and passionate and a bit bored and undeserving of the attention that I do get because of my lack of investment in it. But here, having the upper hand, is and always will be where I will be the most confident.

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Plans

16 Nov

I have a new plan to overcome the whole “you-not-talking-to-me-for-no-reason” thing. I’m going to become SO goddamn irresistible (with my sparkling personality) that you’ll have no choice but to fall in lust with me again.

That’s a brilliant plan, right ?

Letting Go

15 Nov

For the first time in probably eighteen years I didn’t tell you Happy Birthday.

You might think I forgot, being so busy in medical school. More likely, you didn’t think anything about it at all.

But I need someone to know: I didn’t forget.

 

…In related news, I recently threw out a Coach clutch given to me by my first boyfriend seven years ago.

Gunning

11 Nov

For me, medical school has become a fine line between learning the material I’m responsible for and gunning.

Scratch that. Medical school is a fine line between a lot of things. Between studying the amount necessary to do well and taking time enough to shower, eat, breathe. Between drinking enough coffee to stay awake and not too much to flush out your system in the middle of class. Between eating enough crappy fast food to stay alive, and not so much that your time spent skipping the gym is noticed. Between skyping home enough and your parents contemplating flying to grenada to ‘check up’ on your sanity.

But, among the other lines I’ve had to toe since arriving on this island, medical school has become a fine line between knowing the material I’m taught and gunning.

Gunning, for those unfamiliar, means to know every piece of information presented inside and out; to attend extra information sessions, to do background research on subjects in order to provide more well-rounded answers in class, to go beyond the scope of the already huge medical school burden and take on a few more facts to cram into that sponge-like brain.

This might sound titillating. Do not be fooled. Gunning is a derogatory term in the medical field; a ‘goody two shoes’ approach to medicine, a label slapped onto the students who are found crying in the lobby of the Anatomy Department because their 91 on a test with a 55 average is going to keep them from a 4.0.

Gunning is not pretty. And that, there, is the line between learning the material necessary – responsible – and being a gunner.

Which is tough, because growing up my parents were always the type to encourage me to be the absolute best. Go beyond what is expected of me. But the atmosphere changes, in medical school. I’ll call my parents back home, and they say the same things: just ignore everyone else! Be the best you can be! You can get a 288 on Step 1! … okay, mom. Go above and beyond, it will pay off!

But it’s different in medical school. Because, here, you need people to keep you sane. You need your friends. You need those mental health breaks; sharing a superhero ice pop on the cliff at the edge of campus on your birthday;  heading to the beach for a one-hour sailing session; walking to shawarma at midnight and accidentally having (six) too many beers with friends.

In medical school, these small moments with the people who understand the in-and-out daily torture and beration and soul-stealing-study-sessions are the instants that allow us to wake up the next morning and plow through another session.

When you’re in grammar school and obviously headed not only to college but beyond – to grad school, law school, medical school and the like – ironically, the ‘no child left behind’ act instituted formally in New Jersey but practiced informally in any learning environment is that you are missing a very important faction that is being left behind.

It’s the top faction. The kids who sit in the front of the class and goof off while their professors attentively correct the back of the classroom’s math problems. I remember consistently being handed worksheets for the grades above me – at first, I thought it was so that I would learn more, faster. Later, I realized they were just to keep us busy. We figured very little out on our own during that time, mostly how to appear to be doing worksheets while talking about the band, extra-curriculars, and that weekend’s soccer game.

Putting students in a position where the bottom faction is being pulled up to the top faction is JUST AS negligent as the top faction being left to their own devices. They are not pushed – an entire generation has been repressed, now, since the bottom tier is catered to. Is this fair? We push the bottom tier to their fullest potential, while allowing the top to settle at ‘mediocre’?

The mediocrity I used to ‘veg’ in seems especially apparent now, in medical school, where in two weeks I master more material than I glossed over in a semester during undergrad. The amount of ‘skating by’ that I was truly allowed seems criminal in retrospect. What would our capabilities be, had we always been so pushed?

But this is why gunning was acceptable in grade school. Through high school. Even in undergrad, especially among the students now in medical school – students who have been, for as long as any of us can remember, on top. Which is why, understandably, it seems like here, too, we should push above and beyond our peers; those around us. It’s easy to forget that we’re all in the same boat; but it’s important – for our very sanity – to remember that we’re all in this together. To remember that those little moments – watching the Yankees live stream for an hour lying next to a good friend — is what gets us from day to day.

Remember … nobody likes a gunner.