*As a disclaimer, the author wrote this post the day she finished her first year of medical school and was in a pretty awesome place. Let the increased incidence of the word "I" stand as evidence of her need to talk about herself because she currently feels awesome and full of gratitude. She wants you to know she obviously doesn't feel like this every day and that's fine by her because life is messy and wonderful and its good to talk about when you feel up as well as when you feel down. (But that doesn't make her point any less true)**
I go probably too long in between these moments. Some days after I wash my makeup off and am ready for bed, I look into the mirror over my bathroom sink and am grateful. In those moments I like me - my outside and my insides :) I think I look best sometimes right after I've washed off my makeup - I find this interesting and wonderful. I appreciate how I look dolled up - I put make up on to set myself up for the day, for that extra *something* and yet when I take it off I still feel good about how I look. I think that's because I like how I feel inside.
Today I needed that extra *something* because I had my final for the last of my classes for my first year of medical school!
That's right, I'm basically 1/4th of a doctor now!
And I feel great about that. It's a feeling no one can understand except other medical students. I don't say that to be mean or cocky. I mean that in the most honest way. The last school year has been the hardest nine months of my life. I woke up between the hours of 3:30 and 5am most every day. I studied for hours. And went to bed literally exhausted daily, usually between the hours of 9-10pm. I had to re-learn how to study and I had to re-learn self-care (something I never thought would become so important). For the first few months I think I cried at least three times a week - with one of those times being on the phone to my mom. I drove around and pounded on my steering wheel so disappointed in myself. With very few exceptions (like my mission, right after my brother passed, and a few very personal spiritual experiences as a teenager), I prayed more often and with more conviction and with more tears and pleading than I ever have. I had to learn how to be okay with mediocrity and even failure.
And through the experience, here are a few things I have learned. Take them or don't but leave reading this post with a bit more care because you are truly amazing.
1. God is so very good and his love is enough.
One of the largest differences between my first semester and this last one was my reliance and communication with God. I am grateful for a Book of Mormon challenge and personal revelation from the Spirit to increase my communication with and desire to learn and study about God. As I made it a point to start and end each day with raw, complete, heart felt conversations with my Eternal Father in Heaven I felt peace that things would be okay. Maybe they would not turn out how I desired them, but they would be okay. I know that things have a tendency to work out just fine. That knowledge and peace are stronger when I have a stronger connection, through prayer, to the Maker of all things and my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the time I have spent striving to better know Him and I know I will never get tired of that particular topic of study.
2. Self care. Self care. Self care.
This semester I made myself a priority. While I kept my sleeping to a personal minimum, I made it an essential part of my day to run or go for a walk for a minimum of twenty minutes every school day. usually if I took any time off of studying I was filled with the most intense guilt, but when I started taking better care of myself by getting exercise daily there wasn't a day I felt bad. Because I came back to the apartment or back to the study room on campus happier, lighter, empowered.
I spent more time meal planning and meal prepping - honestly, I particularly suck at this haha but it did relieve stress and anything that relieves stress as a medical student is a worthwhile investment.
I took Sundays off and decided to not feel bad about it any longer. Last semester when I started taking the Sabbath off it was a huge struggle because I spent the whole day thinking about how I could be studying, what I could be studying, how I didn't adequately prepare during the week to have a full 24 hours without studying! And then I realized how that wasn't helping at all and if I was going to take the Sabbath off in order to keep the Sabbath day holy and not just to give myself a break, I needed to change my attitude about it. In order to do this, I changed three things: I pushed HARD in my studies on Saturdays, I spent my Sundays focusing on gratitude, and I asked for forgiveness for not keeping the commandment the way I should have been. Since then, Sundays have become a beautiful respite and I have absolutely no idea how my classmates survive the week without it.
I LEARNED SO MUCH! When I attempt to think about it, I am truly amazed how much you can learn when you are in medical school and pushing yourself to death. And while I didn't perform as well on any of my exams as I would have liked or expected or my old self would have possibly felt good about - it is remarkable that a person can learn and grow so much in such a small time. The human body is quite marvelous and that is the truth of the matter.
I have continually gone back to this thought: the sacrifices I make today, will save someone some day.
Are you a parent? A child? A teacher? This thought can apply to you. Can you see how?
When I decided to be true to my dreams and just go for it, regardless of the outcome, I was filled with an increase of peace, power, and faith. As I knelt in prayer each morning and evening asking the Lord to be with me, my faith increased that everything would be okay. I love THIS TALK by Elder Dennis Simmons - sooooooo goooooood - please please please go read it. You won't regret it. It makes for a P E R F E C T topic of personal study.
4. Being a good repenter makes everything else so much better.
I believe in the Atonement. I believe it is an active process. I do not believe that simply believing in Christ or proclaiming that you do, makes you saved. I do believe in Grace - as it includes our own attempts at goodness and works of righteousness. When your soul is light because you are free from sin, you provide more room in you to be filled with light, gratitude, happiness, and peace. And I need more of that - don't you?
5. Family is everything.
I have never been the kind of person to surround themselves with people. I don't get along well with a lot of people and I don't appreciate going to functions surrounded by people I don't know or trying to make small talk. When I talk with people, I want the conversation to be meaningful or at least fun and enlightening. As I age, my relationship and friendship with my siblings has become a treasure to me. Going through this with them cheering me on and expressing how proud they are of me has encouraged me in my darkest times and I love that. I strengthen our relationship by actively reaching out, by thinking to text my siblings and their spouses individually, and by making my needs known (my siblings can attest to how often I needed a family video chat last semester. And while I have needed that less this semester, it is an extreme comfort to me to know that if the need was there, they would fill it. Because they are amazing. And love is so strong.)
6. Like Yourself Because You Are The Only You You Have
When you take off your makeup, do you still like you? Why? Why not? When you have a really good moment where you look at yourself and you are happy with what you see, note that and think about why. Tonight as I took off my (really nicely done) make-up, I smiled at myself. I like myself. I'm not perfect. I have many flaws - both physical and otherwise. But I attempt to give my best every day. My activities of each day bring me closer to who I know I can be and, more importantly, they bring me closer to God. I work the hardest I have ever worked and I'm doing a pretty good (not perfect but not awful) job of taking care of myself physically and mentally. And I am right with the Lord.
7. Find things funny
Life is better filled with laughter - especially if that laughter is your own. I notice that my days are better when I have found something funny :) Isn't it nice to just laugh sometimes?!
For example, I find these hilarious and adorable:
8. Stop reading into things, Stop worrying what people are thinking of you, Stop judging others and Stop letting fear make your decisions.
Remember people are really self centered and they think very little of you if at all - good or bad really. When you take that to heart and really start living the principle of it, life gets ten fold better.
When you choose faith over fear, you choose living over surviving
and that's tremendously beautiful, don't you think?
(I love the imagery presented here. GO TACKLE ALL THE THINGS and do so with faith :) Be a tackler, not a tiptoer!)
9. Humans are capable of so much good.
I have been repeatedly inspired by the amount of support, love, sympathy and care I have received during this whole journey. Humans are just so good and I love that. I say that with complete understanding and as an educated mind and am certainly not blind to the awful things we do to each other all over the globe and across all generations. Still, when you focus on the good, you see the good. And people are so good when you give them the chance to be so. Focus on the good in people and I think you'll see it a bit more in yourself and that's important too.
10. You have to allow yourself a little of what makes you happy.
Those twenty minute netflix breaks at lunch and just before bed made my life so much better haha Be good about what you choose to fill your time with - sometimes silly things that make you relaxed or happy are important. See #2.
Life isn't perfect. I still fail a lot. I make a lot of mistakes. I want badly to be married and find someone who wants to share their life with me and raise children together. And I don't know why I don't have that yet and have days where the not knowing is i n c r e d i b l y h a r d. I have to repent every day. I ask forgiveness of others and of God often. I have to try to eat less sugar every new week (haha but seriously - why is that so hard!?) I failed a course my first semester and every time anyone asks my summer plans I can't help but feel embarrassed that part of my summer will be spent here, at school because I have to redo a class. But I am learning to be proud of the things I do accomplish rather than judging myself for what I don't.
I fail a lot but I'm a good pick-myself-back-up-er and that means a lot.
Thank you for your love, support, prayers, encouragement, everything. You are everything. Keep going. Keep reaching for your dreams. Keep trying. Keep praying. Keep wanting. Keep being the beautiful, flawed, tremendously miraculous being you are.