Well this is about 6 days late… but I stumbled upon a series of 50 questions that another blogger (Paging Dr. Allie- another med student blogger) used to best summarize her last year and plan for the upcoming year and I thought I would answer these questions on my blog as well! Not only is this a good review of my past year, but it is also a great way to allow you guys (my readers) to get to know me better!
1. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
This is the year your old granny graduated from college with a degree in biology and was accepted to medical school. (Although, they would probably have to be a certain age before appreciating the significance of such events.)
2. If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?
Endings. Uncertainty. Beginnings.
3. What new things did you discover about yourself?
That I greatly appreciate living independently, but also need to focus on making stronger connections with the people who I love. That I am able to persevere through situations (such as test anxiety) that I thought would prevent me from pursuing my goals.
4. What single achievement are you most proud of?
Conquering the MCAT. Growing up with my father as a pediatrician, I found a passion for medicine at a young age. I also learned about the daunting steps required to develop a career in medicine, including the MCAT. That being said, I had been fearing the exam since middle school. I even delayed the exam until the summer after I completed my undergraduate courses. At one point I felt certain that the MCAT would be what kept me from pursuing med school. When I finally overcame my anxieties and took the exam, it was a pretty big deal for me!
5. What was the best news you received?
My acceptance to medical school. There were times I really believed I’d have to reapply and was NOT looking forward to going through the horrendous process again.
6.What was your favorite place that you visited in 2014?
My sister’s apartment in Kansas City! It was the first time I’d visited her at her place and also the first time I met her kitty, Fritzy!
First time meeting Fritzy boy!
7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
Most definitely my determination (and stubbornness ). The process of applying to medical school is one of the most tedious and detail-oriented processes I have ever gone through, especially after attending multiple universities and taking a gap year. I spent endless weeks requesting (politely demanding) official transcripts from each of the institutions I have attended as well as letters of recommendation from crazy-busy professors/physicians. I plowed through my memory and records to compile every last detail of my random extracurricular activities and work experiences for my primary application. I spent hours upon hours of reflection and proof-reading before finalizing my personal statement at the exact required word count. All throughout this process, I found many shortcomings of my application and made lists in my head of possible reasons I wouldn’t be successful in this medical application cycle. Still I was determined. I’m not always the most optimistic person, but I’m also not one to give up on a goal I have set even if it’s likely that I’ll fail. So, yes, my determination has been helpful this year.
8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
Sonia. Not only is she my twins sister, she is my very best friend and our connection goes further than I can even describe. If twin telepathy exists, we have it for sure!
9.Which new skills did you learn?
I learned many standardized testing techniques (I swear studying for a standardized test is like training for some type of mental sport- it goes far beyond learning the content being tested!) I earned my yoga teaching certification so I now know how to lead people through an ashtanga yoga practice. I learned a lot about formal interviews while practicing for my med school interviews. Finally, I’ve really improved my skills in the kitchen- both baking and cooking!
10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?
I am so so thankful for my wonderful supportive parents. Goodness, I wouldn’t have survived this past year of uncertainty without them. I have no idea how they tolerated my anxious, moody self or my weekly melt-downs and bouts of depression while I pondered what I would do with my life if I didn’t get into medical school (yes, I can be quite the drama queen).
11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
It would have to be a drama with a roller coaster of highs and lows, beginning with the lows of being a senior desperate to finish my final semester of undergraduate while maintaining my GPA, then the highs of graduating with a BS in Biology and celebrating my birthday with Sonia for the first time in a long time, to the lows of studying for the MCAT in isolation, waiting for MCAT scores while completing my AMCAS, and then waiting for secondaries and interviews, and finally the high of getting accepted into a medical school! There were tears, nervous breakdowns, celebrations, more tears, lazy days glued to my couch, then more celebration and some relief followed by more lazy days on the couch! A lot of drama indeed (I will repeat, I can be a drama queen).
12.What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?
The key to living an enjoyable, successful, and happy life is to live in the moment. I spent a lot of this year waiting and anticipating- waiting to graduate, anticipating my final GPA, waiting for MCAT scores, anticipating my interview invites, waiting for med school decisions. What I failed to do during that time is LIVE. Had I allowed myself to let go of my fears and anxieties and instead live in the present moment, I believe I would have been able to enjoy life a lot more, focusing on relationships and activities that I love.
13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
Oh geez, I think the majority of 2014 was a mental block for me… Most of the time, my mind was in “What if…? mode, if that makes sense. I spent a lot of time worrying about what to do in worst case scenarios- no bueno.
14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
Sonia, Mommy, Daddy, Tori, and Shelby.
Tori and I being ridiculous after finishing our final exams of our undergraduate career!
15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Hmm… I guess I’ve always had a worry in the back of my mind that the only reason I wanted to pursue medicine is because of my dad’s own career in medicine. It’s always been clear that he wanted me to follow in his footsteps and I’ve always wanted to make him proud. BUT, I know that there would be no way that I would survive med school with that as my only motivation (wanting to please my dad). Fortunately, while I was applying (writing my personal statement and secondary app responses) I was able to really solidify the true reasons I wanted to become a physician. Those motivations were always there; I guess it just really clicked when I processed through them and wrote them out clearly in front of me. This was definitely an “ah-ha” moment for me in my very early stages of training for my future career.
16. How did your relationship to your family evolve?
I feel that the older I get, I more I see my parents as true friends, rather than just parents. For example, my mom and I have both found a passion for reading inspirational/self-improvement books. I love chatting with her about the current book we’re reading or sharing book recommendations with one another! We can spend hours just talking about everything and nothing. My dad has always been adventurous and fun! I love spending time with him exploring bike trails in Tulsa, talking about medicine, and him sharing his wisdom. He is incredibly intelligent and I feel so lucky to be able to pick his brain about all of my curiosities. The more I learn about my dad throughout the years, I more determined I am to be just like him “when I grow up”. I want his hunger and passion for knowledge, his drive to become the best cyclist he can be, and his dedication to treating others with nothing but compassion. My dad is a teddy bear and each year I find myself loving him more and more. Finally, my relationship with Sonia- boy oh boy, has that been an evolution. I’ll save the whole story for the future some time- it’s a LONG one. But let’s just say, through all of our years she has never stopped being my favorite person in the world. This past year, I would say our relationship has evolved to be better and stronger than ever and I am so so grateful for that!! I love my twinkie poo <3.
18. What was your favorite compliment that you received this year?
Over the summer, I went to my hometown (Sedalia, MO) to shadow a family physician. The majority of his patients were low-income individuals with considerably unhealthy lifestyles. Needless to say, I observed a lot of patients being treated for hypertension, diabetes, and smoking-related diseases. When I asked the physician why he wasn’t suggesting/counseling his patients on lifestyle changes (simply out of curiosity) he told me that he had in the past and it was useless. In a way I understood where he was coming from because old habits die hard and maybe he also didn’t want to overstep his boundaries. But at the same time, I believe the patients are coming to him for treatments/cures for their illnesses and I’m no physician (yet) but I’m pretty sure the majority of those patients symptoms could eventually be relieved by simple (not easy) lifestyle changes. The physician had given me permission to speak with the patients so while I was visiting with an older woman who had come for an inhaler refill (she had been smoking for years and her lungs were suffering), I asked her if she had ever considered giving up the cigarettes. She said yes and that she had failed many many times and was certain she could not do it. I simply told her she has the power to make the decision to change and I believe in her. She half-smiled after I said that. I like to think that I gave her a boost of courage, but who knows. As she left the exam room, she took a hold of my arm and said, “You’re going to make a good physician one day, young lady.” Here I was trying to empower this patient to quit smoking… yet, I left the room feeling more empowered myself. That patient gave me more hope fore my future as a physician than anything yet in my life- by far my favorite compliment!
19. What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Morning puppy snuggles with Nigel! Every morning when I wake up he’s snuggled as close to me as possible and I take a few moments to give him a massage before we wake up for the day (I know how ridiculous am I- massaging my dog?!?). In general, I love the little things about my mornings: the sun coming up, the coffee brewing, and the sense of peace I have during the fresh start of a day. Unfortunately, I’m exactly the opposite about night time. I dislike it with a passion.
20. What cool things did you create this year?
For my mom’s birthday, I decorated a treasure chest and then filled it with 365 little cards with inspiring quotes, memories, sweet reminders on them (all handwritten). I wanted to give her a gift that would last an entire year, and I was proud of the final product! Also this blog was technically created in 2014. It may have only just been born but hey, I think it’s pretty cool already!
21. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
I feel like I answered this question already- ANXIOUS!!!
22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Yes! A lot of firsts! I graduated from college, I taught biology to college students, I applied to medical school, I became a certified yoga instructor… there are more but I’ll stop there.
23. What was your favorite moment spent with your friends?
Sadly enough I can count the number of times I’ve hung out with my friends outside of school on one hand. My favorite moment spent with my friends was during my Hooding Ceremony for graduation. During the school year, I wouldn’t allow myself to hang out with friends because I felt like I should always be studying. During the summer I was locked away studying for the MCAT and then filling out med school applications, and by now I’ve turned down so many friends because I felt obligated to study/be productive that no one asks me anymore! Goal for 2015: put more effort into creating lasting friendships!
24. What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
Becoming a doctor!
25. Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
My worries about not getting into med school (obviously the theme for 2014 was getting into med school- gosh I’m starting to sound like a broken record!)
26. What experience would you love to do all over again?
Spending my birthday with Sonia! It felt like we were little kids again! Oh the joys of childhood when life was so simple!
27. What was the best gift you received?
I guess this makes me sound super materialistic which I actually am not… but I’m super thankful for my new car (Pearly Shirley, Lexus NX) because she’s 4 wheel drive and much roomier!
28. How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
My yoga teacher training really helped me learn the importance of staying present and in the moment. I guess I’ve come to accept my life as it is in this very moment rather than obsessing about how I would like it to be in the future. Of course this is still a struggle for me but I have definitely improved in this sense over the past year.
29. What was the biggest problem you solved?
My test anxiety. I can’t really say I solved it per say but I definitely dealt with it as best as I could and got it out of my way for taking the MCAT.
30. What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
Well this is really random but I was sitting at a booth at my school’s deli and I went to stand up and promptly tripped on a power cord and face-planted in front of everyone. My friend, Tori, busted out laughing, as did I and I can’t think of the situation without bringing myself back to laughter.
31. What idea turned out to be the best decision ever?
Completing yoga teacher training! It was such a great experience!
32. What one thing would you do differently and why?
I would have spent less time stressing over my grades and more time spending time with friends during my last semester as a undergrad. I also had many opportunities to travel but stupidly chose not to. Struggles of being a home-body.
33. What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Graduating from college with honors!
34. What activities made you lose track of time?
reading good novels, binge watching horrible (but wonderful) reality TV shows, spending time with my family
35. What did you think about more than anything else?
med school (no doubt)
36. What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
Strangely enough, healthcare policies… I was told that I should be familiar with the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare policies for med school interviews so I tried to learn about them and I was quite intrigued! On the other hand, I was asked only one very basic question about them during interviews. Fail.
37.What new habits did you cultivate?
Gosh, I’ve tried really hard in the last year to cultivate some good ones and for some reason I just wasn’t successful… hopefully this year will be different. Oh, I though of one! My skin care routine for my face! I’ve finally made it a habit and cannot go to bed or begin my day without my routine (that habit was 23 years in the making). Ironically, I’m actually reading the book The Power of Habits- it’s AMAZING and I think everyone would benefit from reading it.
38.What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could)?
Slow down and live in the moment. Stop worrying about your future and instead focus on making the most of your current situation. I would remind myself that I am right where I am meant to be.
39. Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
I began 2013 with the intentions to give up my medical school dreams to instead settle for PA school (despite knowing in the back of my mind that I was not cut out for this role). I had convinced myself that my testing anxiety would prevent me from excelling on the MCAT, which was an important component of getting into med school. Then, by January 2014 I had decided that I was going to give the MCAT my best shot over the summer, then possible reconsider medical school. Boy oh boy, am I glad for that 180 in my decision! I let that darn MCAT unnecessarily intimidate me for waaaayy too long (actually I’m still a bit terrified of it even though it’s done and over with)!
40. What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
Although received it a couple of weeks ago, my acceptance to medical school has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders! Yes, I am totally aware that the hardest parts of the journey are still ahead of me (the Steps, rotations, etc.) but at least now I have a chance!
41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?
Balance- in my lifestyle (diet, workouts, studies), my schoolwork, and, most importantly, my relationships!
42.What do you want to see, discover, explore?
I really really want to go on a medical missions trip to a Spanish-speaking country so that I can practice my medical Spanish while I’m taking the Rosetta Stone course! I would love to learn about a new culture and explore Latin America or even Spain! I’d also love to visit the condo my family owns in Colorado! I’m the only one of us who has yet to see it and my dad keeps telling me how cool it is!
43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?
Friends- both old ones and new ones. I will prioritize my friendships this year, even when school gets busy and hectic!
44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
Any and all the skills required to be a successful medical student- specifically my attention span and ability to focus. I want to master my note-taking skills and my study methods. I also want to continue improving my yoga practice (this is a lifelong goal of mine) and improve my medical Spanish-speaking skills!
45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
My loyalty/commitment to friends. I want to spend more time giving back to others and less time focused on myself and my own success.
46.What do you want your everyday life to be like?
Again, filled with BALANCE and living in the present moment. I want to feel confident and happy in my own skin and in my own environment no matter how busy or stressed I become.
47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
I want to make a habit out of waking up earlier and getting my butt to the gym. A morning workout sets my whole day in a positive direction and I never regret going once I get there! I desperately want to stop skin-picking (I know, ew, gross).
48.What do you want to achieve career-wise?
- Start my first med school semester strong
- Pre-read for all lectures
-Volunteer 1X per week
- Get involved in at least one club/activity
49. How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
I want to look back at the year and be proud of the woman I was- my actions, my character, my beliefs, my accomplishments, and my relationships. I want to remember this year as a year of acceptance and growth.
50.What is your number one goal for 2015?
I be successful in my first semester of medical school (while maintaining a balanced lifestyle and cultivating self-acceptance).