It’s easy to want to be on the path […]
Congratulations on making it through the school year. Congratulations on surviving a year of constant battles, uncertainty, and change.
I think the little victories are much more worth celebrating this time around. The normal we were all hoping for seems a little bit more within reach, and the summer has, for many of us, represented an end to the year-long sentence.
Although many of us are rushing to “outside” and get back to the day parties, the vacations, and the impromptu adventures, I challenge you to take time to reflect on the close of this new chapter, whatever it may be.
For many of us, the concept of “inside” went deeper than the regulations. Based on the hard facts and the science, since the very start of the pandemic, we were all able to safely walk and play outside, be in nature, spend time with our nuclear familes, and had the option to see the brighter side of the collective struggles we have faced as students, as black people, and as human beings. But many of us simply couldn’t. We had to fight every day to not become trapped in our rooms and our heads. Some of us realized that we had been mentally “inside” long before we were required to be there physically, and had previously used outside as, well, an out from our realities that we now had no choice but to face. We fought consuming fears that our family member might be the topic of the next headline. We had to face death itself in more ways than one. We were masked, muzzled it often seemed, and socially uprooted. Some had to engage in deep soul searching to reevaluate their purpose, which for them was necessary to continue pushing despite uncertainty. Some of us felt and still may feel stuck or deadlocked, in a world where the options seem to be turned inside out and changed every day.
We may have lost our footing, got lost in the search for resolve, and found a newer and better version of ourselves in the end. Some, including myself, don’t even recognize the person in the mirror they see today. Others may have flourished throughout it all (love that for them). Whatever it was, we are not the same. We are bruised, but better.
On the eve of new hope with the lifting of restrictions and the decline of new Covid cases, however, just think of what would happen if you never stopped celebrating the ways you grew during this time. Just think of what might happen if you put the lessons you learned to use or continued paying attention to the company you kept, the habits that grounded you, and always kept the degree of introspection that is required to push you to the next level, all at the center of your focus.
What would happen if you appreciated the dust settling just as much as the clarity that will follow?
If you don’t get anything else from this entry (because this is one of the more “deeper” things I’ve posted) remember this: do not get amnesia about the transformation you experienced this/last year.
Don’t let the trauma, the frustration, failed tests, the noes, the rejections, or the disappointments make you forget the whole story behind the progress that was, in fact, made. Every part of your jounrey deserves equal recognition because each intricate detail got you here, to today. Celebrate your story in its entirety. Celebrate you.
Weirdly, I think this last academic year/cycle has put us students in healthcare fields in a special, albeit uncomfortable, position to get a taste of the resilience required to make it through the toughest times in our careers. For many of us, it was a test run that didn’t cost us a patient, a case, or a lawsuit. It gave us some practice for the ways that we will be expected to thrive in professional school, residency, fellowship, and beyond amidst tons of hurdles. Even though what we went through SUCKED, we can now better appreciate the beauty in how we each uniquely react to obstacles.
So, next time you are met with mental health issues and are still required to produce the same or greater quality of work, you may have already strengthened this ability this year. You won’t have to start from zero. The next time you are required to adapt to a rapid change in policy or work environment, you may have already acquired the ability to adapt this year. You won’t have to start from zero.
Don’t get me wrong, I also acknowledge those who did not go through situations that have afforded them a lesson to learn or don’t have a deeper meaning at all. But the survivor in you must still be celebrated.
Nevertheless, before you rush ahead to return to the life of “freedom” outside that you missed so much, join me and take some time to watch the dust settle first. May it help you help appreciate the clarity that will follow, that much more.
Ja’Neil Humphrey is an MS1 at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. You can connect with her on Instagram.