Well, buckle your seat belts kids because this year’s been a hell of a ride. I’m just a week away from finishing my first year of medical school. On a level, that sentence doesn’t even look real, and all I can think is.. how???!? This year has been one of the toughest, most exciting, unpredictable and insane years of my life. I can’t quite comprehend just how much has happened in such a short period of time, how intense university life is, and how much it has already changed me, and I’m only a fifth of the way through.
It’s the little details of campus life that I will remember. Midnight walks. Flopping onto my bed & napping after a long day (aka 2 lectures). Sitting with a cup of tea and talking to my flatmates about anything. The library at night and the views of sunsets over campus. The smell of coffee at 4am during exam season. Sultans. The butterflies I felt when I opened my flat door for the first time. Supermarket trips and buying flowers for my room. Medic BBQs and rounders in the sun. Being massive kids when it started to snow. Seeing the ducklings become the darlings of campus. Never knowing what to say after someone says ‘medicine? you must be clever!’ (seriously what are you meant to say to that?)
Physical growth as a child is painful, so it makes sense that growing as a person also means you encounter growing pains. And my word, I’ve had my fair share of them this year.
Growing pains aren’t meant to last for a long time, so if they’ve outstayed their welcome – chances are it’s because you’re going in the wrong direction. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that holding onto a way of life, a person or a habit is more painful than letting go.
I never anticipated the vulnerability of student life. The pressure to have ‘the best year of your life’ can mean you feel guilty for ever feeling sad or lost. It means you constantly feel like you should be having fun and making memories. (Giving rise to the worst FOMO you can experience). You know this is the biggest fresh-start of your life and sometimes the sheer magnitude of that can make you forget your values and standards, just for the sake of wanting to make sure you have a good time.
I don’t regret anything about this year. Could I have done things differently? Worked harder? Handled myself more gracefully ? Massive thumbs up to all three. I had bad days, and I’m not turning this into a sob story, but as a summary:
I hit rock bottom, and I’m pretty sure I’ve not been there before. I made the mistake of pushing my family away and thinking I could handle it all on my own. And as horrible as it was, I hit that point because I needed to. I’d become someone so different to who I actually was that I needed to completely break down, so I could come back.
You just have to say yes to getting to know people. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t? But you’ll never know what you’re missing out on if you don’t try. If I hadn’t have said yes to a spontaneous London trip this Easter, I’d have lost out on a group of absolute GEMS that without a doubt helped me to come back, and now bring a smile to my face every single day (soz for the sop you lot). Never underestimate the impact other people have on your emotional well being, both on a positive and negative level. Choose your friends wisely.
For the problem solvers amongst you, go figure how this year has been the worst of my life whilst simultaneously being the absolute best. It’s shaped me more than I could have ever imagined and I’m grateful for every good and bad decision that I’ve made, because I’m now the strongest that I have been in a long long time. I finally feel like I’m the person I’ve been trying to be, with a squad that makes uni feel like home and gives f.r.i.e.n.d.s a run for it’s money.
This year has taught me that the worst brings out the best. The most hellish situations provide the perfect conditions for growth. The most toxic of relationships teach you the most important lessons. What can feel like the end of the world is actually just life telling you that you belong somewhere else.
In the *cheesy* words of Florence and the Machine, it’s always darkest before the dawn. (try read that without having it stuck in your head for the next 24 hrs). I don’t know if I’ve even passed this year yet, I don’t know what I’m going to be faced with yet, but after a year of just one massive setback after another, and regardless of results, I’m finally me and it’s finally dawn – thank u and goodbye year 1.