Nov. 30th, 2016 12:07 am
autumnsoliloquy90: (Default)
[personal profile] autumnsoliloquy90

I guess it is rather early to start looking back on the year, since there's still one more month to go. But I do feel like I've experienced so many things this year and gone through so many transformations up till now. 2016 might not have been the best year for the world in general, but it definitely has been one of the best years I've had in my rather inexperienced life thus far.

My personal goal at the beginning of the year was basically to learn how to let things go, specifically emotional baggage that has been weighing me down all of this time. It wasn't easy, still isn't, but I'm glad I've slowly matured to the point where I've accepted things as fact of life. I wonder if that means I've giving up all my naive ideals? I guess it's just a matter of realizing that many things in life are out of my control, so it's best to just keep my ideals for when the time comes that they are needed.

I've been traveling! Mostly for professional reasons, but I've really overcome my phobia of traveling alone, which developed over the years after some traumatic experiences. I've seen and experienced firsthand the healthcare systems of at least three (or four, if you count the Netherlands) countries this year alone. Going back to Singapore was bittersweet, because although I was glad to be back with family and friends, it was very clear to me that going back to train would be disadvantageous for my career and also financially speaking. There is also an undercurrent of xenophobia that makes me wonder if I truly still know Singapore that I grew up with. In their eyes, would they see me as foreigner despite having spent much of my formative years over there? It's hard to accept sometimes, but i think slowly with time i would accept this along with everything else I've had to come to terms with.

Oxford was the highlight of my year. I've seen my first bypass operation, learnt a lot about surgical innovation through engagement in clinical research, actually practiced medicine at the bedside in English for once. I was still foreign in their eyes but I've never felt more comfortable in my skin than ever before. I made a lot of friends from all over the world, ranging from my own compatriots (whom I really should befriend more often) to people whose background differed so widely from my own.

It's not just oxford actually. I've decided this year that I wouldn't be desperate in making friends anymore, but it didn't mean I wouldn't try socializing at all. This year has been the peak of my social life albeit still rather dry, but at least I tried. Talked to all kinds of people. Learnt from their cultures as genuinely as I could. Ate jollof rice for the first time. Went shisha smoking with an unlikely friend for the first time. Made new memories in local places with painful old ones. Went punting with friends for the first time.

Tried socializing and networking in various congresses and medical conferences by myself for the first time. I hate networking, felt disgusted with myself for attempting self-promotion with an elevator pitch but at least it was an experience. I did manage to get some contacts from these events anyway. Did a Skype interview for the first time, and actually aced it by being authentic and not feeling like I need to impress them. Actually managed to get a prestigious research scholarship in the US as a result. This year I could feel myself slowly building up the remnant of my lost self-confidence of the past seven years.

I still felt alienated when I was at the Dutch summer school, but you know what? The landscape was great, it was my first time in the Netherlands. It actually piqued my interest in transplantation and lab research. I've met students younger than me and realised I don't need to compare their lives with my own at that age. I had my own struggles and difficulties to overcome in med school and life in Germany that most people didn't. I wouldn't say I made many connections there, but I've talked to each and every other participant trying to learn from their lives and wonder at the great diversity of medical student experience.

I've sutured a patient's skin for the first time, and many others thereafter. I've gotten a lot of insight into the profession, clinical life, personal lives of senior doctors, political intrigues and healthcare system conundrums. Most of the time it confused me, but it also reminded me every single time that it is, indeed, a fucking privilege to be able to practise this profession. Warts and all. This was my childhood dream after all.

I've seen sexism rearing its ugly head many times. I've also seen women succeeding in male-dominated areas, which really inspire me to do the same. I've seen female seniors be castigated in their personal lives for their dedication to the profession, because the society refuses to change the system. I've also seen that there are, after all, a few good men in this world, except they're all taken. 😅

I've seen my first shock patient during a night shift with a doctor. I've seen a patient I've gotten too emotionally attached to deteriorate and find out the next day she has passed away. I couldn't stop thinking about my exam patient whom I later found out had ended up in ICU, when I finally fulfilled my promise of visiting her after the exam. It made me wonder if I'm too soft for this, but maybe this is a comforting sign I still have humanity left in me.

It's sometimes quite hard to deal with more experienced doctors and their frustration with our inexperience but I've eventually come to hold them in respect for what they do nevertheless. Someone once said, there are many excellent doctors but very few who are real. So when you meet the real ones, and you know it when they're real, you just gotta respect them. I'd like to be a real one in the future.

I've recently learnt to be proud of my achievements, having finished med school in a language that still tastes foreign to my tongue. But I'm even prouder to be in the company of other foreign med students who've struggled more than I have, navigating this labyrinth of bureaucracy and studying medicine in a foreign language, all whilst having to somehow figure out how they're going to finance their studies. They might have taken longer to finish than the average local student; they might have gotten average grades throughout med school, but to me, they are true experts of Life. They might probably not really consider me as anything more than a university acquaintance, but I truly have a lot of respect for them and I've learnt many things from them regarding resilience.

I've started working at a research laboratory for the first time. I thought it would be quite difficult to go back to being a noob again after a year of practical experience at the clinics but actually it's fine. Learning new skills is always an exciting challenge. I can't wait to work hard at this new set of skills. I can't wait to fly to a new country I've never been before and hopefully, this time migration would be a positive experience. I can't wait for the diverse range of people I'd meet while I'm over there. Let's just hope research academia doesn't kill my jive.

I can't wait for my graduation ceremony. I think I might cry because of the maelstrom of emotions the whole of med school just evokes in me. I can't wait to see my parents, to have our whole family together in one place again for the first time in years. I'm really thankful to whoever is up there for giving me these two people as my parents. They're flawed, but they tried their best in their limited experience of the world. They really gave their best, and without them I wouldn't be here. My mother is my best friend in the whole wide world. She often tells me I have problems trusting people (which is true, who wouldn't when you've been living in social isolation for years) but if there's one person I trust the most it's her. I'm proud of them. Both of them never went to college because of financial reasons, they both hail from backwater countryside in a third world country, and yet here they are, they've managed to put their two daughters to university and masters and med school in fucking Europe. If that ain't badass then I don't know what is. 🙌

I still feel guilty sometimes though, having lived so far away from them all these years. I'm really grateful they were willing to let us go and fly far away to pursue our dreams. Perhaps becoming a mother and wife is out of the cards for me but I really hope that being a filial daughter is one role I could excel in this life.

Sometimes I really have faith envy. Religion is the best antidepressant of all, but I'm not immune to it, or I've developed a tolerance after years of chronic religiosity in my teenage years. There's a huge sense of stability and self-confidence in having spiritual faith. Unfortunately faith is something you can't fabricate. No matter how much you worship or attend services, you know deep inside how genuine your belief truly is. And if there's anything i hate more than anything, it's being fake. Especially to myself. It's unfortunate, but I truly wonder if I could ever regain this loss, among other losses, one day.

I hope December would still teach me more things and let me experience more firsts in life. And I hope that when feelings of sadness come a'knocking as they often do once in a while, I'll be better equipped to face them and experience them rather than running away.


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December 2016

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