I hope you didn’t come here expecting fantastical tales of unbelievable feats and achievements. If you did, well, sorry I click-baited you but also feel free to keep reading (aka not sorry). I like to think I have discovered a few talents throughout my life. Dancing. Writing. Public speaking. But my greatest and most fruitful talent to date is studying. Here we go again you’re thinking, this self-professed medical prodigy is about to brag even more about her academic achievements. It’s not my intention and I think I’ve done enough of that already (cue past post), but I haven’t planned on how this post is going to end so no guarantees.
My entire life up til this point has been consumed by my education and it is safe to say I have done very little else. Since the age of 5 my daily routine has been centred around going to school and getting good grades, and now almost 20 years later nothing has changed. And by nothing I mean I am even more stressed and perpetually terrified of the wealth of knowledge I am yet to squeeze into my already overcrowded brain. It is therefore not too big of an exaggeration to conclude that being a student is all I know. And boy, am I good at it. Now, you are probably conjuring vivid images of me slouched over a textbook, straining my eyes day and night whilst being kept awake by a perpetual flow of caffeine. Wrong. Instead, visualise me spending a lot of time watching YouTube and making a very regular (and grandma-esque) bedtime of 10pm.
So, how the hell can I boast about high distinctions and academic awards if I confess to spending more time procrastinating than actual study? Before anyone decides to call me out as a liar and tries to lynch me for claiming I don’t work as hard as it seems, I want to make it clear I am not lying. I have never said I don’t put the effort in (and trust me once exam period hits I am scrambling to absorb as much notes as possible), but for the amount of work I believe I put in I am always pleasantly surprised at just how well I do. If you don’t believe me just ask my parents. Throughout the final year of high school every time my dad walked into my room he found me watching television shows. It took me three weeks to completely rewatch “Chuck” and I still like to think it was worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I always completed my work and remained towards the top of the year level during assessments, but it completely unnerved my parents and I was yelled at more than once for being lazy and wasting time. By the time it was the end of year and exams hit, they were resigned to me doing well, but not outstanding.
And we all know how that turned out. So how did I manage it? I’ve put it mainly down to two things. Firstly, being genetically blessed with an above average short term memory so that I am able to cram large volumes of information just in time to sit my exams (sorry to those who weren’t born with that). And secondly, not studying hard. When my high school invited me back to present a speech for being the dux of my year in 2013, I only had one piece of advice for them. Study smart, not hard. You could be burning the midnight oil every day and still not be able to achieve the progress you desire if you are not picking the right things to focus on. Figuring out what is important and prioritising where your time and efforts should go is key, and it can prevent burnout and exhaustion. I’ve carried that motto ever since and it hasn’t failed me yet. Sure, I’ve never been in the top of the cohort throughout my medical degree, but I still do pretty well and am very happy with my achievements. You’ve got to pick your battles and sometimes it’s just not worth it. I want to do well and be a competent doctor, but I also cannot bring myself to always be studying.
I want to at this point say something that I’ve been thinking more and more about as of late. I mentioned before that being a student is all I know, and whilst I am looking forward to finally be a working member of society and be free of that label, a part of me wants to remain like this forever.
For some it sounds hideous. A lifetime of study? They’d rather die. But I find comfort and security in it. The life of a student whilst is not as rewarding or interesting as a member of the workforce, is a life of blissful ignorance and freedom. There is a certain joy that comes with being in the outskirts of every medical team I’ve shadowed, free of responsibility and accountability. If I encounter something I don’t understand or perhaps do not enjoy, I simply walk away without a care in the world. It is a very selfish thought, but if I could live as a student for the rest of my life without worrying about the obvious financial crisis and societal judgement that comes with it, I probably would. But alas, that is not possible. Whether I like it or not this safety net needs to be taken away from under me and I have to leap blindly into the unknown with faith that everything will be okay.
So that’s my greatest talent. Gosh, I do sound like an arrogant twat don’t I? Thank you for indulging me and I apologise if this seemed like an uncomfortably self-absorbed post, I don’t mean to rub anything in people’s faces or boast of my intelligence. I asked myself what am I truly good at and this is what came to mind. Plus, it’s a nice skill to have, and since I will continue to sit exams well into my thirties I’m feeling pretty thankful. Therefore I am going to enjoy my final twelve months as an official student and bask in the luxury of having zero responsibilities before finally beginning a new chapter of my life. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.