Applying to Med School Makes Me Feel Like My Insides Are Being Scooped Out By A Melon Baller (Yet I Persevere)

⊹ ࣪ ˖ ꒰ঌ Currently... ໒꒱ ⊹ ࣪ ˖

Mood: Anxious, but Determined

Weather: Partly Cloudy

Listening to: Can’t Catch Me Now by Olivia Rodrigo (+ her album GUTS)

Reading: My Figure Zine by Ophazines (You should read it too here) (๑>؂•̀๑)

Watching: The Anti-Trans Propaganda Film Made by a Cult Video Essay by Jessi Gender

Playing: That's Not My Neighbor

Drinking: Iced Lavender Matcha Latte

Perfume: Fireside Flurries by Bath and Body Works

I generally look forward to writing blog posts as a form of mindfulness, but for whatever reason I've really been struggling with articulating my feelings this time around.

I will be attempting to apply to medical schools again within the next few months, and if I'm being completely honest, thinking about it makes my insides turn inside out. I was supposed to apply last year and only take one gap year, but midway through the process and application cycle, in lack of better words, I fell apart. I try not to be too hard on myself about it, I was in a really dark place this time last year after everything I was forced to shoulder immigration wise on my own with little presedence or guidance. I want to be a doctor, and I want to work in the healthcare field. This much I know. Being completely candid, if I'm not doing something in healthcare, I'm not sure what else I like enough that I'd be willing to do as a job.

I'm in a better place now, but everytime I start to work on my application, I feel myself become paralyzed. It's weird. I should be excited to be making tangible steps towards what I want for my future, but instead I become full of dread. I mentioned this a couple of blog posts ago, but I don't let the world define who I am anymore. It's not a mindset that I adopted overnight. It took a lot of hard work, discipline, and a year of girlrotting to change my unhealthy thought patterns. Ever since I was a young child, I depended on the opinions of other people for my sense of self. For example, I used to think I didn't suit the color pink or soft aesthetics because I was a midsized brown person, not a pale ghostly thin white girl. I saw myself as a brutish and uncouth individual. Whenever I was in a same sex relationship, I was always seen as the "masculine" one. Whenever I saw brown femmes unabashedly embrace their feminity I felt myself become green with envy, because why were they able to ignore what "society" deemed appropriate for darker skinned femmes? I always thought that I'd be making a fool of myself if I reached for the things that appealed to me rather than what the world thought suited me best.

Since unintentionally isolating myself after graduating undergrad, I learned to listen to my own inner voice a lot more without letting other people sway my thoughts and emotions. For the first time in my life, I was free from the expectations and pressure of "keeping up" in my life. I've since come to understand that I both look and feel my best when I'm being true to myself, and trusting my gut. I feel like ive reached the point where i dont feel like i need to overexplain my circumstances and life story to validate my emotions to other people, yet im gonna have to essentially do that in my application again, and this subconciously keeps me from prepping. It feels like returning to a mindset that I've outgrown. By recounting my memories of undergrad via writing for my application and reaching out to old mentors for letters of reccomendation, I feel like I'm taking steps back in my mental health recovery even though that's not necessarily true. I don't want to have to verbalize and recount how I felt during 2020, trying to learn acid-base chemistry during the peak of the pandemic while simultaneously being worried sick about USCIS processing delays and the possibilities of Trump being elected again for another 4 year term, and not even having a voice in what happens in the country I live in because my family cannot legally vote. I am afraid of how dehumanizing and re-traumatizing it is going to make me feel trying to verbally articulate why I am American through and through despite not having the legal papers to prove it. I am afraid that I am going to set myself back mentally, only for it to end up meaning nothing if I don't get accepted to any medical schools this cycle. I am not looking forward to "traumadumping" on my applications while simulataneously having to play it off as it having not affected me for a sliver of empathy from an admissions comittee. I know that there's no way for me to truly "go back"— I was who I was back then, and between me aging, becoming wiser, and having life circumstances change there's really nothing that will bring me "back" to being my "old self" that I worked so hard to grow past. But sometimes feelings are illogical and irrational.

I am not going to be a perfect medical school applicant. I've failed classes, I've retaken classes. My grades are good, but not perfect. I don't have a 99th percentile MCAT score. During my undergraduate days, I used to live in constant anxiety that nothing I do will ever be good enough and that I'll never get into med school no matter what I do. I've lived in the United States since I was eight, but got stuck in the greencard backlog and aged out of my parents' application, so when I apply to medical school, I'll have to apply as an international student. Medical school acceptance rates for American citizens are about 40%, which is already pretty low. But that’s nothing compared to rates for “international students”, which are about 8%. Because of this, even though most of my life has been in the States, I don’t know if I have a future in this country, and living in this constant state of limbo is extremely mentally exhausting. Before I finally had time to refine my coping skills during the past year, there were many days where I could barely hold it together. It was a horrible feedback loop of knowing that I had to keep studying and working hard because I'd be stressed about my future, my mental health would become worse because I was overworking and overextending myself, the quality of my work would decrease, rinse and repeat. I had to continuously reassure my parents that they hadn't ruined my life by moving to America, and I was always afraid to voice how I was really feeling because I didn't want them to feel like their sacrifices were nothing. I felt like I was being divinely punished by god that I had to work harder than the people I grew up with just to live the "same" lives as them, just because my dad was born in the "wrong" country. I didn't understand why I wasn't allowed to do the basic things my friends around me could do: get their driver's licenses, get their first jobs, take out student loans to move away far for college. I didn't understand why I had to work 10 times harder than everyone else to be considered for an entry level job, hope and pray that said entry level job would be willing to extend a work visa for me, and then maybe, just maybe sponser a greencard for me. And then, maybe after five years of having a greencard, I can study for and maybe pass an American citizenship test. Just for a piece of paper that will give me the rights that my 14 years (and counting) of having lived and grown up in the United States isn't enough to afford me. There were many times during undergrad that I had to advocate for myself just to be given opportunities. It became so exhausting to act strong all the time. I was always so tired. I am still very tired. That's why I became a hikikomori for a year unintentionally after graduating. I wasn't able to keep the strong person persona, and I was afraid of it costing me my already limited opportunities. So I dissappeared without saying anything to my IRL friends and mentors. It was easier than dealing with the consequences of potentially letting my mask slip.

I am stronger now. I listen to my inner voice and gut a lot more. I have a better understanding of who I am these days. I give myself the space to feel sad and other negative emotions now instead of feeling like I need to act like a strong and inspirational person all of the time. I've changed my mindset to make sure that the only person's opinion that I value the most is my own. I can't change how the world sees me. I can't change how the world thinks of me. But that's okay. At the end of the day, everyone else can walk away from me, but I have to live with myself forever. I might as well be someone that I like. Hopefully along the way of being authentically myself, I reach my dreams of working in the medical field, I hope as a doctor, but I'll be okay no matter where I land. I hope that I make and keep friends who see me as I am and love me for me. I've mastered loving myself and spending time with myself while self-isolating, but my next step is mastering loving myself while dealing with day to day stressors, both from career and interpersonal relationships. I need to learn how to keep loving myself and who I am while being face-to-face with a person who pities me or doesn't think I'm worth my oats. Something that I didn't understand when I was young, is that everyone is born into this world with their baggage of sludge. Some people are born into poverty and live paycheck to paycheck. Some people deal with being born with an absent father, emotionally or physically. Some people live with particular health conditions that make living difficult. My immigration story is my baggage of sludge. I'm still me despite everything. I'm me because of everything I've been through. My history simulataneously makes me who I am and does not define me at all. It's wonderful.

When I was beginning my healing journey in 2022, a book that really helped me was Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience by Meg Jay, PhD. In this book, Jay recounts the histories of ordinary people who came out of their adversities extraordinary. Something that stood out to me was her acknowledging that there are adversities out there that do not have a label associated with it. At the time, I didn't know that there was a word to describe what I was experiencing (immigration insecurity), but it made me finally acknowledge that I was experiencing hardships in my life, and that I as a person, am not inherently stupid for struggling through it. On the contrary, I am very strong. I am extraordinary and resilient for surviving it all and continuing to do so. It is a wonderful book and reassures it's reader that they are not predestined to any particular behavior. The book does contain research, statistics and the history of psychology but were integrated in the story, in my opinion, well. I reccomend this book to anyone needs reassurance that they are not alone, and that they are resilient.