*College is the fertile grounds to make mistakes. Now not deliberately making mistakes but give ourselves breathing space when we do and by all means reflect, reflect, and reflect.
Sure, our parents and mentors warn and advise us against that action. Don’t eat that; don’t tell her off; don’t kiss him.
We nod; we understand; we tell ourselves not to do it; we still do it; then we learn. Because there are just some things we just have to trip ourselves up on, hoping the same consequence won’t happen to us, and when our hopes are dashed, we learn and have little to lose, in the grand scheme.
So if something errs on the risky side, do it. The more arsenal of experiences we have from our mistakes, the better equipped we will be in society, where our mistakes’ consequences have magnified beyond our control, our fears, our losses.
My semester started with a bang and ended with a bang. Success, but what happened between?
September left a open, long cut. October, a painful suture a day to sew it back up. November, healing in progress. December, a faint scar wishing to be left alone.
I would emerge out of my room, rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed gushing about whatever random things excited me throughout the day, my job, working in the lab, friends, the boy I’m dating at the moment.
I slip back into my room and begin a horrible new habit: anxiety-ridden studying. I tapped into the freaky, awkward, dark, and twisty inner me. The side that vomited, thrice, most weekday mornings at 5:30am for two months; crawling to the bathroom; crawling back out; gasping for breaths before falling asleep in fetal position; then going to class; thinking I’m okay, I’m okay
I love learning; I love studying. But I lost sight of them. Everyday I would frantically cling onto every word of my textbook, notes, problem sets, my mentors, tutors, friends. And I am in no shape to head back to school tonight. I feel mentally ill-prepared and dread a relapse. I know I am strong now and everyone believes I can tackle anything against me, but why am I the only one unsure of that? Will I be able to rekindle my love for learning?
I’m premed, more so than ever before. I ended the semester well. My GPA went up. “The sacrifice was worth it” “It all paid off.” Right? Right?
The next time I’m asked what my major is or how which professional life I would like to devote myself for the next 50 years
“I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.”
Diane von Furstenberg
What I will “do” is up to my control to a finite extent. Who I want to be? Possibly infinite options. It’s just 19 year old you, 19 year old me, reacting to dynamic situations under varying conditions. However I choose the devote my professional life, I will always be a person, a lady, first.
I have a private and particular admiration for my developmental sociology discussion teacher. I’ll expound about the subtle and powerful sparks she has lit into my semester in another post. She deserves it.
Anyways, I had given her a gift and a letter after I turned in my final examination on Wednesday evening. She sent me an email, thanking me, and she reminded me, to remember to always be gentle on myself.
In my parent’s culture, there isn’t even a word for gentle. Maybe for tender, to describe a texture or a taste, but not gentle. In that culture, gentle correlates with being slow, lazy, borderline hedonistic, not working hard enough. But it shouldn’t. I can be a very disciplined lady driven on perseverance and passion, but still be gentle on myself. During my college finals week, I internalize gentle as trusting myself and having a steadfast belief in the subject I’m studying. Believe me, organic chemistry is not something anyone can literally relate to, but we can on a deeper level.
Unplug your clock, turn your phone on airplane mode, find your space, and tune in with your subject. Your self. & most of all, your relationship to it.
To all my pre-professionals, rigorous studying is our life. We signed up because that part of you that fights, hates, struggles with it, loves it; and cares for, most of all, the greater cause you do it for.
This hater needs to hop off and build some self esteem.
You’re fantastic, Ellen! Keep on smilin’!! :)
Darling I love you! <3 <3 <3