*This was written 2/3/2020, the day I received word I was not accepted into medical school.
I tried to prepare myself. I knew it was a coin flip at the end of the day. But there is always some small part of you that doesn’t acknowledge the possible reality of failure. You can be the most rational, objective, even robotic person out there, but this part of you still exists. You may know the odds to perfection, but that part of you will still feel blindsided. This is the part that is crushed when the letter is read and the verdict is passed. The alternate futures you were holding in your mind instantly reduce to the one reality that is. That’s when emotions and feelings start to secure more of your consciousness. That’s when all the questions you never wanted to think about slowly trickle into your awareness.
I was officially rejected from medical school today. It was a long, tired process that was not improved by the preceding months of waiting and radio silence. I told myself the waiting was the worst part. The feeling of dangling in the air and not knowing where you would be in the future. I told myself it would simply be a relief to know. To know whether the upcoming fall I would be beginning to act out my goal of becoming a doctor, or if I would need to buckle down for another year of applications and waiting. Either way, it would be better than the waiting.
I was wrong. The rejection and objective failure were worse. The wave of emotion that immediately hit after scanning the email (because obviously with such important news you don’t actually read the email, you just quickly search for the words that give you your answer) was worse. It revealed that I did not match into a school and that I would be placed on a waiting list. And yes, it is beautifully ironic that after months of waiting I can now officially start waiting on a formal list of some sort.
I’ve have been very interested in the idea of narrative. The idea that we live through stories, and that we indeed act out our own story. This, mixed with some sense of spirituality, stoicism, and a curious desire to understand what we do and why we do things, led me to what may be the most profound realization of my life: We cannot control what happens to us, the objective realities of our lives, but we get to write our story. We get to connect the dots of our past in any way we see fit. This becomes our guide to the future, and the thing we always take with us.
It’s the same realization as the other banalities everyone has heard before. “Everything happens for a reason.” “It’s all part of a bigger plan.” While it is clear to me these statements symbolize the same idea as my self narrative representation, I cannot ignore the dismissive and slightly repulsive feeling in my gut when someone tells me “everything happens for a reason.” Such is life, and now I understand what everyone actually means. There is wisdom hardwired into everything around us, but we simply can’t access it until is is metaphorically spoon fed to us. And even that may require multiple attempts.
So now I am at the point were I get to start connecting the dots. I get to create the ‘why I did not get into medical school’ and decide what that means for me going forward. The key insight is that you can do this in any number of ways. And as long as you are honest, there is no one story that is more credible than another. However, all stories are not created equal and all stories are not equally useful. Some stories don’t help us get to where we want to go. Some stories lead us down paths that take us deeper and deeper into our very own personal hells. Cherish your story.
Maybe this can shed some perspective on anyone struggling with rejection or failure in their life. If you enjoyed the above post, maybe this would also peak your interest. I will continue to put together my story and invite you to share yours.
*As of 4/8/2020 I was accepted into medical school off of the waitlist. I was lucky to be forced to deal with the failure first.