Writing Your Story

*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.

Best explorations


5; 4/4/2020

*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.

Why Myth?


One method of exploration I would like to try here is presentation of a quote and a reflection. This of course is just my narrow interpretation of some idea, but perhaps it can be inspiring enough to provoke thought or incite further investigation.

“The individual, through prolonged psychological disciplines, gives up completely all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears, no longer resists the self-annihilation that is prerequisite to rebirth in the realization of truth, and so becomes ripe, at last, for the great at-one-ment. His personal ambitions being totally dissolved, he no longer tries to live but willingly releases to whatever may come to pass in him.” – Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

If you are unfamiliar with The Hero With a Thousand Faces, I have to start by recommending the book. It would not qualify as an easy read, but I think most would have no trouble understanding the bulk of the ideas presented. In this work, Joseph Campbell presents the archetypal myth through its many different constellations. He highlights the seemingly unmistakable similarities found in stories originating from all stretches of civilization. The ubiquity of the over-arching principles leads one to the possibility of autochthonous generation of a story common to all human kind. As if the need to tell this story is somehow programmed in our DNA. I would lean towards the idea that these commonalities are found in a psychological realm, the collective unconscious, but either way, the story seems attached to our existence. In fact, I would say it is the story of our existence.

A beautiful aspect of our nature is the ability to attribute mental states to things around us, known as a theory of mind. This is the phenomena that allows us to be captivated with movies, books, and generally any social situation. It is the risk-free version of living different lives. This is the ability to infer another person’s emotions, drives, and potential actions, simply based on some limited set of information. Mind you, this all is taking place in some sort of psychological space. No physical interaction with matter is required. We are allowed to set up and run infinitely varied simulations of reality from the comfort of our own psyche.

What if the archetypal myth is the through line of beneficial psychological simulation? What if understanding this story allows us to become more suited for survival? What if this story instills in us the very adaptability that has given Homo sapiens such an advantage up to this point? If true, it is clear there would be a survival benefit to these ideas, and those species who where unable to develop such stories would be at a sizable disadvantage. I would like to bring your attention back to the fact that we see some version of this myth arise repeatedly throughout the world, and in many circumstances with no connection to previous incarnations of the story. The story seems to force its way out of us, coming into existence colored with the particular culture and time of its emergence.

When we read a book, watch a movie or series, what are we actually doing? Do we not suspend disbelief and place ourselves at the center of the situation being portrayed? The camera crew we know to be behind the shot never touches our consciousness, and we simply immerse ourselves in the situation being constructed. Does true art not make us feel as if we are actually there, in the moment? This sounds a lot like what Joseph Campbell said in his quote at the top of the page. Those moments when we are there, in the scene, we give up “all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears,” in order to take a different perspective. And when we take another perspective, we get a glimpse into another world. A different set of feelings, fears, drives, skills, and shortcomings. A brief exposure to something beyond ourselves.

The last sentence of the quote certainly summons my bias for stoic philosophy. It is very much the idea of Amor fati, literally “love of fate.” Some may dismiss Amor fati as a quality of the easily manipulated pushover. And it there is no logical flaw with that interpretation. However, that view is too myopic and fails to take into account the strength that can be found in this belief. There is power in the idea that things happen for you and not to you. You are forced to construct a future with whatever circumstances are thrown your way, and there is no regard to the distribution of equality of those circumstances. Your circumstances are what make your hero myth unique, and no one will ever be able to claim your individual story.

There are certainly more directions to go with this one. I will undoubtedly expand on the supreme importance of moving beyond our sense of self (more perspectives!) and the idea of Amor fati. Part of this experiment is to direct my mind on an idea without forcing any particular conclusion. When I picked this quote, this was not the direction I thought I would follow. So here is to exploring different lines of thought, building creativity, and following the intuitions.

Best explorations,


3; 4/4/2020