I can remember it like yesterday - the day I received my medical school acceptance. It was a dream come true and such a proud moment. The feeling I had was indescribable. I felt as if I was walking on cloud nine. I felt like I was on top of the world. I was so thankful and humbled that God had ushered my dreams to come true. After I told my parents and family, I distinctively remember calling one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since Kindergarten.
She was thrilled and happy for me as I told her all the details. She knew how hard I worked toward this goal, but she also knew the journey I was about to embark on. She was a second year student in one of the elite optometry schools in the country. As we were talking, she said to me, “Remember this day”. Inevitably, she knew that there would be days ahead when it would be tough and times when I would want to quit. But the feeling I had at that very moment, I needed to keep it in my pocket, so that I could take it out from time to time to remind me why.
So why did I want to become a doctor? I wanted to become a pediatrician since the age of 10. I was in infatuated with babies as a little girl. I thought they were the cutest things ever. Whenever there was a new baby in my extended family, I begged to hold the baby in my arms. I guess I had a maternal instinct and nurturing nature early on in my life. Coupled with my mother becoming sick when I was young, it seemed to be the right fit or calling I would say. I never looked back once I decided to make becoming a doctor my goal.
I wanted to help sick kids in need. I wanted to make kids feel better and inspire them. I wanted to give children hope and encourage them to be whatever they wanted to be someday too. I wanted to be a role model in my community. That’s what being a doctor means to me. But getting there would be a long and arduous journey filled with grueling, sleepless nights, years of sacrifice, and even scary moments of self-doubt and uncertainty during patient care.
She was right. There were many times when I had to take that once forgotten feeling out of my pocket and remember that moment that seemed so long ago. I remembered my why and that indescribable feeling of accomplishment and joy. During those moments of reflection, it was enough to keep me moving towards the goal I had set for myself long ago as a child. It helped me make it through the unforgivable nights on call and the roughest of months.
I’m grateful for my friend who shared with me that sound and wise advise. I want to pass it on to you today. Close your eyes and think back to that moment when you were admitted to medical school or matched to your top residency program. Remember the joy and enthusiasm you had in knowing you were able to do what you always wanted to do – help people in need. Whatever that moment is or whatever your why is, keep it in your pocket!