Of dreams coming true

I still don’t have a concrete reason as to why I chose this field. I just know deep in my heart that I am exactly where I am meant to be. To you, who’s reading this: Dreams do come true. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe that every tiny step, bump on the road, curve ball and chaos that has happened in the past, has led to this moment.

A week ago, I just graduated medical school. Yes, finally, after four years of sleepless nights, unlimited exams, a global pandemic, here we are. Med school is now over and done. Hooray! I have been patting myself in the back for God knows how long because (if you have been following this blog since its early days) I really never thought that this day would be possible.

To be honest, I don’t know what to feel. I am happy, grateful and relieved. I am happy because, at least the bulk of studying is temporarily over. I am grateful because of all the people, who made this caveat possible. I am also relieved because, it is now less exhausting, at least senior internship will not require me to go on duty for 36 hours.

Junior internship was exhausting albeit life changing overall. If there is a word that is more extreme than that, please tell me because as far as I know, I reached my limit in terms of overall exhaustion. Medical school was hard. Medical school stole so much time that I could have spent with the important people in my life, but aah why is this still so fulfilling.

This brings me back to one of the toxic shifts in the medical ward wherein I had an epiphany. When I was still in my undergraduate days in UP, I used to love watching Marvel movies. I would download and watch every character’s movie, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, etc. To be honest, I do not understand why I loved those movies, but for some unknown reason, I revel in watching Superheroes. 

Maybe because they give hope in impossible situations. They have principles that they try their best to live up to. They use their intelligence in thinking of the best strategies to combat the bad guy or to solve a problem that could lead to the annihilation of human race. I know it’s quite romanticized, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say. They try their best even if it means giving their lives in the pursuit of the greater good. I love those storylines. 

Is that related to me wanting to be a doctor? Is that why no matter how hard it gets, I’d still do this anyway? I am not a superhero with special powers. I know for a fact that I am just a simple human being who’s trying to help out sick people. I’m just a random human who loves Science, and gets a high in making strategies that solve health issues of people. As compared to those fictional superheroes, I am boring.

I still don’t have a concrete reason as to why I chose this field. I just know deep in my heart that I am exactly where I am meant to be. To you, who’s reading this: Dreams do come true. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe that every tiny step, bump on the road, curve ball and chaos that has happened in the past, has led to this moment.

What being 27 taught me

Hey there readers, I just turned 28 last month, and I found this craving for writing again about how life has been. I have started this blog seven years ago, as a form of self-expression, as a way of making sense about everything that was happening around me. What does 27 year-old Kate know about life so far? What have I learned? How am I going to navigate the next years knowing that I have lived one-third of my life in this planet? How am I going to be more intentional? How will I live? Dear ones, here’s what I know for sure.

  1. Family is the starting point of everything and it grounds you. I have learned to appreciate my family now more than ever. COVID and my father’s passing has definitely been a factor as to why I found so much strength in being with family. I tend to not spend a lot of time with my family because I was too busy chasing goals, making ends meet, hustling, working hard in academics, and just doing everything my competitive self wanted. But as I turned 28, I know, for sure, that my family is the starting point of everything that I want to do with my life. They are the foundation that created who I am and guided every step that I took and will be taking along the way. When I get too stressed in the hospital, I just have to go home, play with the dogs, sleep, and have deep and fun conversations with my sisters. Everything that I do makes sense because of the strong foundation that I have with family. We’ve been together since day one, and it comforts me that I have them and that they got me.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Just like how a child unconsciously takes the first few steps, I learned that being a beginner at things is okay. Falling down is okay. Taking the first step may be the most difficult thing for someone to do, but, once you bravely take the plunge and just go with your gut, even if you know that so many bad things can happen or that you may fail, taking that first step is always worth it. I was so afraid of going back to medical school, taking weekly exams and so unsure about everything that I was doing. But here I am now, about to graduate in a few months. I can do simple medical procedures that I never thought I’ll be able to do or even be good at doing. I can now extract blood, insert intra foley catheter, make an IV line, administer drugs, do CPR, do suturing, deliver a baby, and a lot more, all because I took the first step, even if I know that I might fail or be bad at it the first few times. Life is about taking the first step again and again and being okay with falling over and over again.
  3. Keep on exploring. I guess getting older kind of erases the innate curious being inside us. I used to love watching discovery channel documentaries and travelling. But as we become adults, our schedules get more complex, our to do lists get longer and we forget the part of us who love to explore and discover things, and not just do things out of routine or necessity. I still want to explore places, even if it’s just a random coffee shop in our town, or a beach or mountain. I still want to feel exhilarated by the cold air, the sunrise, the sound of new music. I have learned that our yearning for exploration, is still here. It doesn’t fade away.
  4. Keep on learning. I used to love playing the ukulele. I loved learning. I loved reading. I know that this part of me will always be here. Right now, I get excited by learning the Biochemistry of medicine. It’s like I am starting medical school all over again without the pressure of learning it fast. I guess the thirst for learning has lessened through the years, but not learning is not living. This blog post is an attempt to put into paper what I have learned so far. Alas, learning never ends.
  5. Read. What more can I say? I love books. I love how imaginative I can be just by thinking about how the characters look like or how this world that the author conjured looks like in reality. Reading pumps up your imagination. Harry Potter has opened up that creative tunnel for me. Reading courtroom novels opened up my mind that other people can think a certain way. I just found a best friend in reading.
  6. Stay creative. Creativity gave me a push, a reason to live, a reason to play. Writing is my form of creative expression. Dressing up, buying clothes at thrift stores, hair styling. Anything can be a form of creative expression. Creativity will inspire you and you need to make time for it. I noticed that when I stop writing, that’s when my anxiety and depression come back, that’s when my soul slowly withers, and so I have to keep it up, it makes me cling towards living. It makes me wonder, it makes me think, it summarizes the 1 million thoughts that float in my head. We have to live creatively if we want to live a full and happy life. I try to incorporate it through my medical kit, I use a pink stethoscope, a pink tape measure, I use colorful pens, absolutely anything that could introduce play in my job. Living life in color, living creatively, even if I am in a very stressful environment, that is how I fight the norms of this society.
  7. A little competition is healthy, too much is a no no. I love a little bit of competition. I even got addicted to it when I was still a little kid. I guess I have to incorporate more of this in my life right now. I have been more of a zen person, to the point that I got fat because I was contented with where I am. I mean, it’s good, but I have to up my game and compete. It’s fun as long as you are not toxic to others. Use competition in a healthy way.
  8. Sing. I have learned that singing takes stress away. Having a bad day? Sing. Having a boring day? Sing. I don’t have a scientific explanation as to why it feels so good to sing but what I know is based on personal experience, singing makes you feel better afterwards. So, sing!
  9. Make friends. I was never scared of shifting careers or changing workplace because I know that no matter where I go, I can easily make friends. Humans did not evolve to be alone. We are meant to socialize, build tribes, and face things TOGETHER. We are not meant to be islands. We are meant to work together, to slay goals together. Friends have saved me so many times. I survived every phase of my life because I had amazing friends who stood by my side, and backed me up when there were too many shit sandwiches. Friends will keep you sane and make you laugh.
  10. Dance. Dancing, just like singing, is a perfect way to feel better afterwards. I used to dance as a kid and even at work, I still did that. I have to get back at this if I want to feel happier, lol. It just makes me sad that there are less events where people can dance because of COVID but we can dance in our homes, have our solo dance parties, or even do zumba sessions.
  11. Sharpen your skills. At 27, I have a certain set of skills that I was able to develop and there are still a lot more that I need to learn. But even if we grow old, we must never stop sharpening our skills. We must make it an art. I once read a blog in Tiny Buddha about how Picasso was not the Picasso that we know when he was just starting out. I want to be more skillful than I am now. I am like this baby who doesn’t even know how to walk alone in terms of medical procedures and knowledge, but I know that I can’t be a Picasso overnight. It takes practice and it takes time, and I am patient with my process. I will be my own version of Picasso, in time.
  12. Chaos is inevitable. Wherever we go, whatever we do, chaos is just there. 28 years and this fact is still true. No matter how much you curate a perfect schedule, a flawless plan, something will always come up. Since this is certain, we have to learn how to dance with the rain instead of expecting that the weather will be good, or that it will always be sunny. Let me give you a reality check, it won’t. There are good days, but there are days when the world seems like it’s against you and your goals. But you know what? Those challenges make life exciting. Those crossroads and obstacles, make life interesting and make the reward all the more worth it. So let chaos come, but you, will be okay.
  13. Proceed, despite. This is a phrase that my doctor friend (Hi Doctor J!) often writes, and it really made a mark on me. No matter what hurdle comes your way, you have the power to choose the next move. Am I perfect? I definitely am not. I have so many days when I just want to give this all up and go back to my comfort zone and live an easier life. I do find myself questioning my decision to dive in the medical field. But somehow, I just can’t stop and I definitely don’t want to quit, even when I got so depressed when my Dad passed. I just can’t give up our dream. Hence, despite all those insanely painful things that happened, I choose to proceed, despite.
  14. Keep going. Hope is hard to find when you are inside the dark tunnel. I was 14 when I attempted to commit suicide. I couldn’t find the sense in living because of how turbulent our life was. I couldn’t find the reason, I just felt trapped. But what made me stop that dark choice was, the me that I saw 10 years later. I thought to myself, that it’s impossible that life will always be like this. I decided to live even if that was the last thing that I wanted to do. Fourteen years later, here I am, about to become a medical doctor, living with my family, four dogs, loving partner, and it gets absolutely better.
  15. You will rise. I know it sounds cliche. Sometimes the shit sandwich just keeps on coming and you just want it to stop. But let me tell you what being in rock bottom does to you, it teaches you that if you have reached rock bottom, there’s no other way but up. It is a fact. If you have been through the worst, there’s no way for you to go down because you are already at the bottom of the pit. The next events will be exciting, because it is now your climb. You can never climb down, there is no way but up. You will rise and good things will definitely come. Keep on working and never give up.
  16. Success comes to those who are willing to dedicate their energy and time to the things that excite them. Whenever I get decision paralysis, I just follow what excites me. When an idea or a career choice doesn’t excite me, then I am not having any part of it. Medicine, as challenging as it is at the moment, still excites me. Learning about diseases, and how to manage sick patients still pique my interest. I don’t want to paint a perfect picture for you, but if you are excited about something, you will keep on working at it and even if you get tired, you will still get up and keep doing the work over and over again, because as weird as it seems, this is what you love doing. It can be something as seemingly mundane as coloring nails or organizing your closet, but if it excites you, and you just have one life to live, isn’t it a sin to not do it?
  17. Freedom rocks. I remembered my university days and how happy I was. UP had this culture of freedom. I can dress however I want because I am not in the province where judgemental looks were given to those who dress differently. I loved how radical, our professors think, and how self expression is the norm. I discovered at that age that freedom is one of my non-negotiables. I love being free to do what I want. So if a person makes me feel like I’m being strangled, or an environment is suffocating, I know that this isn’t where I am supposed to be. You get my point? To live fully is to be free.
  18. Try new things. You are never too young or too old to try something new. At the moment I still have so many things that I wish to try. I still want to go scuba diving. I still want to learn how to ride a bicycle. I still want to travel around the world and immerse in different cultures. I still want to have my own pet. The list goes on. Trying new things keeps our soul alive.
  19. People aren’t perfect. This is definitely a hard to swallow pill. However, getting older will teach you that every one of us has good and bad sides. There are people, whom you thought are good, but has this dark side that is just hard to believe that a human being can possess. The people that you love dearly have the power hurt you the most. But at the end of the day, people are people. We are all human beings who are trying our best to live in the best way we could, with what we have. We will make mistakes and hurt people along the way. It is just a matter of grace and establishing healthy boundaries.
  20. Celebrate. I guess we are all guilty at some point of being too hard on ourselves. When we have slayed one goal, we don’t even take enough time to celebrate. We just move on to the next goal. I learned that I should celebrate my wins, big or small. We should give ourselves a pat in the back whenever we do a good job, or finish a difficult project. Remember the effort and challenges along the way. Everyone deserves a celebration.
  21. Jump and take risks. Living a safe life is a big no for me. You will never know what you’re capable of until you take risks. You just have to be smart along the way so that you will not fall flat on your face. All of the best things that happened to me are a result of taking good and calculated risks. I’m not saying you should climb Mt. Everest or go skydiving. Just make brave choices from time to time, and let the magic unfold. You just have one life anyway.
  22. Party, explore, navigate. Getting lost is part of the game. Remember that. Whatever exploration means to you, do it and live it. Try new things. Meet and talk to people who have different beliefs as yours. Follow your curiosity. It will give you lessons that can only be learned through experience.
  23. Be brave in making decisions. I do believe that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. It’s a matter of being brave in living with the consequences of your choices. If you chose to get married early and have kids, then that’s good, just take the good with the bad. If you chose to be single, then that’s also good, take the good with the bad.
  24. You can only connect the dots looking backward. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford speech, “You can only connect the dots looking backwards.” At this age, I still have so many dots that are yet to connect. It’s still too early to tell. But based on everything that happened in the past, where I am now makes sense. The people I met, the wins and losses, all of them made me who I am. And I am so fucking proud of the person that I turned out to be. I still have a lot of figuring out to do, but I look back and I am proud.
  25. Loss is inevitable. The biggest heartbreak in my life taught me so many lessons than no self-help book could. It’s really when you face the unthinkable, that you discover how strong you are and how much one person’s life can mean . It has been two and a half years since I lost my favorite person in the world. I learned how finite time is, so we must stop with the nonsense and just, love. But it’s true, the bigger the love, the bigger the loss. Nevertheless, just love.
  26. Learning to live without your North Star. The universe-sized hole in my heart is still here. Time doesn’t heal all wounds after all. There are wounds that one lifetime cannot heal but you will learn to live with them. You will get used to living with pain. Whenever I remember my Dad, I get sad, but I know that this sadness means that I have loved as much as my human heart could. And isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that make life worth it? I am one lucky human to have lived and loved someone so much. I am one lucky daughter to have 25 years with a Dad who gave an amount of love that could last more than a lifetime.
  27. Allowing others to love you. As trials came my way, I learned to accept love. I am still the strong, independent, and self-reliant woman that I used to be, but having lost my Dad, taught me to accept help. My heart feels so warm and fuzzy now that I have the confidence that I can stand alone, and it’s a lot of fun to have family and friends holding your hand and helping you live each day. Allow people to love you. Lean on others and be a shoulder to lean on. I have survived and thrived in the past 27 years because I had a tribe with me.

Indeed, 27 has been amazing.

A letter to all ambitious women out there

 Hi ambitious woman, I am so proud of you. I want to start this letter by patting you on the back for owning your ambition, for the courage to go against the grain, and declaring that you are a trailblazing woman. You have been called “too much” far too many times, too bossy, too know-it-all, too competitive, and maybe you’ve been told, “Who does this girl thinks she is?” I am so damn proud of you for standing up for yourself and following your own path.

1. You will go through a lot of challenges.
      Life will test you a lot of times. Sometimes it will hit you repeatedly on the face, on your gut, and you will fall down. Those who are so brave will get trampled upon, but you know what the difference is? Women like you do not know how to give up. It’s just not in your DNA. Challenges even energize you to be so relentless. You are not afraid to be vulnerable and fall flat on your face. Your mission is clear to you, hence no matter what hurdles come along, you will face it headstrong. 

2. You will meet amazing people.
      There are people who have come before you and will guide you as you walk your path. Learn from them and carve your own way. Every person that you meet has a lesson to teach whether that interaction is good or bad. I guarantee that you will not be alone in your ambition because there are lots of women who didn’t listen to the patriarchy, who decided that even if this world still doesn’t see men and women as equals, we are not bowing down to that belief. They will inspire you to proceed with whatever your heart wants and that women are here to take space and be awesome. 

3. You will ignore the haters.
      Those who decide to carve a unique path will be faced with so much hate. I think you know a thing or two about crab mentality. Some people can’t just process their insecurities hence they project it on you. When a tree is bearing fruit, that’s the time that a random person throws stones on those shiny and juicy apples. Productive people just don’t have the time and energy to hate because they are busy being so fucking amazing, slaying their goals and doing good for humanity. Ignore gossip and just do your shit. Haters are gonna hate because they are just so frustrated and insecure and they are not even brave enough to admit that to themselves. It is easier to badmouth people than to wake up every single day and do the hard work. 

4. You will learn so much along the way.
      All experiences in your life will teach you wisdom that you can’t have just by reading or watching motivational videos. You have to ask yourself, “What am I learning from this?” Every positive or negative experience has something to teach us, and our job is to listen to what the Universe is teaching. If you want to be a better person than you were yesterday, you have to be receptive to what life is teaching you. If you will be stubborn and keep on doing practices that aren’t good and working for you, then I hate to break it to you but you are not getting anywhere. You will be stuck because success requires growth and every season of our lives requires us to evolve. Who do you have to become to be the person you aspire to be? Do you need to be disciplined? Do you have to let go of limiting beliefs. Be a student of life. 

5. You will realize who are the people on your team. 
      There will be people who are good for you and of course there are those whose energy is just not good for your soul. Your job in this planet is to take of your soul because when you do, that love overflows and people can get the best of you. But if you keep on spending time with those who drain you, then how can you transform to your awesome self? Evaluate the energy that your friends emanate. Do you feel good after talking to them or do you feel insecure? Are your friends empowering you or are they discouraging you? Are they cheering you on? Can you rely on them during though times? Have a strong satellite for these kinds of people, and when you find them keep them close. 

6. You will fail.
      Surprise! Since you are brave, I would like to inform you that you will fail. Failure is a part of an ambitious woman’s life. You will not get that job. You will flunk that exam that you spent weeks studying.Your boss will not be satisfied with your work and the list goes on. But then again, every failure has a corresponding lesson, and that lesson will be the fuel to your success. If you do not fail then that means you are not trying. What matters is you get back up every single day, and as Brene Brown says, you go back to that arena, start again and fight. 

7. You will fall in love.
      Even if you are so focused on your goals, remember that love will be the reason why everything still makes sense. If you just keep on chasing money, fame, or success, but then your personal life is on the rocks, then will success still matter? At the end of the day, love is all that matters. So fall in love with life, with your journey, and generate the moments that will keep your heart on fire. Take care of your relationships and give it time. An ambitious woman allows herself to fall so deeply in love. 

8. You will realize what matters. 
      When you are too caught up with problems, we tend to forget the bigger picture. We get trapped in our “mini-me.” An ambitious woman takes the time to reflect and ask herself if this problem is worth the stress. At the end of the day we have to focus on our priorities, and on how we belong to the bigger scheme of things. This is a vast universe and our life as humans is just a tiny speck to its existence. Life is so short, so we have to be wise with how we spend this limited amount that has been given to us. 

9. You will have fun.
      Chasing your dreams is fun. The journey is what matters. You will realize that even if we live in this complicated world, we need to have fun. Enjoy the ride and actively search for things that make you smile. As I’ve said, the trip is short so it makes sense that we must have fun. Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers. 

10. You will thrive. 
      You will succeed, that is for sure. Maybe not in the timeline that you’ve set or in the field that you chose. Ambitious women succeed because they just keep on putting one foot over another. Eventually, you will experience flow and thrive. Inaction guarantees a stagnant life but a hardworking, driven, and purposeful person has a high chance of achieving their goals than lazy people. As Newton’s third law of motion states, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Whatever step you take will eventually bear fruit. You just have to be patient and headstrong. When trials come your way you can take a rest and then continue hustling again. 

Antidote to frustration

When the pandemic started I plummeted on a spiral of negativity. I got disappointed, more than I usually am, with almost everyone who’s handling this pandemic. I understand that COVID is a monster virus but I also know that this could have been handled better. More than a year after the first lockdown, and yet, here we are, experiencing a pandemic in a third world country, which could possibly be the worst place for a human being to be in. I was depressed and demotivated to study because the system is just too broken, but luckily, I was able to crawl out of that tunnel. How do we make peace with a shitty situation that is mostly out of our control?

1. Acceptance
      I discovered that the more we resist the situation that we are in, the harder it is to take the steps to solve problems. Accept that in this moment, these are the cards which we have been dealt with. You are in the Philippines, a country that has been colonized by three big countries for hundreds of years. This is where we are and we have to make peace with this fact. Maybe in another life I’m from Canada or Australia, but in this one, you are born in the Philippines. Accept that monsters exist, that the culture of corruption is a staple here in our nation. There are so many starving kids and sick people who are dying due to the poor healthcare system. Accept at the moment, that we live in a very flawed government, that not all leaders take their job “public servant” by heart. Recognize that not everyone has the same heart as you and your environment is pathological. Right now, this is your life situation. 

2. Gratitude
      Even though these are the realities that we must face on a daily basis, I still believe that we have to acknowledge what we have been given. It is unfair to just focus on the negatives. You are lucky that you are alive, especially since COVID lurks around the corner, and yet, here we are, still surviving. If you are reading this, it means that you have the privilege of being able to access gadgets and the internet. Having food on the table, getting an education, having a safe home to live in, and being with your family in these difficult times, are all things that we have to be thankful for. Being grateful doesn’t disregard the numerous flaws which are still present, but don’t we owe it to the Universe to be happy about what we have? For the past five years, keeping a gratitude journal has kept me aligned with what is important. Even though heavy and difficult things arise, I know that the fact that I am still breathing means that there still is a fighting chance for whatever that we are waking up for.

3. Decide that you can do something.
      Maybe you think that I am so naive for even imagining that I can make a difference. But come on, if everyone accepts that mediocrity and injustice is the norm, then aren’t we helping perpetuate these crimes to humanity? I refuse to give up. I refuse to say that this is all there is, that dying people will be the new norm. I know that even if I am just one insignificant human, I can make a difference. Know that you can do that too. We are intelligent species filled with thousands of neurons with connections that has allowed people to fly to the moon and discover the other galaxies in the sky. How come we think that we are so limited? We are not. You are not limited. You can make a difference wherever you are as long as you are brave and aren’t afraid of the legwork that living purposefully entails. Your existence matters. Make a decision that you will stop playing small. 

4. Stay in the moment and offer it the best you that you can give. 
      A lesson that I have learned from Oprah and Eckhart Tolle is to be present. This might seem a little woo-woo to others but, our present moment creates our future. We have to be fully present with the task at hand, the conversations we are in and the relationships in our lives, because when we are, that’s when the magic happens. People feel it when you genuinely care. There are people who will see how authentic you are. So if you are reading a book, give it your full attention. If you are bonding with family, stop using your phone. When you are talking with clients, don’t multitask, focus on them. Even in activities such as doing the laundry or washing dishes, stay present. That’s when you deliver quality work, and when that accumulates, someone will always notice. You owe it to what has been handed to you.

5. Be the role model you wish you had.
      Some people are lucky to be born with parents who are conscious enough in raising children, but most of us I guess didn’t have that. I think we have to take in to consideration that our parents didn’t also know better. I kept on looking for role models as I was growing up, but I found it difficult to find one, so I decided that if I can’t find one, then I’ll be one. I am frustrated with our leaders, so I decide that I will start by leading myself. Try it too. Be the mother, father, sister, best friend, mentor, leader, that you wish you had. Work hard on becoming the best version of yourself. Align your actions with the solutions to your frustrations. Stop waiting for things to change and start with you. Make a difference in the space that you are in and try to expand that culture of authenticity and humanity in the biggest scale that you possibly can, at your own pace. 

6. Be kind.
      We are not perfect. I am guilty of being impatient and cranky especially since I am in the medical field. But I try my best to be as kind as I can be. When I fall off the wagon, I also forgive myself. I learned this lesson the hard way. I used to be the person who cannot forgive slacking off. When there’s a group project in college, I expect all my groupmates to perform at the level that I do, not meeting deadlines is non-negotiable. I get mad at my groupmates who aren’t sending their parts for our lab reports on time, up to the point that I was becoming a very toxic person. I became unkind. It is their  responsiblity after all. But when difficult things happened to me, that’s when I realized that, I don’t have an idea about what is happening to another person. I don’t have a clue about their situation at home, their finances, or if they are eating at all. So I can’t be unkind, because as the quote goes, “Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about.” I’m not yet as kind as I want to be but everyday, I try my best to be as mindful. 

7. Live a life of service.
     I am not sure when what I want to do has become crystal clear to me. I like leading, managing projects, and learning ever since. I also like seeing that what I do has a contribution to even a single creature. I’m not saying that I am aiming to be Mother Teresa, but seeing others win and do great and humane things for others makes me smile before I sleep. Isn’t that beautiful? When I learned that service and a hunger for learning keeps my soul alive, I knew that I wanted to be or at least try to reach for that MD. Here I am, about to start fourth year, I still have a long way to go but I have come far. Even though there are hard and painful parts, I would still choose this. My service is my offering to the universe. I hope and pray that you reader, are living a life filled with purpose.

8. Create a solution for people’s problems.
     One of my dreams is to create a business that will allow people from my hometown to live comfortably without leaving their families to work abroad. Writing in this blog is not just for creative expression. At the back of my mind, I want to offer clarity to my readers and in a way, help them maneuver challenges in their own lives. My efforts may seem futile, but even if only one person reads an entry, and somehow learns something or thinks differently after reading, then I would be most thrilled. That one person has friends, family or colleagues that they can influence. I want to make more good in this world. That is how I make peace with my disappointments. Find your art or an avenue  for your activism.

9. Educate, don’t hate.
     Since the advent of social media, I noticed that opinions are getting more polarized. Friendships die because of different political beliefs. There are more facebook comments filled with attacks just because of opposing views. Offensive words are like a staple. You just need to look at the comments section and you’ll see so much lack of respect. What if instead of trying to win arguments, we focus on understanding the other party and offer education instead of shaming them? What if we choose respect? We can’t control other people’s thoughts but we can manage how we respond to them. We can engage in a healthy discussion and if the other person attacks, leave. Making a point is never the point. Enlighten instead of winning.

10. Live each day as if it were your last. 
     When I get caught up in the craziness of this world I try my best to remember that today could be my last day. Will I choose to live with anger and negative thoughts? How do you want your last day to be? Draw a picture of your last day on earth. Live that. Focus on what matters. We only have one shot in this life after all. Live fully. 

Unlock your fullest potential

There are epiphanies that we suddenly realize as we grow old. If we are to compare ourselves from who we were a year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago, we’d notice that we changed a lot because of our experiences. I find this constant process of discovery as an interesting journey. You have these expectations about who you are and who you will be and yet you surprise yourself that you have turned out different. As we tread these changes, I think the consistent theme in these different phases of our lives is, we can be at peace with where we are when we are making sure that we fully unlock every version of ourselves, and hopefully before our last breath, we can say that “I have exhausted everything, I did everything that I possibly could.” There will be no regrets nor what ifs.

The next question is, “How do you unlock your fullest potential?” I can only speak based on how I approach life and what I have learned overall, and that is by breaking it in to tiny, actionable steps. 

1. Make an irrevocable decision about the life that you want.
       When you know where you are going, there will be less mental burden about the decisions you’ll be making. Decide what kind of life you want, without any sort of guilt. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to travel all over the world? Do you want to live a simple life on a hill or in the middle of a forest? Ask yourself this question everyday, “What do I really want?” and listen to your gut’s honest answer. Write it down. To be honest, I feel sad whenever I meet someone who is just wasting precious Earth time wandering aimlessly. We all have moments of uncertainties, but at some point, you have to choose your path. Ten years from now, what does a beautiful life look like to you. Make it as detailed as possible and then that’s it, that’s the life you want.


2. Schedule it. 
      If it’s not scheduled, it’s not getting done. This is just honest advice. If you keep on saying that I want to be financially successful, or have a family, or a car, and you’re just sitting there on the couch and praying to be abundant, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not happening. You have to put it in your calendar and make time for each step that will take you closer to the kind of life that you truly want. Start small. Take those baby steps which might seem insignificant at the moment. You’ll see that those tiny actions will accumulate and result to something great, something that only sheer hard work could ever do.


3. Eliminate anything that brings you down. 
      Are you spending so much time on social media? Do you have thought patterns or belief systems that aren’t helping you rise? Well then it’s time to let go of them. Turn your phone off when you have to focus and just concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Stay in the moment you are in. If it’s not making you a happier and better person, then let go of it. It could be a bad habit, or a dragging relationship, or even people who disguise themselves as friends. Choose your energy. Make sure that even if you plummet in to negativity a few times, you still take steps to keep yourself on a higher energy vibe.


4. Ask for help. 
      You are not an island. You belong to a species of organisms who need socializing. The news, COVID, financial setbacks, illnesses, they all are heavy to carry alone. The thing is, you don’t have to face every single one of them on your own. Ask for help. Be brave to humbly seek assistance whenever you need it. I can’t tell you how this simple step changed everything for me. I used to be the person who wants to prove that she doesn’t need any help from anyone. It’s pathological. This attitude has allowed me to be strong, independent, brave and extremely self-reliant, but it also made me a loner and somehow it closed my doors to opportunities and relationships that could have been good for me. Be self-reliant, but when you need help, please ask for it. 


5. Surround yourself with people who want to see you win. 
      Be careful who you spend most of your time with. If you just gossip, drink, or watch TV with your friends, I hate to break it to you, but you are not with the right people. If you want to become successful, you have to make sure that you are in an environment that will allow you to grow at the level that you want to. Talk about goals and how you are achieving them. Discuss ideas, passion, and creativity. Generate that energy of relentlessness. Assess if the people you are with want to see you win. Filipino culture taught us to value family, but sometimes extended family members can cause too much toxicity. You will get opinions you didn’t ask for or unwanted visits and demands. If that’s the case, stop complaining, save up, and move out. If they are not helping you, just get out of that negative space. You can’t possibly grow in a soil that isn’t capable of providing the nutrients that you need to achieve your highest potential.


6. Expect setbacks. 
      This is not a world of unicorns and rainbows. But I guess you already know that. Following your passion or chasing a dream can be equated to going through loopholes with fire on its outlines. It’s like running on a track with lanes with shards of glass or burning coal. It’s kind of morbid but there will be times when you will want to give up because it’s hard and painful. Circumstances will get out of control just when you think everything is okay. Expect setbacks, my love. There will be highs and lows but just hold on to hope. Keep the faith and know that nothing is permanent, even trials.


7. Have a go-to person. 
      To say that we have that one best friend is false in my opinion. I have a friend that I confide in depending on what I am going through. I hope you have these people. They will give you honest advice and a listening and non-judgmental ear. Having real friends is very comforting. They get you back to your senses when you are getting off track. They will patiently hold your hand when you are still healing. How do you have these people? Be a friend. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for others, and when it’s your turn to be punched by the world, someone will always be there for you.


8. Come back stronger. 
      When setbacks happen and you feel like you can’t take another blow anymore, rest. Allow your body and your mind the time and space for recovery. Stop pushing when you know within yourself that you are mentally and physically exhausted. This time frame varies for every person. When you are already rested, roll up your sleeves and with courage, start again. You have learned the lessons, and now it’s time to use that wisdom in getting back up. Know that you are strong because you have gotten through the unthinkable. Nothing is impossible for someone who doesn’t have the phrase “give up” in their vocabulary. 


9. Give. 
      Having a generous heart will allow abundance to flow in your life. I have proven this repeatedly. Whenever I feel like there isn’t enough money or when I am scared, I give. It may be my time, or any form of help that I could give. Surprisingly, abundance follows when your heart is not guarded by the scarcity wall. Volunteer for an advocacy you believe in. Serve. Just give not because you want something in return but do it because it feels good to make others feel better.


10. Surrender. 

For me, life is 50% what happens to you and 50% of it will come from your actions. We can do so much with our precious 50%. When I wake up every morning, I do my best to keep things in order and accomplish the tasks that I need to do so that my dreams will come into fruition. But I also know that there will be circumstances and forces which are out of my control, and so when I pray I surrender that 50%. “No matter how this day goes, I will do my best and the Universe will do the rest for me.” It was hard for a control freak like me to utter the word “surrender.” However, I sleep better ever since I accepted that things will get out of control, schedules will get ruined, annoying people will pop up, but how I perceive these circumstances and my legwork is all that matters. Surrender your dream and each moment and eventually you’ll get there. 

Dealing with pressure

By merely typing the word “pressure” on the keyboard, I feel a little bit of it already. In Physics, pressure is defined as the amount of force per unit area. In terms of life in general, I guess all of us have felt it, a certain amount of force strikes us, often unexpectedly. Some of us are good at handling it. Some would feel immensely overwhelmed and would freeze. Some would sadly, do drastic things, either good or bad, when the pressure is on. In my current situation as a medical student, and in my experiences in this ever dynamic life, I am constantly seeking and practicing ways to relieve the pressure and handle it better especially when things don’t go my way. Again, I am not perfect. In fact I just had a mini meltdown last night. I still have a lot to learn but so far here are the tools which worked for me.

1. Humility
Oftentimes the pressure comes from having a certain level of success in the past. To be honest, sometimes I do feel like I have to be excellent because I have the constant need to exceed the level of achievement that I previously had. However, I realized that this mindset is not serving me. Realizing that those past accolades aren’t me took so much weight off my shoulders. When I read Elizabeth Gibert’s book, Big Magic, she wrote about being a vessel and not the source. I felt so much humility and much lighter because it gave me the permission to just do my best knowing that I am not the genius. That girl who wrote that piece of poetry, or who aced her exam, or won an award, wasn’t me. I am just the vessel, and not the source. The genius moves within me and when it decides to leave, I am totally okay with that. I let it go and thank it for moving through me. I cannot do excellent work all the time, but what I can do is work and trust. Please repeat this whenever there’s too much pressure, “I am just a vessel and not the source.These are not me, it comes from something, bigger than the little me.”

2. Hardwork
Laziness is the perfect ingredient for overwhelm. I am saying this because I was really lazy before especially when I was younger. When you know that you can do a certain task for a short time, you tend to procrastinate. You watch movies, spend hours on social media, or do irrelevant tasks instead of facing the problem at hand. Then, the tasks pile up, other responsibilities will pull you from all directions, and suddenly you are the human representation of a walking backlog and you end up not doing the important stuff that is essential to your life’s mission. Then you feel pressured, overwhelmed, and then you start to become so hard on yourself. You know how you can avoid this? Get off the couch and do something. Put your gadgets on focus mode. Work hard and work smart. Align with your body’s energy levels, work productively, and rest when you must. In that way there is less probability of overwhelm. There will be less pressure because you are on top of things. There’s no hack or easier way than working your buns off.

3. Gratitude
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I love writing about gratitude. That is because it works. Maybe you might think I’m just saying this because I haven’t been through a lot and trust me, or do a backread in this blog, and you’ll see that my rock bottom almost made me give up on life. You don’t need to feel better in an instant. I just want you to grab a notebook and write even just one thing that you are grateful for when you wake up. This doesn’t mean that you will be a ray of toxic positivity. You will just state one thing, not ten, not twenty, even just one. You’ll soon see that despite any challenge, there’s still something to be thankful for. It doesn’t have to be grand. It can be as simple as the air you breathe or your morning coffee. This attitude of gratitude builds momentum, and soon enough you’ll be able to reframe your thoughts. It might take days, or years, but just do it consistently and you’ll realize that even if there’s too much pressure, it somehow gets lighter as you acknowledge the good things in life.

4. Prayers
Disclaimer: I am not practicing any religion. But I am a firm believer that there is a bigger Being out there, that is too big to be even imagined by the human brain. I have this faith that God, The Universe, Being, Eternal Loving Presence, or whatever you want to call it is trying to manifest something, and that all of us has a part for this creation to come into fruiton. And so, I have made a conscious effort to pray that whatever I do is in alignment with my purpose. To be honest, I don’t even know clearly what that purpose is, but if you have faith, somehow the universe shows you the way. So pray that God shows you the way. Surrender and be willing to walk through the path that is for you. When you have this belief that, every experience is part of your purpose, it takes the pressure off, because it’s not just you who has to make things happen. You are co-creating with the universe.

5. Look for peace and it will come to you.
If you think about problems all the time, believe me there are a million ways to do that, in fact you just need to scroll on your newsfeed and be sucked into the youtube vortex and you’ll find millions of negative content that can feed your mind. These will catch your attention and make you an unproductive and anxious human being. But what if you decide to take the reigns and declare that peace is what you seek? What if you start unfollowing people and pages that make you feel like your efforts are not good enough, that no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference? Believe me, your life will change. Unfollow people or even friends that you tend to compare yourself to, that make you jealous, or afraid that you are missing out. Try focusing on your breath, on the task at hand, on the process. Just try doing things and appreciate them whether it’s good or bad. There is more peace within you and outside of you. Just don’t be lazy in looking for it. Make finding and generating peace a lifelong commitment and you’ll soon notice that when you are overwhelmed, you can always go back to that sacred place within you that hugs and tells you that everything is going to be okay.

You’ll be okay, love.

What is the best premed course?

One of my struggles when I was still in high school was choosing a course in university. Just like the usual sixteen year-old, I didn’t know what degree should I take. No one helped me make these big decisions and since I am a soon-to-be first generation doctor in the family, there was no one that I could ask. So I sought the help of Google, which at 2009, doesn’t have that much doctors talking about how to get into med school. So kids, you are so lucky because, you can now get the help you need online. I asked the opinions of awesome soon-to-be doctors who have different premed courses from me. I do hope you find the help that you need and if you still have questions, please feel free to put them down on the comments section.

BS MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY

PROS: The advantage of being a med tech student is you have months of exposure in the hospital and you will meet people who have been in this industry for a long time. You will have an overview of the ups and downs of working in healthcare. You will also learn about how things work in the laboratory, so let’s say you are interested in pathology, you will understand why some lab results can’t be processed immediately even if it’s a stat request. Another advantage is you will feel that you played a part in the diagnosis of the patient even though you aren’t technically the one handling them. Another plus is, the lab is air conditioned since the machines can’t overheat, hence, you still look fresh (lol). It’s also fun to culture bacteria because of the colors, and it’s interesting to see actual specimens in the microscope.

CONS: The disadvantage that I see is since almost everything is automated, it can get boring, and this might lead you into forgetting the principles behind the procedures, which is bad if you are planning to take up medicine. Also, since you are inside the lab, the only time that you get to face the patient is during blood extraction. It’s the nurse’s job to meet the patient face-to-face. Another thing is, urine and feces will be a part of your life so when you go to med, you won’t be disgusted with these specimens anymore.

Irene, RMT


PROS: Medtech students are proficient in using the microscope for histopath, hence it will be a big advantage since you’ll be using it for your histology and pathology subjects. You will also gain the very useful skill of blood extraction which will come in handy in medschool. You will learn the practical and theoretical side of lab diagnostics which is a must in being a medical doctor plus, you will have subjects that will be useful when you enter medschool such as hematology, immunology and serology, and analysis of urine and body fluids. It will be easier for you to understand the concepts because of your prior knowledge and experience in this field. In addition to this, during your undergrad internship and work, you will have hospital and patient exposure hence, all those nervousness around patients and doing procedures will be off of your list of fears.

CONS: For the disadvantage, even if you have all these knowledge and experience, there will still be tons of concepts and skills that you do not know and it can be really frustrating. However, that’s the point of going into medschool, you will need to learn and learn and learn.

– Ton, RMT


PROS: One of the major advantages of medtech as a premed course are the subjects. Clinical chemistry, microbiology, endocrinology and toxicology are very useful subjects that will help you understand and make clinical correlations especially in internal medicine. We also had pathology, and learned how to do slide preparation and be proficient in using the microscope. We were also given clinical cases weekly, and were trained to determine the laboratory approach needed for a certain case, interpretation of results, and final diagnosis. We also have basic knowledge in pharmacology and experience in doing quantitative research. Overall we have a good foundation in pathophysiology, basic pathology, laboratory work and diagnostics, and clinical correlations.

CONS: Since medtech is an undergrad course, the diseases are more focused on the criteria related to clinical aspects, and not much on the deeper concepts and specific treatment protocols. These things still need to be learned in medschool. We still have a lot to study such as doing physical examination, and calculating drug dosages. There are still so many things that we do not know but we learn as we go through with our medical education.

Josh, RMT

BS PHARMACY

PROS: Pharmacists have an edge in pharmacology. Learning about the mechanisms of drugs and their corresponding physiology is an advantage for us in medschool. And this is such an important knowledge base because basically doctors prescribe drugs. Pharmacology is said to be one of the monsters of pre-clinical years so this foundation will be put in good use not just in medschool but all the more in your practice. You will also have an idea about drugs and their administration which is an important aspect since there are tons of drugs that you have to learn. I guess pharmacy teaches you the skill to analyze a lot which is much needed in the field of medicine.

CONS: The disadvantage for me is pharmacy is such a beautiful and exciting field and it’s hard to let go of your love and passion for it. Somehow, it was easier for me to love pharmacy than medschool. Also there are limited subjects that we know about which are also in medschool unlike medical technology. I also think anatomy is not our strong suit or maybe it’s just me.

Andrea, RPh


PROS: Pharmacy is a good fallback because there are many job opportunities. You can work in public or private drugstores, in a hospital, in the pharmaceutical industry as a quality control officer, in the academe or in research. As a medical student, a big advantage is you will be familiar with the therapeutic category and mechanism of action of drugs, their generic and brand names. You will also know how to calculate the doses of medication, know what medicines, and what dose or stock keeping units (SKUs) are available in the market. You will also know how to counsel patients, and be familiar with drugs’ side effects and drug interactions. You can advise patients about what to avoid and expect when taking a particular medicine. You will also have knowledge about what alternative medicine can be given in case the specific medicine that a patient needs is not available. You will also have a good background in biochemistry, though I forgot a lot about it since that was a long time ago.

CONS: The disadvantage is the clinical skills are not yet there like handling and managing patients. Our background in histology is poor and we have litte knowledge in anatomy.

– Anonymous, RPh

BS BIOLOGY

PROS: Bio graduates are often coined as premeds who know a little bit of everything but is a master of none in terms of clinical skills. One advantage that I can think of is we are trained in doing scientific research. We also have a strong foundation about the cell. We had a taste of anatomy, physiology, histology, molecular biology, genetics, and microbiology, hence, some of the terms are not too jargon when we we studied medicine. We are trained to understand microscopic and macroscopic scientific phenomenon including connecting and correlating ideas. We also have good microscope skills and since we often present scientific papers, we also know how to teach. Above all this, the biggest advantage that being a biologist has is the innate curiosity, the inner scientist, that has helped me open one more page of a book, even when I don’t feel like studying. I get so happy by knowing and learning more and more everyday

CONS: The obvious disadvantages are more on hospital exposure and clinical skills. Being a medtech, pharmacist, or a nurse will expose you in the healthcare industry. I barely knew drugs, I don’t know the protocols for handling patients and I had zero clinical skills and poor knowledge about diseases. How I wish someone could have explained to me that Biology won’t help in these important clinical aspects but still I have no regrets because Biology was so much fun. It compensated for my fatigue in medschool.

– Katey

BS CHEMISTRY

PROS: In Chemistry your edge is you really know and understand how things work in a molecular level, which is the basis of pharmacology. Understanding the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics of drugs and their reactions would be easier. Your skill in being keen to details will be a great advantage in understanding complex concepts such as cardiac and renal physiology. Since we are also used to reading books filled with graphs instead of pictures, we can power through reading the most boring books (which are a lot) even in medicine. We are also trained in self-studying and analyzing complex problems, which is must-have skill in medicine because most of the time you will be learning on your own. I believe the greatest edge that a Chemistry student has is their attitude and discipline, and their training to be analytical and rational in every decision they make. They are extremely careful, for one tiny mistake can cause a catastrophic effect. They are agents of change and research that is not only important for changing the field of medicine but also in producing a five-star Filipino Scientist and Physician, whom not only accepts what is given but also questions what is presented. 

CONS: Our disadvantage is we lack anatomy, microbiology, pathology and other major subjects that other premed courses have. But you will be able to surpass this because chemists have that fire within them to learn and relearn. This is my edge overall, because as a future doctor by profession, to become one is indeed a lifelong journey of learning on its own. 

-Jessa Jhen, RCh

BS PSYCHOLOGY

PROS: Majoring in Psychology is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. As a psych graduate, you’ll have a better grasp of your mental wellness. Your extensive understanding of the self also allows you to recognize when you are becoming toxic, so you can step back and take a breather. You can manage your human interactions. The psych personality you develop will keep you out of most trouble and in good graces with most of your peers. You can provide some support to your classmates who are emotionally struggling. You also have a mastery of the art of questioning. You get to use it in your daily interactions as well as in history taking. You learn how to effectively extract information in a way that is less intimidating to the patient or the relatives. Your Basic Attending Skills and Psychological First Aid will come in handy in the emergency room, given that you don’t panic when you meet a hysterical patient or relative. You’re trained to detach yourself from your unconducive emotions. Psychology will train you how to be empathetic and detached at the same time. That way, you are able to let patients feel that you care, but you keep yourself at a distance so as to not become drowned in the negative emotions of all the people you encounter.

CONS: On the flip side, you don’t learn much about the medical side of health. You might have to do a lot more catching up than those from other courses. You don’t get many opportunities to practice your profession and you’ll learn of your classmates taking part-time jobs in labs or in pharmacies. If you do manage to get a side hustle, it contributes nothing to your academic performance. Nurses, pharmacists, and med techs get to refine their knowledge when they work. If you do manage to find a job as a Psych major, the knowledge you refine has nothing to do with the field of medicine. Being a Psych grad can also be exhausting. You will always have a classmate coming to you for help, and you want to help them, of course. But it can become too often, or they can come one after another, and you sometimes even set aside your own issues so you can deal with theirs.

BS NURSING

PROS: You will definitely have the biggest chunk of hospital experience among your classmates.You know and understand the inner workings in the healthcare industry hence you’ll have less adjustment time. You will also have clinical experience and a clinical eye way before med school. Nursing students are also proficient in history taking and physical exam which will be an advantage for you to excel in medschool. You will have good clinical skills such IV and catheter insertion, or maintaining tracheostomy. I think the biggest advantage is we have prior knowledge and have actually seen patients with the disease process, and also management. The sweetest part of nursing as a premed course is you are basically trained to understand and read every situation, every move and doctor’s order, and what the physician and the patients are saying. I guess one of the best things I learned in nursing is empathy, and the way of connecting to people. I became more emotionally sensitive compared to my past self, but of course patients are not allowed to see that. You also have a good perspective and focus on anatomy and physiology, bioethics and pharmacology, because you need to be able to explain this to the patient. Nursing is overall a good and holistic premed course.

CONS: For the disadvantages, being a nurse is exhausting but I guess you already know that. If before medicine, you experienced working in a hospital you know that this job can drain you as a human being. In terms of academics, somehow the nursing subjects overpowered the basic sciences needed in medicine such as biochemistry, because your main focus in nursing are the skills and theories. There are also things that happen inside the hospital that can break you. The smell of death, the worst feeling of having to tell the family that the patient is deteriorating, the way that the family gets angry, or humiliates the healthcare worker. I somehow think you’ll enter med as a broken person if you took nursing as premed. The good feelings overpower the bad, that’s why nurses are still here, and so we keep on going. But overall, you will be prepared for life inside the hospital because, you have already lived it.

-Lyris, RN



So have you chosen your premed course? I hope this article helped you gain more insight before you enter the world of medicine.

How to stop stopping yourself

You have to stop holding yourself back from the amazing you who’s still hiding in that shell. You just need to be a little bit braver. You got this.


“But what will other people say?”

Let me guess, you have been plagued by this repetitive question for a long time, am I right? We ask this to ourselves when we’re deciding what to wear, how to speak, making career moves, or starting a business. This question gives you a disease with a bad prognosis which is, “soul paralysis.” This will make sure that you will live a boring existence. People won’t have anything to talk about in your funeral because you lived such a safe and sheltered life. Let’s be real here, do you really want that? I bet you don’t. The mere fact that you are reading this blog means that you are someone who has a message to spread in this world.

So how do we open our hard shell and start exploring the world and expressing who we really are? The first thing that I will prescribe to you is, you must let go. Here are three things that you should let go of, if you want to bring the amazing you on the table.

1. Your toxic environment.
I am speaking from a place of truth and experience. We, as humans have to learn how to adapt to any situation. We cannot control the initial environment that we were born into. You are lucky if you were born into a family who genuinely love and support each other. But what if that’s not the case? What if turbulence was the norm in your childhood? What if you grew up in chaos, or in a place swarmed by backward thoughts? You can’t just go with the flow. If you recognize that your environment is taking a toll on your soul, do your best to get away. You can control your reactions and how you perceive things, though that’s challenging when you’re still on your formative years, but as long as you’re staying in a place that doesn’t serve you or contribute in your evolution into becoming a better person, then get out as soon as possible. You can only know your true self and be at your best by detaching from the world that you used to know. You will discover your likes and your passions. You can do your hobbies and express your art without thinking about what the neighbors will say. You can make your own mistakes without people giving comments about how you have to live your life. You can be you. Will detaching be easy? It won’t. Getting out of your comfort zone will not be a walk in the park, but it’s going to be worth it.

2. Your “friends” who are not into goals.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I forgot who said this but, in a way I do believe that this is true. If you keep on spending a lot of time gosipping, partying and drinking, do you think it will propel your soul forward? You don’t have to be all judgmental with your friends. Most people have this stage in their lives, including me. What I’m trying to say is you have to be more conscious of how you spend your time and who you spend it with. Why? Because any amount of time you waste, can never be taken back. You know that life is short, anyone could die at any moment, so choose people who will help you take one more step towards living an authentic and passionate life. Choose to be with people who inspire you to be better. I’m not advising you to abandon your friends, but rather, I’m encouraging you to spend more time with creative, genuine, and goal-driven people. This is initially hard, but it is necessary. This doesn’t mean that you hate your friends who drink a lot, this just means that you love yourself enough. Look for people who are changing the world, if there are none around, watch videos on youtube of people who inspire and motivate you. Curate your newsfeed by unfollowing people and pages that don’t stir your soul.


3. Your old self.
We all have phases. You probably are an entirely different person from who you were ten years ago. If you want to evolve or be successful in whatever aspect of your life, then you have to get rid of your own clutter. It is difficult to admit that we have our own unhealthy behaviors. We may get defensive about certain beliefs and values that we hold on to. I used to be an extremely emotionally numb person. I built my own fortress and stopped myself fom getting too close to anyone. It helped me cope in the past, but right now, it’s not helping me anymore. I used to be a neurotic perfectionist which has made me achieve a couple of things but did I feel good along the journey? To be honest I didn’t. When I became crystal clear about how I want to feel, that’s when I took on the task of cleaning my mental and emotional space. I grieved every phase that I had to let go of. But on the other side of that humility and constantly working on myself, was the true me, that I am genuinely proud of. So please, let go of the little you. Every stage of your life will require you to change, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

You have to stop holding yourself back from the amazing you who’s still hiding in that shell. You just need to be a little bit braver. You got this.

How to stay on track when everything sucks

We all have roles in this world and sometimes we feel like what we’re doing is not changing anything. But trust me when I say, every good deed has a ripple effect. Every single thought you have and action you take, adds up.

Sometimes shit after shit after shit happens. It’s like the cycle never ends. There are just those days when you feel like a joke is intentionally being played on you. And of course our natural response is to get upset. Even as adults we throw tantrums and lash out on people who have nothing to do with what’s happening to us. I am so guilty when this happens. Oftentimes, the people around me are the casualty. For us, personal development maniacs, we don’t want this happening. We always aspire to be balanced, focused, and on track. But life just isn’t like that. Nothing is and will ever be perfect. There are days when we can master our emotions but there will be times when it will just suck. How do we still stay focused and how do we get going even when the universe is seemingly against us?

I have two not-so-secret ingredients for that. These are gratitude and perspective management.

I know what you’re thinking reader. How on earth could I still be grateful when the bills are piling up, when there are deadlines to meet, kids to take care of, debts to pay, and a freaking pandemic? Just, how?


STEP 1. BREATHE AND SAY THANK YOU.
I want you to grab a notebook, and write. Write a list of things that you are grateful for. Seriously, if you want to stay true to your mission, do it now. I’m telling you, it’s impossible to not have anything on that list. Do you have a family or a friend who supports you? Are you eating at least three meals a day? Do you have the privilege of getting quality education? Maybe you have a pet who brings you immense joy or a plant that you are taking care of. If you have time to think about everything that’s going wrong, then you definitely have time to think about what’s going right. I want you to have as much as possible an objective and fair amount of positive and negative thoughts. So there’s a pandemic, it is a reality. The government is a circus, that is undeniably true. But please, even if so many bad things are happening, don’t fall into the trap of negative bias.


STEP 2. MANAGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
Now that you have listed the things that you are genuinely grateful for, do the work. Where are you right now and how can you make a difference in your own space? We all have roles in this world and sometimes we feel like what we’re doing is not changing anything. But trust me when I say, every good deed has a ripple effect. Every single thought you have and action you take, adds up.



STEP 3. CREATE THE THINGS YOU WISH EXISTED.
So you want a better world? Then start off with being a better you. You want transparent leadership? Then be that leader that you wish to be. Sometimes we get overwhelmed because we think only big things can make the world change. But the truth is, big wins are built by small triumphs. Start where you are. If you want to help the impoverished, then focus on making yourself financially full, little by little. Start a profitable business so that you can finance others who are in need, slowly but surely. If you are drowned in debt, start listing all those payables, and prioritize paying them. Do what you have to do to raise money to pay them. Cut back on your expenses. If you are a trauma survivor then maybe you can be that person who listens to someone who’s in a lot of pain. If you’re having trouble with academics, then be creative and specific and work on your weak points. Be your own hero. Be your own role model. You never know how much influence you are making.


You have to stay connected to your purpose and know that your mission in this world trumps every setback and every heartache. As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Acknowledge what you’re feeling. Always remember the things which are working out. Create the things you wish to have existed and follow through. This is how you change the world, by first and foremost, changing “you.”

What I had to sacrifice for my dream

Think about the sacrifices you had to make for your dream. Are they really that harsh or maybe you just need a new set of perspective lenses? Remember that you are the captain of your ship and the master of your game. If you see your journey as a punishment, then it will be. But if you appreciate it and create a fun-filled and spiritually conscious life around it, it will still be a wonderful and exhilirating experience.

For dreams to come true, you have to work hard, stay focused, and be willing to make sacrifices. We all know these things, but being on the journey itself has taught me a lot of lessons that how I wish someone would have told me earlier so that I would have been at least mentally prepared for the challenges that came along with it. I know that nothing could have prevented the huge blow but I would have appreciated a guardian angel that could have softened the experience for me. Here are the top things that I had to sacrifice during this MD journey:

1. Sleep
We need seven to eight hours of sleep in order to optimally function as a human being. However, no matter how hard we try to be as healthy as possible, sadly, the medical education world, is not designed for that. We have a very fast paced program so you really need to read and review because you will have tons of exams. For instance in our school, we have exams scheduled every Monday. Just imagine how our weekend looks. To be honest I flunked some exams because sometimes my body couldn’t adapt to a no rest weekend and if I don’t sleep, I’ll get sick and that will be worse. It’s a constant battle between passing exams or getting sleep. How I wish the education system isn’t this toxic but we have to adjust to the current situation in order to survive. You will definitely lose sleep because there’s just tons to do. It’s kind of ironic because we are advocating for health but we barely practice this lifestyle in medschool. Since health is one of my top five priorities, I decided to not join any college-based organizations so that I can at least have five hours of sleep on a typical school day. It helped me have a better mood and concentration. It’s better if you know this now so that when you’re in medical school you will just say yes to commitments which are a priority for you.


2. Time with Family
This is actually the hardest thing to sacrifice. As an Asian, family is a big deal. This is also my priority because you can have a lot of achievements in life but nothing can take back the time you lost with your family. It is difficult to balance time with family and academics. This is actually the reason why I chose to study in a medical school in our province. I want to have more time with my family. However, since I can’t focus on studying when I’m at home, I need to stay in my dorm whenever there are major exams. Having a planner and scheduling everything is the key to med life balance, though perfect balance is a myth anyway. I still carve time for my family inspite of the busyness because, they give me the extra motivation and inspiration that I need to keep on studying. I am still not good at this but I try to be as present as I can because I want to live a life without regrets even if I value my dream of becoming a doctor. Being really clear and conscious about how I spend my time and making sure that my family is a priority gave me the opportunity to spend one last year with my father before he passed away. I therefore have no regrets at all.

3. Freedom
Since I need to study a lot, freedom, at least compared to how I used to live my life is relatively gone. Friday night drinks shifted to catching up with sleep. Social events are not a priority, rest is. There’s a concert that you really want to watch, but you will have to choose studying for exams. You can’t meet people as much as you want to. You won’t live a life that is the same with majority of people in their twenties. That is the reality of it, no sugar coating added. You will get jealous with people in your age group because they are getting married, traveling, or having babies. But you know what? It’s okay. I will not trade this life with anybody else’s. There are moments that I feel really down because I just want to progress quickly in my career but, all of us just have one life. I will not spend it blaming myself for not chasing my dreams just because I wasn’t patient enough. To others, my life may seem miserable, but to me, it isn’t. I have something to look forward to every single day. I am learning how to save a life. Not everyone gets to have a chance to do that. I value freedom, but maybe this is my own definition of it. It’s about working so hard for a vision that I can clearly see. It’s about not giving up when the going gets tough. It’s about getting through challenges and growing along with it. This is my freedom and my way of being proud of myself.


4. Money
I missed this part a lot. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I couldn’t go to medschool right after college. I like money. I like earning it. I like having a lot of it. But when you’re a student, you can’t spend money same as when you were still working. I had to say goodbye to my cashflow. You can have a side hustle or a business but if it will take a huge chunk of your time, then this is not the perfect timing for that. You have to set your priorities, unless you’re one of the select few geniuses who can multitask and learn medical concepts easily. As an average person intellectually, I had to set my priorities straight and just focus on medschool for now. I am really lucky to have a family and generous people who support my financial needs. I am also the type of person who is not motivated because of money. I want to be rich because money is a very useful tool to create the future that you are dreaming of. But for now, there’s a pause and it’s totally okay. As long as your worth isn’t connected to how much money you have in your bank account, you’re good to go.

5. Adventure
Gone were the days when you can just be a weekend warrior and book a trip or go on hiking. As an adventure junkie, this was painful because I know that my physical strength in my twenties will not be the same in the years to come. I love travel but my nomad alter ego is now on hiatus. You can still go for short side trips but it won’t be the same as the backpacking days that you used to embark on. This was hard for me but you can use the perfect tool for this dilemma which is, perspective management. Instead of thinking that you’re missing out on a lot of travels, why not look at your life as the ultimate adventure? I may have said goodbye to island hopping but this journey is still exciting for me. I shifted to discovering every coffee shop in my city and studying there. I jog in different places. When my boyfriend picks me up from school we choose to drive at the more scenic route. We take photos when the view is just surreal. My medschool friends and I eat at restaurants and try the different flavors of souffle. We watch free concerts on a friday night. The list is endless. I have found a way to be adventurous even without booking trips. I guess that’s the sense of it. You have to bring the adventure wherever you go and you have to look at life as the one big adventure. This makes my heart so warm and happy.

So now think about the sacrifices you had to make for your dream. Are they really that harsh or maybe you just need a new set of perspective lenses? Remember that you are the captain of your ship and the master of your game. If you see your journey as a punishment, then it will be. But if you appreciate it and create a fun-filled and spiritually conscious life around it, it will still be a wonderful and exhilirating experience. I mean, I wouldn’t have it any other way.