Prepare and Dare

Do you remember how 2018 was? It was so good to you but it was also heartbreaking in some ways. You won and you lost. So many things happened right? There were a lot of surprises, some where good and some were bad but what matters is you learned.

You learned that gratitude is essential.

Every day there is still something to be grateful for. You might be in too much pain, but the sun still rose, your dad cooked breakfast for you, you have family who unconditionally looks out for you. Isn’t it amazing how everything seems orchestrated? There are people who truly care for you. You can make a list of those amazing humans and also the circumstances which brought you to where you are right now.

Love is found in the mundane.

Our princess mentality taught us that love should be in a form of a knight in shining armor or grand romantic expressions. But in 2018, maybe you saw and realized that it’s actually carved in the simple, repetitive actions. It’s when your bestfriend checks up on you, or when your friend tags you in a meme. It’s when someone listens to your rants or eats lunch with you. Love is when your little brother hugs you or when your cousin plays with you. It is actually everywhere, sometimes we’re just too clouded with pain and anger to notice it. I hope you learn to look for it, even in in the most difficult situations.

Accept. Accept. Accept.

Whatever it is, accept. Whether it’s good or bad accept. This Earth is not a paradise. Maybe you got lucky and got a fair share of wealth or maybe it’s the opposite. You may be slaying your goals or not getting the results you want. Nevertheless, you must still learn to accept what is. Because only with a heart that acknowledges what the present moment offers, can you operate from a genuine place. Learn how to be okay with what you have.

Try your best to see with compassion.

This is really hard to do especially when someone is just rude to you for some reason, and you don’t understand what you did wrong for that person to hate you. Even if the other person is just too mean, you have to do your best to look at the person and situation with compassion. Their behavior is not about you, it’s about their pain. They are just projecting that to you. Probably because you are a reflection of who they can’t be or unresolved childhood issues that has nothing to do with you.

At the end of the day, only yourself can save you.

You should be your own best friend and cheer leader. Stop relying on others. You are allowed to ask for help but you must not put your life on someone else’s hands. Be the captain of your own ship. Discover who you are, your dreams and passions and relentlessly follow it. More importantly, take responsibility for everything that happens in your life. You have no one to blame but yourself. Be mature enough. Respect other people’s time. Save yourself, don’t wait for others to do it for you.

Fake it till you make it.

No one has everything figured out, even the so called geniuses still has knowledge gaps. Sometimes you just have to pretend that you know what you’re doing even if you really don’t. Prepare and dare. Claim success like it’s your birthright. Who knows, you might just wake up living the dreams you never thought you could have.

We still have a lot to learn. This thought makes this new year even more exciting. I hope you do better this year, but if you don’t, know that it’s okay to fall short, what matters is you did the best that you could with what you have. 💕

NMAT for Dummies

Do you have to be super smart to pass the NMAT? NO. Being smart helps, but hard work is still the best technique.

Hello soon-to-be MDs! To be a medical doctor in the Philippines, step one is studying premed, next is taking the NMAT. What is it anyway?

NMAT is a mandatory exam for aspiring medical students in the Philippines.  This exam will be the basis for your med school application. Medical schools would require an NMAT score to gauge your capacity to be trained as doctors.

For a little bit of a backstory, I took the NMAT twice. One was in 2014 when I was still in college and the latest was in March 2018, I was then a very busy corporate slave. To be honest, I really wasn’t able to study that much because I was in the middle of writing our undergrad manuscript when I took it in 2014. In 2018, I was very busy in my job as a customer service executive for a bank. So, if you’re freaking out because you don’t have enough time to study, breathe in, breathe out. Believe me, it is possible to get a high score, but this doesn’t mean that you have to procrastinate. You will fare better if you study. I swear.

Here are some steps that I highly recommend for a stress-free NMAT:

Create a Plan.

Are you familiar with the Four P’s concept? Prior Planning Prevents Poor outcome. You have to plan based on your schedule. If you’re still a student, your advantage is the concepts of Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and  Social Sciences are still fresh to you. So you don’t really need to study that much as compared to someone who has been working for a couple of years. Make a plan based on your schedule. For tough days, it’s okay not to study, just make sure that you compensate with the hours lost in your next study session.

Hoard Reviewers

I highly suggest printing the practice test given by CEM (Center for Educational Measurement). Take the exam with the allotted time for each subject and check your weakest points. Then make a plan and put in more hours for your weakest subjects.

You can also buy MSA reviewers or borrow from friends. The advantage of MSA Reviewers is it is really high yield. Using this would make your brain ready for difficult questions. It’s actually harder than the exam itself however, there’s no harm in over reviewing.

You can also ask for handouts from your classmates or friends who attended review centers. Just make sure that you focus on the practice test provided by CEM. Always rationalize your answers. Google and Merriam will be your best friends.

If you can afford enrolling in a review center, you can also attend one too. For me though, shelling out five digits is not worth it and also not possible. (I was a financially struggling student and also a breadwinner so it’s a big no.)

Block time for studying.

For undergrads, at least an hour a day would be okay. For dummies like me, I really need a longer time time frame to review so even twenty to thirty minutes progress per day in a span of two to three months really helped. Just make sure that you are making progress even if it’s just three questions, it works.

For working folks, create a timeline and really devote at least an hour or more for reviewing. When my schedule is quite free, I wake up extra early in the morning to clock a few hours of studying. If I really can’t wake up early I go to coffee shops and stay there for three to four hours to make up for the lost study time. I do this two to three times a week.

Exercise

Maybe you’d think, “I don’t even have time for studying, how can you even ask me to exercise?” Believe me when I say, this did wonders to my discipline and energy level. I devoted an hour of exercise after work. This released happy hormones which I really needed in stressful workdays and also improved my focus with the limited study time that I have. Just do it and you’ll see.

Social Media Detox

If you really want to be a medical doctor, you have to eliminate distractions, and that includes good old social media. Yep. Uninstall everything. You would be surprised with how much you can accomplish without notifications bothering you everyday. I did one month of social media detox, and I credit my NMAT score to this mini sacrifice.

Know when your brain is productive.

If you are a morning person, do it before everybody else wakes up. If you are more of a night owl, then study in the evening. Just don’t force yourself to study when your brain is tired because it is counterproductive. Your brain needs rest. Listen to what it needs. Adjust your study schedule depending on your brain’s capacity.

Tell your friends and family about your exam.

They will cheer you on and they will keep you accountable. My best friend and sisters would always chat me to ask how I am and also remind me that I should be studying. (Conscience haha). Support is essential in your path to becoming a medical doctor. It is going to be a tough ride, and it starts with the NMAT.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Do you have to be super smart to pass the NMAT? NO. Being smart helps, but hard work is still the best technique. You can’t control what you’ve got from the IQ genetic lottery but you can keep on putting in the work to achieve your goals. I scored lower in Math on my first take, but I just kept on practicing and voila on my second take, who got a high score in Math? This girl. Work hard my dear future MD. Your future self will thank you for it.

Begin with the end in mind.

Ask yourself why are you gong to take this exam. It is to have the opportunity to be trained to SAVE LIVES. You might not be in medical school yet but if you want that MD so bad, start acting like one now. When you can visualize yourself as a doctor you will be pulled towards that dream. The Universe, God, destiny, or whatever you believe in will not plant this dream if you don’t have what it takes. This is for you. Now go kick some ass.

What keeps me going

I’d never forget that day when I decided what I want to become. I was attending a leadership camp that has changed how I envisioned my future self. I assisted a doctor during a medical mission. It was actually a free circumcision for the kids living in that barrio. I was so amazed by how the doctors neatly stitch the little boy and how happy they were of what they’re doing.

Before, my dream was to be an accountant and be a bad ass lawyer. That was what everybody expected of me. I’ll be a lawyer and be rich. If it were for my father, he would’ve wanted me to do that. But at that moment, I threw all of the ‘supposed’ dream that I had. I knew, I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to provide service like this to kids. I wanted to help people heal.

I was always fascinated with science. Biology was my thing. Science just makes me wanna go to school to listen to what my science teachers are gonna say. I would read anatomy books as a kid and when my dad brings home unused books from his office, I saw a Biology book with two penguins printed on the cover. I would read and read and read and be so happy with what I’m seeing. Finally, it made sense.

My childhood hobbies such as reading very advanced books for my age and being awed by the anatomy of any living thing was for a reason. It was because I know, I was going to study to become a doctor.

The path to this dream is not easy at all. I thought that if I want something bad enough, the world would conspire to make my dream come true. During premed, I was so sure that after I graduate, I will be going to medical school. However my family’s finances hit rock bottom, up to the point that I have to work outside the country to help my younger sister finish her degree. Suddenly, it’s been two years, and I haven’t gone to medical school yet. I had to face being in a foreign land, and be so frugal so that I can send money back home. It is a tough way to live indeed. But you know what? I don’t care. Time will pass anyway. I know that someday, I’ll be in medical school, training to be a doctor. Someday I’ll be able to do what I’m most passionate about.

We all have different circumstances. I have asked the universe why life has to be tough for me. But the universe doesn’t answer back. The sooner you accept that life is unfair, and some people are just born luckier than others, and that it’s totally not your fault, the better it gets. I accepted that. But that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with being in this state forever. I am working as much as I can with all my might, no matter how long it takes. I want a better life for my family and my future family. My future kids should not experience this. They will change the world and not think about all the basic necessities like food and money in the bank. Their life will be better. That’s my promise that keeps me going.

 

What are you here for?

What are we here for? This is a question that many of us want to answer. Some people spend their whole lives finding the reason behind their existence. How do we know what our purpose is and how do we live in line with it?

The unraveling of our life’s purpose starts at the moment we were born. Of course, we don’t have an idea about the things happening around us. We were just little humans crying and being fed. But, our birth marks the beginning of a path that is unknown, yet, meaningful. Yes, each of us has a meaningful purpose. To our parents, we are a part of theirs, and for us, the next events would reveal what we’re here for.

Experience

When we begin to be conscious of our surroundings we gather those little experiences. The things we are exposed to would shape our minds as to what we want to become. If you have so many colors in your room, it could be your first exposure to art, if you grew up in a family of musicians, then, there’s a strong possibility that music might be your way to fulfill that specific purpose. Experience leads us to what we become.

Heart

They say that you should always follow your heart. There are many choices that we are faced with. What is your heart saying? If something is not right, your heart has a way of telling. Well, we should not forget to use our logical thinking, aka, the “brain,” but, happiness doesn’t come from what your head tells you. At least, that’s what experience has taught me. If you choose your brain all the time, it can leave you numb and lonely. To be successful, you need to use a lot of brain but, you have to choose which one you want to prioritize, is it your head or your heart? It’s all up to you. Usually, what your heart says, is where your purpose is aligned to.

Passion

Along with what the heart whispers, passion, is that whisper. It is the thing that your heart is telling you to do. So you love sports so much, then that is your passion.

How do you know what your passion is? It’s when you can’t imagine living your whole life not doing it. It could be music, art, sports, academe, philanthropy, business, or it could even be the weirdest or most random thing in the world. The point here is, live your passion because you only have one life. Passion is the key to knowing your purpose. In one of Oprah’s talks, she tells this story about having the best facial treatment ever. Then she asked the lady giving her the facial, why she’s so good at what she does. Then the lady answered, because picking pimples, and blackheads is her passion. Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, if that is your passion then do it.

Everything Works Out

Experience, heart, and passion, are three key ingredients in knowing and living your life’s purpose. However, a lot of mind setting  is needed. There must be an attitude of, “everything works out.” Life has a habit of throwing random stuff at you, sometimes they’re  wonderful, shiny, and happy stuff. But, sometimes, they are really shitty stuff, to the point that you think you’re the unluckiest human being on this universe. I think it takes a lot of experience to realize and understand that no matter how much and how often bad stuff happens, there are still good and happy moments to come. And that, we should live for the hope of basking in the good stuff.

So what are you supposed to do when misfortunes happen coupled with pain, hopelessness, and a lot of hurt? Feel it. Drown yourself with all the pain you can feel. That’s the first thing you do. If you’re just gonna brush it off, believe me, it will come back haunting you. So please feel the pain. Don’t numb it. Allow yourself to cry and when you’ve poured out all the emotions that’s the time you rise, and move on. Then, start believing again.

That painful journey is part of your purpose. Well, most of the time we don’t understand why those things happen. But should we really know why? Does the world owe us anything? No. At the end of the day, whether you move on or not is all up to you. If you think you were born to share misery to the world, it’s your choice. However, if you will look at the other side, maybe your purpose after all is to be a living example of someone who’s been through a lot, yet smiles and is always hopeful. Maybe you were supposed to be the inspiration of that sick little girl, or that abused child, or the student with a lot of failing grades. Everything works out. Do you want to be a dark existence or a ray of hope?

Patience and Vision

There are two virtues that must be engraved on us if we really want to live a meaningful life. These are patience and vision. We all want to live an amazing life. Though, nobody warned us that it takes a heck of a lot to get anywhere. Sometimes, anxiety creeps in because it seems like there’s no progress at all even if we are working so hard to reach a goal. Getting to the destination needs loads of patience. Maybe, it’s just not your time yet. If we force certain situations to happen most of the time we do end up sabotaging our hard work. I think we must always work towards our goals but we must be careful not to get too obsessed about our expected results. Work hard, be patient, and trust that one day it will all work out. That vision you’ve been wanting to see will appear little by little. You just have to be patient and never lose sight of your goal. Don’t look at what the rest of the world is doing. Just focus on yours. You’ll feel more peace and there’s an element of surprise because you just worked, trusted, and let the magic happen.

Having Fun

Towards the journey to our purpose, we have a tendency to work too hard and forget to be happy. Sometimes we’re too caught up with our goals that we forget to live and have fun. It’s a Friday night, go watch a movie or drink with your friends. Have a blast because you deserve it. Never deprive yourself with the little pleasures. If you have fitness goals, then give yourself a break and have a cheat meal. Go on an adventure. Travel, climb mountains, go to the beach, or get a massage. You deserve it. All of us deserves it.

 

I think we all crave knowing what we’re here for. Maybe you’re already fulfilling it, but you’re just not aware of it.  We just have to make sure that we’re doing what we love. And I hope that what you’re doing is meaningful and is also helping other people fulfill or find their purpose. We have to live not just for ourselves but also for other people. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we’re all just trying to help one another? Maybe they’ll call you too idealistic for thinking that way. But, you do you. Do something because that’s what your heart is telling you.

Of fallen dreams

Tunnel vision.
Clear goal.

I had all of that. I thought that if I want something bad enough, even if the world screams impossible, that goal would still materialize.

Was I wrong? Apparently.

As soon as I left my job I had the time to think about where I am in my life. Am I the person that I thought I was going to be at 22?

Poof. I’m not.

If I were asked where I am, I’d say, I’m in a path that I have never imagined for myself. The life I’m living is not the life I’ve dreamed. But still, I find solace, I find peace. Maybe this is what they call ‘happiness’. I chose it.

Life has thrown rocks on me. And, I just realized that, its just the way it is. No matter how much I question God, the universe, or any deity, nothing will change. These are the circumstances that I was born with, and I got a choice. Am I gonna fight? Or am I gonna die?

I choose to fight. I will always do.

This week, I talked to a friend and she reminded me of a couple of things that I forgot. I told her everything, about my struggles and plans. Suddenly she told me, “if you will go back and face the same problems you’ve had, the reasons why you left in the first place, you might just regret that you didn’t give it one more shot’.

And then she told me, “You are K, you are the smart, talented, ambitious, girl that I met. You are inspiring a lot of people, including me. So please don’t give up. Maybe life is unfair to us, but aren’t we lucky enough because we were born achievers? At least in our case, our brain is capable of thinking about ways to solve our family problems. We have a shot.”

With those things she said, I was awakened. I realized that I was too preoccupied with my problems that I forgot to see the big picture.

When we start to look so hard in our circumstances we forget about the important things. Worse, we forget who we are.

I have come to accept everything. I have decided to relinquish control. I choose happiness. I choose to revel in uncertainty.