Sunday, December 28, 2008

Straight as the Arrow Flies

Okay, I'm done with break now. I tend to think too much, my brain doesn't want to stop. I need something or someone to keep me distracted periodically so I can stay focused (weird as that sounds). If I'm left to my own devices, my brain gets bored and I start to brood in dark thoughts. This has unfortunate ramifications.

I go to bed between 2am & 3am and wake up between 10:30am & noon. It's so hard to go to bed at night because my bed is freezing, and it's so hard to get out of bed in the morning because my bed becomes an island of warmth in a room of cold. I've found it particularly difficult to get out of bed the last several days. I would wake up and lay in bed for an hour or more before getting out. I also wake up with this . . . soreness at the base of my sternum. I think it's psychosomatic. But I digress, a little.

My life has been, by and large, "straight as the arrow flies." It has always been about the next step - about preparation and delayed gratification. I worked hard in elementary school so I could do well in middle school. I worked hard in middle school so I could do well in high school. I worked hard in high school and practiced the SAT/ACT (a lot) so I could get into a good university. I got into a good university, but then I had to work on keeping my grades up, doing well on the MCAT, doing research, getting clinical experience, and etc so I could get into medical school. I haven't deviated once from the path of this arrow's flight, though there were many instances that made me wish I had. I had set my mind on something I and I stick to it.

I've worked so damn hard, always to get to the next step thinking I'd breathe a sigh of relief when I get there. But I never do. I never took a break, I went straight as the arrow flies to the next step according to plan. I followed the damn Asian model. Granted, grad school for a year instead of med school is just a minor misstep along the path. I'm tired now, and unmotivated. I feel like I'm married to my career (which currently is grad student).

I can't help but wonder how many chances to hang out with friends I've turned down in order to study. Or how many other experiences I've forgone in order to prepare for the next step. I can't help but ask myself what I've missed out on all these years. Don't get me wrong, I've learned a lot about people, life, and myself over the years. But just as everything in my life seems about set, something feels like it's missing.

That something is that I am lost in all matters of the heart. I've never dated. I've barely kissed, so I know I'm no good at it. I'm not sure how to flirt, or how to tell if someone's interested, or pick up on hints. I don't know how to get someone interested in me. I don't know what to do if a person IS interested in me (hasn't really happened before). I don't know who I am romantically or sexually. I want so badly for love to just fall in my lap and steal my heart away - to be so enthralled by someone that it defies all logic, to hold someone and cuddle for hours while listening to his/her day, to learn how to kiss and make myself vulnerable. I've had a taste of this once, but it was quite ephemeral; what remains resides in memories. I think the scariest part is that I might've suppressed this part of me for so long that I'm not sure I would recognize if I'm attracted to someone.

And you wouldn't immediately know upon seeing me, but from time to time it tears me up inside. It's like, my chest is heaving and trembling on the inside, and that soreness below my sternum comes back. It would be unfair for me to do something now at the end of a step and right before the next, so I'm cursed to suffer in this limbo for another few months at least. Come med school, will I have time still to figure all this out? Or will it be too late? I feel strangely alone.

Wow, and just skimming through, I've just seen this post plummet into the darker corners of my mind. And so the arrow continues to fly, ever nearing its target (whatever that is) and flying by a whole ton of things that I probably have missed along the way.


Anonymous said...

Aek, you're only 22, don't panic so much. I've been in grad school going on 4 years now. My entire life has been as you described, one delayed pleasure for another promised one. So I think I can speak with authority on the matter for you.

If you let it, I think you will find med school to be a great growing period. You will learn to put work where it belongs, and you will learn when it's time to do other things. And I even think you will learn to love and to be loved.

As for something falling in your lap, I wouldn't wait for it. And I wouldn't wait for love to hit you like a ton of bricks. I think for you the process will be more natural, organic.

GAH, I feel like none of this will help. I know you're feeling bad, and I know why, and I feel precisely the same way sometimes. I wish I could just disappear your worry and hurt. Perhaps just focus on the fact that this will not last.

AND, btw, you are NOT a bad kisser. I think you learned very fast (I mean, from what you've told us). ;)

Anonymous said...

And another thing, I had NOT read this post before you went to bed tonight. Don't ever do that to me again...I'm still worried...

Steevo said...

aek, aek...

the problem is u r just too damn intelligent for your own good. lol

u have access to a world class med school at UM and all their medical services.

Find a damn psych resident who is as cute as you and do some TALKING! Give him some practice and maybe in the process of talking it all out you'll get better insight. Maybe you should try to escape the Asian destiny work ethic process in order to be a better doctor some day.

A doctor/-.5 med student who has himself as a patient...has a fool for a doctor, right? The ol saying?

You are so intense and self aware and analytical that you may need an outsider who does not know you to get an fresh new objective perspective. At least try it.

From what I hear of med school pressures, you should be ready for it in every way possible: physical, emotional, financial, etc.

hugs galore....


Joshua said...

When the darker corners of your mind are exposed, you reach a new "level" of understanding yourself, because it's different than knowing they exist--it's actually finding out what those dark corners hide. In any way, it's never too late to make friends, and it's certainly never too late to find ways to make yourself happy!

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a while and have never commented before but reading this today it felt like I had written it. I don't have a solution but wanted you to know that much of what you have written resonates.

charlie said...

Hey man, I understand what you say... It has been the same for me, you always wait for a moment to relax but never really have the time to, because when you have it you think about all the things you have to do... it's terrible!

Try to take time with a good friend and chill out, laugh a lot, and have a nice time, it's the best medicine!

Concerning love, you never know. Things always happens at the more unexpected moment! I did the experience :) But being alone sucks, I know...

All the best!


naturgesetz said...

Love won't fall into your lap if you're sitting at home, unless it's someone you find on the internet. Much better to take some time and get your lap out in public every now and then.

And don't worry about not knowing how to do all those things you talked about. Just talk to people you like, and let people you can stand talk to you.

Sorry you're feeling so bad about it all. Med school will probably be a very busy time, and internship and residency probably even more so. But there will be time that you don't have to be studying, and time you are off duty. You will meet a lot of people as you go along. Let yourself get to know them. Let them get to know you. Make time for it.

And don't forget your old friends.

E said...

Yeah, I can feel where you're coming from. I went into a self-imposed exile in order to do the "right thing" and now I feel like I'm behind. What no one tells you is that there is no time table for matters of the heart. You can't put a approximation for when something should happen. I remember reading a post by Brassmatt [AJ's boyfriend] about how a few weeks back he was gay, closeted, and lonely. Now he's out to most of him family, lives with a guy that loves him, and is gaining confidence each day. Its like school. Sometimes you gotta just stay diligent.

It seems like that's easy to say, but I honestly live it each day. I'm lonely, I'm trying to finish school, I'm working to support myself, and I constantly have to choose whether to work hard or play hard; and even when it's time to play I often choose to work. I have learned to find satisfaction in the realization that each accomplished step leads me closer to my goal. I enjoy it for a bit, then I get right back on the grind.

My Dad gave me some of the greatest advice during my first year of college. I was having trouble with a Chem class, and (for the very first time ever) told him about my frustrations. He said "Son, if it was easy, then everyone would do it. If becoming a doctor or lawyer was a simple task the world would be full of doctors and lawyers." That struck a chord with me and propelled me forward. I use the same psychology on myself now. 'If it was easy, everyone would do it.'

This went a but longer than I intended, but I hope that you gleaned something from it that will help. I am certain that you are not alone, especially in this circle of people.

Aek said...

To all: Thanks.

James: I'm sorry. With respect to kissing . . . it didn't feel exactly "right" (though, it certainly didn't feel wrong - two completely different things). I wish I had more time to experiment with kissing to get it right.

Steevo: I also have really good access to pubmed - the US database on biomedical research. :D But I won't be at UM for too much longer as I'm not going there for med school.

Joshua: Dark corners, hidden closets, the mind is full of strangeness. Thanks for the good words.

Anonymous: Your comment struck me. Thank you for your comment. :)

naturgesetz: To be fair, I'm only such a bum at home. I'm rarely in my apartment on campus - I'm always around somewhere on campus. So I'm usually out and about in public somewhere, lol.

E: Thanks, I'm just so tired of being diligent. Work my ass off at everything, though to some it seems like things come easily to me (they usually don't).

kozozoko said...

Higher education is a paradox... even as you learn things that show you how wide the world is, the self-discipline required to master the knowledge and skills ties you down, keeping you away from that wide world...

At least that's what I felt. Don't know if I ever resolved that paradox.