Sunday, September 12, 2010

Method to My Madness

I'd like to take a moment away from studying for my immunology exam (on Monday) to address the comments in my last 2 posts.

First, I Blame the Wine
Where to start. Understand that I've erected several mental walls throughout the years, often without realizing it until I find myself running and banging my head against them. It takes effort to break them and it takes time to reduce them to rubble. It's taken a number of years to get comfortable enough with public speaking, something I'm still not 100% comfortable with at all times. It's only in the last few years that I've found a way to put on a mask of sociability when in large social situations. And it's also only in the last few years that the thought of coming out even existed in my mind.

There are things that come easy to people, and there are things that don't. The above are all things that don't (or didn't) come easily to me. They required a significant amount of active energy. There's this sense of dread that washes over me - increased heartbeat (tachycardia, if you will), a shakiness, a rush of panic afterwards. It's uncomfortable and not a natural feeling. It's oddly similar to guilt.

Is there a good reason for this reaction? Probably not. The human mind is irrational about many things, no matter how we would condition ourselves. That I'll come out to Dr. P at some point is practically an inevitability. The question is simply when and under what situation.

Second, In This Regard, I'm Quite Lucky
Yes, I've been under overwhelming stress being the president/co-president of 2 student organizations and the co-chair of 2 student-run programs. Pardon me for caring. Pardon me for re-vamping a program with my co-chair to better serve uninsured patients (and med students) at a free clinic. Pardon me for wanting to promote health education/awareness in a community that's difficult for people outside the community to access. Pardon me for trying to organize a health fair in the inner city. I can do all this because, amongst the other presidents, I have a skill for systematizing how I organize things down to practically a protocol with a series of flexible deadlines.

I'm well aware that the USMLE Step 1 is paramount. I need no reminding. I refuse to freak out about it like many of my peers (many of whom are aiming for the more lucrative fields of medicine). Overwhelmed and stressed as I seem, I do have a plan. In fact, my plan is manifold. As they say, there's a method to my madness. You see, dear commenters, the vast majority of the events I'm heading occurs this semester. By January I'll only have 2-3 more events to organize/run. By April I'll have already transitioned my position to M1s. I'll have a pretty solid 2.5 months to focus on nothing but the Step 1 (well, not counting class exams).

So as my involvement in extracurriculars winds down as the months wear on, my effort towards studying for the Step 1 will be ramping up. Also, I've decided to participate in my school's Step 1 Review program with 2 of my friends; and that program will probably start in October or so. As you can see, I have things currently under control. And besides, I don't need a high score to place into a pediatrics residency. Though, of course I've no intention of settling for just passing.


Biki said...

If any one can handle a full plate it is you. You are very object oriented, and that my friend is a complement. You have the the ability to organize your time, and stick to your itemized day.

I have never doubted on your doing well, or not being able to handle your many "masks" in your daily life.

Just remember to schedule some fun time for Aek, yeah?

Mike said...

It sounds like you're doing your best!!! Keep your head up!!!

Aaron said...

I beg to differ on the first one. The mind is actually rational for many, many things. In fact, the mind is often (or always) wired because of the things that we do, our past experiences, knowledge, wisdom and other physiological systems. I think the brain is the only part of the body that is able to adapt itself so quickly through its plasticity. Your fears have to be linked to something else. The problems with you aren't the walls that you put up and the social anxiety, but what about those that you are afraid of - what about human connections and deep feelings that makes you feel uncomfortable. There have to be a reason or a series of events that have led you to put up these walls to protect yourself.

And secondly, you might think that you are doing good and all that, but if you are under overwhelming stress, I don't think you are doing anyone any good. I know sometimes we get caught up too easily in "changing the world" and helping others, but really, what truly matters is our own wellbeing first. It is only when we have good mental health and wellbeing that we are able to help others. It is not about changing the external, but changing the internal. If we are doing what we do because of something external, it can't be sustained and it us extremely unhealthy. We need to change what's within. You are not doing any good until you can balance things well and you are doing because you love doing it, you enjoy doing it and you are not unhealthily stressed because of doing it. I know, because I've been there.

But having said that, I hope you think twice and actually take care of yourself. As you move forward from here, what truly matters to you - your life or all these non-existential possessions that does not last? If you don't do anything, things aren't gonna move anywhere. We all hate being told what to do, but sometimes, we need that nudge.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Aaron. Take care of yourself first. I am a firm believer in the saying that charity begins at home. Your efforts and desire to be able to help others are commendable and admirable. However, if you become overwhelmed and over-extended, you might get sick. Or you would have less time for your studies. Your education must be the priority because that is the foundation of your good future. Then you would be better equipped and in a better position to help others.

I don't mean to douse your idealism, but balance it with your own needs.

I'll send you my bill later.

Caesar Augustus

Ron said...

omgomgomgomg USMLE step 1 *runs around with arms flailing*

Hishy said...

I've noticed that you always talk about situations that make you uncomfortable in terms of... well, variables. You want to do it, but x and y don't seem to be right. You felt like it was the right moment, but y and z made you hesitate. I don't know if it's because of your science background, but I just get the feeling that you like having 100% control of variables and hate going into any situation when x, y, and z don't align completely. I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing, and this is really just conjecture on my part, but life's variables are usually uncontrollable, and sometimes waiting for them just means waiting for a perfect environment that may never come along.

To be fair, I may be out to most of my friends, colleagues, and a few family members, but I am still not out to my parents because of the risks involved.

Aek said...

Biki, Mike: Trying. :-/

Aaron: Even so, they feel irrational. I actually refute that the brain is above the rest of the body in terms of adaptation, but that's not the point. :-P I haven't reached my limit yet, but now I can see the wall. If I can survive through . . . next Sunday, I'll be okay.

Ron: Pretty much. Pretty much.

Hishy: Hmm, it might be a result of my science background. That does make sense. All of life is an experiment, hehe. Yes, I do like it when all the variables align. We as people may be unique in our ability to willfully shape and manipulate many of these variables. That said, you have a point.