2018 | Don’t Sleep Through Life & Wake Up Dead

As cliche as it is that I write a post every single New Year, I enjoy having this space and snapshot in time to reflect. Life is short. Our Christmas Eve sermon at church made me think about this: imagine yourself in a room filled with everything that brings you happiness. In the furthest corner is death. Every year, the wall you’re standing against pushes you one step closer to death. There’s no other way to get out of the room, but through death. I want to be conscientious of not sleeping through life and waking up dead.

Wow… 2017 was a whirlwind. It was one of the most trying and transformative years of my life.

Thank you 2017 for: the loss of an unhealthy and mismatched relationship, self-love, self-worth, ability to run a marathon, a closer relationship with God, living in my true values,  confidence in who I am, MD Camp reunion with two lovely future DOctors, life-transforming mask activity in the cultural competency workshop, donating my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, medical student coordinator role at Physicians Free Clinic, secretary/treasurer position in student government, secretary/treasurer position in Humanism in Medicine, being selected as 1 of 2 OU+REACH scholars, the start of my public medical Instagram journey, When Breath Becomes Air, class humanitarian award,  the opportunity to develop my public speaking skills at events for accepted students, getting to know an old friend better, my cousin’s wedding, completion of first year of medical school, adventurous walks/hikes/runs, two weekends of cognitively-based meditation training at the Cleveland Clinic, the summer running group, healing my acne, good health, Leroy A. Rodgers preceptorship in family medicine, leading the OU+REACH healthcare discovery camp for high schoolers, rediscovering my hobby of video editing for our student government YouTube, watching fireworks from the 40th floor in a building downtown with friends, leading orientation for incoming first-year med students, catching up with Lois in Athens, shadowing in-patient family medicine at Grant Medical Center, two week vacation to LA, the best Korean shaved ice experience, lots of sun and beach time, seeing San Diego for the first time, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend experience, meeting an elderly stranger on the airplane and becoming pen pals with her, the beginning of second year of med school, treating a patient with OMT for the first time at a CCE, really understanding OMM through teaching the first years as a TA, my OMM professor planting the idea that I could have a future in academic medicine/medical education, fun 20-mile long run on the Olentangy Trail with RunColumbusRun, closer friendships with my med school classmates, Ohio Heritage Foundation video interview about why I chose my school, 25 years of life, having the opportunity to go back to my high school to speak about osteopathic medicine, catching up with my high school anatomy teacher, finding a church community with like-minded and -hearted people, meaningful conversations at the Dean’s house, kind compliments and feedback from classmates, painting on a canvas for the first time, reviving the Humans of OUHCOM Dublin page, shadowing in (neuro spine) surgery for the first time, getting to know more medical faculty, making friends with regulars at the gym, networking dinner where I exchanged contact info with a woman in medicine that I’ve been running into since the few months before I began med school, caroling at an assisted living facility with Humanism in Medicine, kind-hearted classmates that helped me complete 11 no-sew blankets before the holidays, authentic and vulnerable conversations, starting my qualitative research project over break, Christmas hot pot meal with church friends, playing Settlers of Catan for the first time, New Years Eve gathering with church friends.

So much has happened — growth, progress, small victories. Often, medical students may feel sad that they’re missing out on life. They see their friends getting married, making money in jobs, buying houses, having kids, going on vacations around the world. This is why I don’t enjoy logging on to Facebook. But if we all take the time to reflect on our journey, there is a lot to celebrate and feel good about. How amazing is it that we get to experience such wildly diverse experiences in four years that not many people go through? I just had conversations about this topic and both doctors said it took 10 years to get to a comfortable place in life, but in the end all the hard work and sacrifice was worth it.

Reflecting on last year’s goals, I did pretty well! I accomplished all 10 at some point during the year, but the majority of them I want to continue in my life. I’ll write about three new ones I have. I don’t really make resolutions in the traditional sense of SMART goals, but I take time to think about what kind of person and what type of energy I want to radiate in the new year.

In 2018:

  1. Live Your Truth: This is my 2018 motto. Our psychiatry professor always inputted little nuggets of wisdom in his lecture and this one was my favorite: “listen to your friendly psychiatrist. You got one life; you got 24 hours. Sleep first. Exercise vigorously next. Then, decide on what values will drive your life. Then, fill the rest of the time with value-driven life that you’re creating for yourself.” I didn’t know what a value-driven life meant until I read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People over winter break. Imagine yourself at your funeral and looking down at your casket: what do you want your immediate family, friends, work colleagues, and church/community organization to say about you? Those are your values. This was the year I realized I’m made in God’s image from which I developed immense self-love and purpose. I am finally at a place in life where I have a clear picture of my values and know that I don’t have to change for anyone or be ashamed to be who I really am. The truth is: you can’t please everyone. Be who you are and those that are meant to be in your life, will be. I hope to live my values and my truth every day in 2018.
  2. Simplify: This is inspired by my need to hunker down to study for Step 1 this June. I’ve heard someone describe this as the darkest time of their life. I do feel nervous at this point because I know I should be diligently dedicating some hours every day to study for it on top of school work, but I’m relishing in break just for a little longer (I’m going to start tomorrow!). To simplify, I’m going to limit social media use to once a week, focus mainly on studying and exercising for the next 6 months, transfer leadership positions to our first-year students, finish OU+REACH research, say “no” more.
  3. Serve with love: I aspire to be a genuine person that radiates kindness, warmth, love, positivity, and authenticity. Even in difficult situations, I want to be reminded of our shared humanity and to love others as my fellow brothers and sisters on Earth. I’m grateful to have found a community of like-minded and -hearted people at church with whom I can grow in faith with.
    • On relationships: Love is not a thing that needs to be earned by changing yourself from the person you are. I am truly understanding what it means to love yourself before loving another. I’m not rushing, and I’m not settling. I trust in God’s plan ❤

Wishing you a new year of sincere love, happiness, peace, prosperity, success, good health, and blessings.

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What I Learned about Life While in College

I have a lot of drafts I never published, so I decided now’s the time! This will be part of a series where I explore and reflect on life milestones and experiences that have helped me reach the position I am in now – a second year med student whose goal is to incorporate humanitarianism into the practice of medicine. I am also very passionate about passing on wisdom that I have learned, which is a large reason why I write. Hope you pick up some pearls along the way ❤

1. Be somebody that makes everybody feel like somebody. Ask questions that don’t elicit a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer by using prepositions like “what”, “how”, and “why?” (shoutout to Student Wellness Center Wellness Coaching). During college, I discovered that I love deep and vulnerable conversations that get to the core of what makes us human.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask someone to be your mentor if they are in a position where you want to be.

3. College is a really important identity-forming period. For most, this is the first time ever being away from family. You will experience peer pressure. Stay true to yourself. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, don’t. If you don’t want to go to the clubs, don’t. In the end, you don’t need to worry about what others are doing or what they think because this is YOUR life. You’re in full control of your decisions. Check in periodically and ask “if I’m a stranger looking back at me, would I be friends with myself?” Half way through my first year in medical school was when I felt 100% confident in who I am, what I stand for, and the values that I won’t compromise for anyone. This can be a lengthy process.

4. You are a reflection of your closest friends whom you spend the most time with. Are you proud of that? Choose these people carefully.

5. They say you’ll make lifelong friends with people that live in your dorm during freshmen year. This is not always the case and it’s okay. Some friendships are meant to be for a season and some are meant to be for a lifetime. Be a good person regardless and trust life.

6. Don’t be afraid to be very busy. Junior year was definitely the most busy if you’re on the pre-med route. You’ve got one foot in undergrad and another foot trying to figure out how to get accepted to medical school. On top of all of that, you might have leadership positions, research, volunteer commitments, and other organizations. I would be on campus from 8am-8pm running around to different functions. I think this helped transform me into a person who can successfully balance academics and extracurricular activities, while still maintaining a vibrant personal life.

7. Try to enjoy your senior year as much as you can. College is certainly a very unique time that you will not experience again. If you’re pre-med, you should be working hard freshmen, sophomore, and junior year. By the start of senior year, you will have already applied to medical schools if traditional and you’ll look forward to interviewing. Take classes you’re actually interested in, spend time with good friends, go to different events on campus, stay involved in organizations you’re passionate about, and celebrate when you graduate. Don’t worry too much. Life has a funny way of working things out. I know that’s easier said than done because I experienced all the feelings associated with realizing you’ll need to take a gap year. Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll share with you what I did during my gap year and why I sincerely recommend it for everyone!

Happy Old Year and New Year | 2016 | Year of the Monkey | Gratitude Jar

I know, I know. It’s way past New Years, but I’ve had this on draft since January 1st and really want to share 🙂 I thought I would have more down time in AmeriCorps – boy was I wrong. It’s a good kind of busy – more on this in a later post. To be fair, Chinese New Years was on February 8th so I’m only 3 weeks late right? I also found out that if you were born in the year of the monkey, you’re supposed to have an unlucky year when it’s the year of the monkey again according to Chinese traditions. I was thinking it would be the other way around – lucky on your birth year animal. Who says you gotta follow the status quo? I’m planning on having an exhilarating year!

This year, I had one of the best New Year’s. In the past, I usually had quiet New Year’s Eve nights in or hung out with a few friends at their house. Leading up to the night, I thought I would be continuing this quiet tradition. Then, I had the chance to spontaneously say yes to an invitation to spend New Year’s at a friend’s house. We recently re-connected, but have known each other since elementary school.

This is something that makes me feel alive: reconnecting with people whom you knew in the past. I had a chance to do that with almost everyone that ended up coming over to his house. The intricate details of people crossing and re-crossing paths in life fascinates me.

On the topic of celebrating New Year’s: my most favorite part about this holiday is how almost everyone is extremely positive about the upcoming year and enthusiastic about being the best versions of themselves.

I had dinner out and a worker at the restaurant said “Happy New Year and Happy Old Year, no one says the old part.” I thought that was very clever and we should say Happy Old Year too.

I have a lot to be grateful for in 2015: achieving mental clarity about life purpose, the ability to always look on the positive side, mindfulness of being grateful for the little things, capturing my grandmother’s hearty smile before she moved to California in my last selfie with her, competing in a jump rope competition, trying a pint of Jeni’s ice cream as a result of being nominated for employee of the semester, working at the RPAC (which brought me so much happiness and it was exciting to develop unique relationships with coworkers and students I swiped in), visiting Chicago, ending BLF on a good emotional note, attending first Crew game, winning a short visit with Dr. Drake in this office with some friends for grad week, the life-changing mentorship from my research PI, graduating, attending Steve Aoki concert, shadowing in Psychiatry, taking my last MCAT, frolicking in a sunflower field, serving with AmeriCorps, moving away from home for the first time, getting accepted into medical school, organizing a food drive on OU’s campus to serve students in need at my site, getting to wear scrubs to serve, getting to see a lot of old friends from grade school during breaks at home, going to trivia night in Athens, experiencing home visits in the community, and an extremely fun last night of 2015 reminiscing and playing games.

Here are some goals I will work on for 2016:

  1. Say yes more. I have realized that I tend to hold myself back from making new memories with new people.
  2. Improve relationship with mom.
  3. Just do it. Recently, I’ve been annoyed with myself for waiting to get things done, especially if it revolves around a conflict. I feel that I am this way because one of my top 5 strengths is harmony. I tend to avoid conflict and I am very good at doing that. Eventually, I do accomplish the task at hand, but with all the agony of mulling over the problem inside my head. So I resolve to “just do it” and tackle situations as they arise instead of thinking too much and waiting for something to happen.
  4. Live in vulnerability and authenticity.
  5. Vlog!
  6. Don’t be too humble. This sounds weird, but I hate hate hate talking about myself in person if there is no goal of helping someone else. This can come across as having low confidence and I don’t wish to be perceived that way.

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Additionally, I was inspired by an article to create a gratitude/happiness jar. The concept is to write down people, opportunities, experiences and things that you are grateful for on a daily basis. I feel that life is better lived when we are more appreciative.

To create your own jar, grab:

  • decent-sized mason jar
  • decorations/crafts to your liking: yarn, string, construction paper, scrapbook paper, markers, stickers, cut-outs, pictures, glitter, ribbon
  • hot glue gun
  • some friends! 🙂

I had a great time making this with two of my closest friends, and I cannot wait to see what all we were grateful for in 2016.

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Day 17 (Monday, May 19): Songs that Bring Back Memories

Woke up around 7:30am because I thought we had class in the morning at 9am, but walked to breakfast to see that no one from OSU was there. Breakfast was pancakes with onions and tea. I sat by myself for a couple minutes until Kelsey F. walked in. She tried eating outside, but it was too humid. Shortly after, Adam and Drew walked in. Kelsey informed me that Dr. Raj cancelled class for this morning. I was surprised because I was mentally prepared for some early morning learning. Kelsey asked if I wanted to go to the Manipal Store. Dan and I went along. The store wasn’t open yet, so we found the little shop where Sesen purchased her bangles. Kelsey bought some.

We walked back to the hostel, and I decided to try the laundry service for the first time due to the large accumulation of clothes from the weekend Mysore trip. I brought my clothes down to the first floor in a white bag, and the woman gave me a slip to return back to the room later that day around 3:30pm. Then, I walked back to my room and did some journaling and blogging. I also checked in with my mom on Skype for almost an hour.

Anna knocked on my door around 12:30pm to walk to lunch, and we stopped by Lauren’s on the way to get her. There was some very tasty limeade at lunch today. I drank two cups.

As I was leaving with Kelsey R, Sahanna told me Sesen spent the time creeping on me this morning to find the picture with Justin Bieber, but didn’t see it (I shared that I took a picture with JB before he got wildly famous when his song “Baby” came on in the van). Sesen said my Facebook pictures don’t reflect who I am and that it doesn’t even look like me. This got me thinking about authenticity. In BLF, we have explored this term in regards to leadership, and I believe we should strive to be authentic in all parts of our lives (i.e. not putting on an act for show). I recently had a conversation about this topic with a friend, and he refuted saying that the personal and professional sphere should be distinguished (i.e. you should act differently at home vs. work). I definitely agree with this statement also. So the conclusion I have come to is that your morals and values should transcend any roles that you play in life. Those should always be consistent, which is an important part of being authentic and genuine. This is not the first time I have heard a similar statement said about me. Introspectively, I told them that it takes some time for me to be completely comfortable with new people. I am working on this, but it’s in my personality and nature. As for the not looking like me bit, I suspect it’s the make up. I used to wear a lot more in my middle and high school days, but I like to keep it simple now. I didn’t bring any to India and went au natural, which was extremely refreshing.

Before class, Lauren, Kelsey and I sat in the first floor coffee shop to update our journals and download the lectures. I caught up through the second day of Mysore from drafts saved on my phone. Akon’s “Right na na na” came on over the music system in the coffee shop and pleasantly caused a flashback to Chand’s jams in the van. I really like when songs remind you of a moment in your life, for better or worse – such a unique human feeling. The nerd in me just decided to look up why songs evoke vivid memories. Here’s the neuroscience/psychology behind it: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-do-the-songs-your-past-evoke-such-vivid-memories
So neat that this phenomenon can be used for therapeutic purposes! #sciencerules

Lecture with Dr. Raj at 2pm was about communicable and non-communicable diseases. Communicable diseases can be described as contagious (e.g. hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, influenza, malaria, polio, TB). The spread commonly occurs via airborne viruses, bacteria, blood or bodily fluids. Non-communicable diseases are not passed from person to person and are also known as chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular diseases – heart attacks and stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases – chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma, diabetes).

Here are some lecture highlights:

– India suffers from more communicable diseases than noncommunicable (opposite is true of the US and other developed countries).

– Eradication is better than elimination.

– The flu vaccine given each year is a prediction of upcoming strains, so it is not a guarantee that you’ll be protected. However, people have said their influenza is milder if they received the vaccination.

– TB is caused by a virus. It is a big problem for India.

– For coinfection of TB and HIV, the TB is treated first.

– In India, HIV/AIDS is commonly contracted by sharing needles or heterosexual intercourse.

– Why don’t drug companies invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases? Drug companies won’t make that much money because it only heavily impacts certain areas of the world.

– Mental disorders in developing countries are heavily stigmatized. There are hardly any counselors or psychiatrists available.

Lauren and I picked up our laundry after class. The service cost 150 rupees. Some of my clothes/bath towel was tinted blue (suspecting it was the dye from the Manipal shirt), but I didn’t care too much.

Tea time around 4:30pm: fried veggies and ketchup. Kelsey, Lauren and I decided to check out Bombay Bazaar and took a rickshaw there. We thought it was further down the road from the university, but it ended up to be within walking distance. The driver charged 25 rupees. The bazaar didn’t really have souvenirs, but rather household items, such as cooking equipment, brooms, shoes, clothes, containers and simple jewelry. Then, we explored many of the stores surrounding Manipal. Lauren bought a collection of journals at a Hallmark store. Then, we serendipitously discovered a small clothes store, which had a whole plastic bag filled with scarves. Kelsey and I bought the same patterned scarf for 100 rupees.

I felt an immense headache during the shopping trip, so I took an Advil when we returned to the hostel. For dinner, Kelsey and I decided to try the Chinese food on the second floor at Yodragon. I was craving some stir fried veggies, but couldn’t really comprehend the menu so I just ordered Hong Kong chicken and noodles. Kelsey ordered honey chicken and noodles. Mine was in a dark soupy sauce, which I’m not fond of, but the food generally tasted good. Several people bought soft-serve ice cream for dessert, which persuaded me to get chocolate and vanilla swirl in a cup.

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It cost 15 rupees, which is equivalent to 25 cents in USD. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. It was a chill first day back, so I only took one picture the whole day.

Kelsey and Lauren showed me a WiFi spot at the back of the cafeteria. We sat on some steps and chatted. It was nice, except for the nighttime bugs. We had a heart-to-heart conversation about our feelings of homesickness towards the beginning of the trip, the out-of-body realization that we were in India at that moment in time and how we should make the most out of our remaining days.