These last couple of weeks have been interesting and highly stressful. Before jumping in with what I need to do today, I wanted to take a moment to update y'all and regroup so I can move forward with a clear head. Over the past couple weeks, the burnout has been feeling a little too real, the anxiety has been high, and the self-care was fairly nonexistent. I am gonna do my best to not make this post super negative, but I want to make sure that I'm doing my part to not glamorize medical school. Some days I feel like I'm living the dream, but other days it's real ghetto out here and the massive amount of debt I'm in is what keeps me going. This post is really just a brain dump about the last couple of weeks and some of the things that have been floating about in my head.
Okay, so I had my last set exams for my second module a week and a half ago, and that test week was rough for me. For starters, cardiovascular and respiratory physiology are 1000% not it for me. I'm not even gonna lie. I definitely thought I was gonna fail so badly that I'd have to remediate the exam over the summer. The physiology didn't even start to really click for me until about 3 days before the test (shoutout to my tutor), but I still felt like it was too late. Outside of my anxiety surrounding passing my module, Tropical Storm Zeta was set to cause really bad storms the morning of our written exam that Thursday. Wednesday afternoon we found out that the exam got pushed back from 8 AM Thursday to 1 PM because of the storm and expected outages.
Well, I woke up Thursday morning with no power. All hell was breaking loose outside between the wind and rain, and that wasn't even what bothered me. The only reason I even knew my power was out was because I got hot, woke up, and noticed my ceiling fan was off. Needless to say, I had to readjust again and prepare to take my exam at school. My power was *supposed* to be back on by 6 PM, which was fine because I knew I would be at school studying for Friday's lab practicals. When I got home, my power was still out, so I had to prepare to go to my parent's house so I could take my exams Friday morning. By the time I got to my parents' house, I didn't have it in me to try to study anymore. It was one of those things where I just had to do my best and let God do the rest. To quote a video I love, "If God don't do it, it just won't get done".
Anyways, I ended up passing my module and the relief that swept over me was amazing. So far, my summer is still wide open :)
This election was a mess from jump, but trying to actually find out who was gonna be the president for the next 4 years was the hot mess express. As a Black woman, I am concerned for my safety. I was really concerned not knowing the outcome, but I knew it could get dangerous for me either way. Racism, white supremacy, and white privilege are not things I'm fortunate enough to be able to ignore. I know that certain Trump supporters and supremacist groups have no problem harming or killing a Black person just because they're Black. I'm 100% certain I have classmates who voted for Trump and have certain beliefs I can't agree with. I'm also aware of where I live, and being Black in a red state isn't always easy for me. I really felt tense from Tuesday until getting results. My anxiety surrounding the election ended up "getting in the way" of my school stuff last week, so I'm really working on giving myself grace to process and still be productive. It was hard for me to fulfill my obligations as a medical student while also being very concerned for my safety as a Black woman. There were several moments where I found myself feeling upset that this wasn't a challenge my white classmates had to deal with. A lot of them don't know what it's like to be "other" because they are the default in this country. Yes, some of them may be Biden supporters or identify with marginalized groups in this country, but unless they advertise it, people wouldn't know, so they aren't in as much danger. I can't hide that I'm Black or ignore the fact that many people in this country view that as a weapon or something that makes my life worth less than those around me. Last week was a time I really missed being at Claflin and not having to explain of justify common concerns or other unspoken that come along with being Black. Of course, we still had varying opinions on things, but that was one thing most of us could identify with. Black people, please protect yourselves and surround yourselves with a support system that truly has you covered. Take care of yourself and protect your peace at all costs. I'll be working to do the same.
I'm sure most of us know about the medical students that are widely known and social media famous. The ones with thousands of followers and fairly large platforms compared to the majority of us medical students who are just trying to make it. In all honesty, the idea of whether or not I want a platform like that has been on my mind a lot over the last couple weeks. Some days I don't and I'd rather have my life and keep it as private as I want while I'm working on myself, but other times I want to be somewhat of an open book and have a large platform like that. This is mostly because I want to be able to help people who look like me and come from similar backgrounds to be able to count me as one of their very own melanated mentors. There are things that I want to be able to do along my journey and things I currently have in the works that I want to be able to reach people with. I put a lot of thought and a lot of work into these things, and sometimes I wonder if it's even worth it. Do people read these blog posts? Is the Brena B, MD portion of the website helpful to anybody? Is my transparency about my path to get here reaching anybody? Are the ideas I'm working on really going to matter? The truth is, I really don't know. I want to make an impact, but I don't always feel that I do. This is something I'm passionate about, but sometimes I wonder if I should just hang it up and focus more on myself and my studies. Every time I have those thoughts, I know I don't want to quit, but I don't want to feel like I'm wasting time and effort either.
I really just wonder.
I'm going to stay persistent in this because the messages I get from people who reach out to make this worth it. I may not have thousands of social media followers or a platform as large as some of the medical students and physicians I follow, but I won't give up. I just have to do my best to not compare myself to these other people. I have to find my lane and stay in it. I have some things in the works that are really big, but more details will be coming when I get the details (and the funds to do these things) ironed out. Y'all will most certainly be some of the first to know.
This post has been longer than intended, but I can honestly say I do feel lighter and like I can jump into my work with more of a clear mind. If you made it this far, thank you for reading and I'm gonna go ahead and wrap up.
In closing, I just want to leave you with something I have to remind myself of often. It applies to life in general, but I'm sure you can find specific areas in your life it applies to as well. For example, I apply it to life as a whole, but I can also specifically apply it to school, the work I'm doing on myself, getting better in finances, etc. I've been sharing on my IG here recently, but it's something I tell myself every day, multiple times a day.
Endurance, not speed.
Nothing great or worth having happens overnight. Whatever the goal or area you apply this to is, it's about achieving it, not how quickly you get there or how slowly you feel getting there compared to others. What's yours is coming to you, even when it doesn't feel like it. I find myself comparing myself to other people a lot - whether it's my classmates, friends, people I follow on social media, or people I look up to - and I lose sight of myself and acknowledging my journey and its timing. Those three words always bring me back and help me get centered on what my focus needs to be - ME.
Be back soon :)
brena b, md.