“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.”Alexander den Heijer
When I first arrived at SLU, I had a mostly clear idea of who I wanted to be. My plans for my future were all laid out in front of me, and the possibilities seemed endless. Not only was I on the pre-med track to become a future doctor, I was also newly awarded a position as a Medical Scholar, a high honor that few were chosen to be a part of. Obviously, this made me feel both important and special, and I definitely came into college standing on a bit of a pedestal. As summer swiftly faded into the fall semester of my freshman year and I began my new life, I felt myself come alive at the idea that the world was at my disposal. Until it wasn’t.
Like many college students, I excelled through high school. I didn’t really have to try all that hard to receive good grades, and I took my easy education for granted. When I came to SLU, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. What I did not know until it was too late was that I was definitely not in high school anymore; I had officially entered the big leagues. To my immense surprise, what once was a rare occasion—receiving a B on a test—was nothing short of a luxury to receive here. As a Pre-Health major, the curriculum became much more difficult to keep up with, and in turn my sleep schedule became less of a priority and more of an inconvenience. I could no longer afford to give myself grace for making mistakes, and as time went on, I became crueler and more insensitive to myself every time I fell short. How dare my body give out in exhaustion at 3 a.m. the night before my chemistry exam! Wasn’t I aware that my entire future was riding on this grade?! I should be ashamed of myself! I was well aware just how toxic this mindset was toward both my mental and physical health, but in my head, it didn’t matter. My grades did. End of story.
After sitting inside of this dangerous state of mind for a few months, it became easy to fall further down a slippery slope of inadequacy. During this miserable period, I realized just how real imposter syndrome could manifest inside of a vulnerable person like myself if I wasn’t careful. I distinctly remember a point where I genuinely believed they may have mixed my name up with someone else’s when putting me in these high-achieving programs, because it sure did not feel like my name deserved to be held up against these other future world changers. I feared that I would be forced to watch my fellow classmates go on to win awards and save countless lives while I hung back on the sidelines, begging the coach to put me in for just a few minutes. What an absolutely discouraging feeling that was. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever overcome it.
I slowly self-destructed for the next three months before being gripped with the realization that I could not afford to think like this. While I was feeling sorry for myself over what I thought was a failed attempt at achieving my future goals, I temporarily forgot about all of the people it took to get me here. A fierce combination of my family, friends, former coaches, teachers, mentors and everyone else whose shoulders I stood on to see past this enormous wall of everything stacked against me. All of the people I have leaned on that are currently holding their breaths, patiently waiting to see who I will become. When I was at my lowest here, I learned to temporarily borrow their strength as I slowly regained my own. I thought of these people that invested so much of themselves into me so that I could even be in this position. I can’t let them down. I can’t let myself down either. I won’t.
Maybe I am not cut out for this life. However, there is one thing I know for sure: if this path is not meant for me, then someone is going to have to physically pry it out of my hands. I have not come this far simply to lie down and let go of everything I have accomplished thus far. I’m not sure if I have what it takes to become a doctor, but I can rest assured knowing that I will do whatever it takes to find out. No amount of insufficient letter grades written on my papers in red ink is going to take what is rightfully mine. This I know for certain. Now, as spring slowly rolls over into the summer season, I am excited to take these next three months to find myself once again and gain back my confidence that has long been buried under math textbooks and sleep deprivation. Once I accomplish this, my life can really begin again, and I can hardly wait.