To the Brave Ones

It started around this time last year, maybe even earlier―how I knew I wasn’t going to stay. When I finally, consciously, acknowledged it, though, I was struck by the gravity of what I was leaving behind: more than the university, more than the sacrifices, more than all the time I have devoted to the course.

I was leaving all of you behind.

It was a tough decision to make, one I have been teetering upon since our first year in college. But I never really got to it because, right from the start, you had this force that made me want to stay with you.

So when I left, I watched your memories pile up without me. I watched you share and grow in experiences that I could no longer join. I watched as you got on with your lives. And even though it made me lonely that we were no longer together, it also made me tremendously happy―you were living your lives. And to me, this is what matters.

I want to see you thrive in Dentistry. I want to see your potentials dawn like the bright suns each of you are. I want to see you conquer each hurdle and grow with each milestone. I want to see you embrace your triumphs as well as your failures, your joys as well as your pains.

You are a strong bunch of people and it is a privilege to have been with you. This is my way of telling you all how much you have inspired me throughout the years. You have influenced my character in so many, perhaps even strange, ways and I am glad. I like who I have become because of you. I am glad that I have imbibed your humor (all the corny jokes got through somehow), your strength (all the storms we’ve braved), your happiness (all the laughter, sometimes borderline hysterical), your courage (all the talking in front, the sometimes embarrassing oral reporting, as well as having those preps checked by the professors), your hope, your love, your camaraderie.

You have kept me sane and saw me through my last and hardest semester in the college, and I cannot be more thankful for that.

Really, thank you for everything. The long breaks spent in hallways, talking; the visits to coffee shops and milk tea places; the block lunches; the movies; the funny jokes, and even the corny ones; the pictures; the countless games played on whichever iPad was available; the support; the friendship; the love. I have so much of you people in me, and I am happy for that. It’s great to have you as my friends, because ours is a friendship that doesn’t need much―only each other’s company. And food, of course.  Milk tea is our alcohol (although recently you girls seem to have leveled up, haha) and lunch breaks are our parties (because really, when did we ever have the time to actually go out and party?).

You all have my gratitude for putting up with me. For being with me during my formative years. For creating memories that will live on in my mind. For taking me in and making me one of you. For loving me despite my flaws. For showing me that there are relationships in life that are forged in fire and made to last a lifetime.

Forgive me because I couldn’t stay, but know that you are buried deep within the chambers of my heart, carved into its muscular walls, part of its anatomy.

Right now, I know that you are all having a difficult (an understatement?) time in the course and perhaps I am no longer in a qualified position to tell you these things, but I’ll tell you anyway:

It will be alright. Not immediately, of course. Rome was not built in a day. But you will learn to live and breathe Dentistry, and gradually you will be able to adjust. Or maybe you’ll always be in the process of adjusting to it. Whatever the case is for you, remember that the way you go through with it will not always be the same as with others. Carry on. Whatever works for you, do it. More importantly, learn to value rest. You all deserve it. We’ve all been there―the sleepless nights, the coffee-laden days, and the inevitable crash. It’s time to avoid this recipe for burnout. Self-care is significant.

Most of all, wherever your hearts are right now, I hope and pray that they are in the right place.

You have made me proud by committing yourselves to a profession so noble and so difficult. Your training is unlike any other. Dentistry is detailed, nuanced, structured, practical―endlessly challenging and beautiful―and you are made for it.

So, soldier on. Your fibers are made of gold, ductile and unbreakable. Your resolve cuts like a diamond, the hardest of all minerals, unbeatable. Your journey will wind through a road paved with amalgam, brittle and prone to fracture if unsupported but strong with bulk.

Know that I share both your happiness and your sorrow, your two sides of the coin. I may no longer be physically present often, but my heart is with you. I will support you all always (except if you go against the principles of the University which are, to reiterate, honor, excellence, and heroism).

May the odds be ever in your favor, future dentists!

I love you and miss you every day, my Block 15.

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