A Heart in Place

It’s been so long since I wrote that essay declaring my love for Medicine. Five years ago, I was 17 and hopeful. Dentistry proper was still a month away, and I entertained the notion of pursuing Medicine after graduation. I was young, naïve, and like Jon Snow, I knew nothing. I thought that life would work in your favor if you put in enough effort, if you wanted something hard enough—that things would magically fall into place, if you just pulled yourself together, gritted your teeth, and went through with it. I realized that magic, in real life, was nothing grand; it can be found in the little things: kind gestures, help when you most need it, the comfort provided by a person listening. I learned the hard way that people are made for some things but not for others. We have a niche in this world, where our respective skills, talents, and capabilities belong.

There is truth in the saying that nothing worth having ever comes easy. I was adrift for a while, untethered, searching. But even then, I knew what I really wanted. I could’ve been on my way to it earlier, had I written a different course for my first choice in that application form, or had I shifted as early as my second year in college. But I didn’t leave, at those crucial junctures in time when I had the opportunity.

So I got lost in the process, but I also found myself eventually.

Regret was strongest immediately after I uprooted myself and left Dentistry. Why had I not left sooner? Why was I doing this only now? Why am I like this? Why can’t I just go through it like the rest of them? Crises plagued me left and right, and I learned to dislike myself, too, after a while. The worst part was feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything, while all my friends were getting on with their lives, full of purpose.

It took me years to let go of the stubborn perfectionism, to shed my deeply ingrained habits that were no longer doing me any good, to learn to enjoy and accept my life and the direction it was taking: medical school.

I enrolled for NMAT review two summers ago, but I didn’t take the test until October of last year. By then, I was smack in the middle of a research proposal and final exams. (I am stronger than I think. Budding self-belief. Progress.) A month before that, my grandfather passed away due to the complications of prostate cancer—and I was scattered, to say the least. I wanted nothing more than to stay in my room for a while, to breathe and remember him. But life goes on, even when you need it to slow down for a bit.

By grace, I pulled through. I started applying for medical schools, feeling the steady excitement in my ribcage, realizing that things were finally picking up. I got accepted into University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC) last March, along with many of my classmates. Still, I was waiting for Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) to release their results—they typically release their results later than most medical schools, so patience, young Padawan—and then yesterday came.

I woke up late in the morning (as usual, I am not a morning person 😂), fresh from a dream: that I was accepted into PLM-CM. This was funny because we’ve been expecting the results for so long already that it finally settled into my subconscious. I told my mom about the dream, but forgot about it for the rest of the day. We took the kids, Eia and Vince, to the dentist, and then a thunderstorm broke as we were on our way home. At home, my mom received a bouquet of flowers sent by dad (yes, he’s cheesy, haha) to celebrate their 14th anniversary as couples (read: different from wedding anniversary, take note, everyone). We had food from Jollibee delivered, to celebrate the occasion.

Then my classmate, Daniel, messaged me with congratulations. And I really, seriously did not know what he was referring to, until he told me I got into PLM-CM.

A bunch of frantic searches later, and I found the picture with my name on it. #47.

IMG_0332

My mom and I were freaking out. I sent the link to dad, a PLM-CM alumnus himself, and he replied with “Enroll na.”

Since March, I’ve been thrown into a dilemma as to which I would choose, should I be accepted in both.

On April 29, I wrote:

Despite this dilemma on which medschool I’ll end up in, more than anything, I hope that my heart will always be in the right place.

Medical school is an expensive venture (and I wish schools would stop commodifying education). Still, I’d like to believe that it’s not just the school that makes one a good doctor, but also one’s values, work ethic, and character.

As I go into medical school, I’d like to take with me the values envisioned by the two schools I’ve been in for the past seven years:

Honor. Excellence. Service.

Justice. Humanity. Progress.

My mind turns back to the dream I’ve had, before I woke up yesterday. I couldn’t help but think: fate. It feels a bit like serendipity, but I know it’s going to be difficult. I will be tested, again and again. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. But this time, I am ready for the growing pains. To learn, to make mistakes, to learn from my mistakes. To become.

Adding to the serendipitous feeling is the fact that The Book Stop Project has settled for the meantime in Plaza de Roma in Intramuros! This project has been around since last year, and I’ve been meaning to go visit it for the longest time. It’s a pop-up library that changes location after a specified period of time, and you can exchange your preloved books there. Roi and I are dropping by tomorrow, after we go to PLM to confirm my slot. Hoping they stay there for a while!

Hope and grace for medical school and beyond. 🌻

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