Write with a pen.

October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last year, I started writing in pencil because I was working on so many calculations. Indeed, there was room for error last year. I could make some mistakes.

As I come closer and closer to finally entering the world of medicine, the pressure is building, and room for error is rapidly closing. In one of my classes, I actually must write in pen, if I want the ability to request a regrade.

The transition has been somewhat unsettling. A perfectionist at heart, I felt that the ability to erase seemed like a safe-haven — and it kept my notes looking flawless. But now I’m writing my problem sets and lecture notes in pen, because I need to practice.

I need to see my errors, understand them, and correct them. I need to highlight my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I need to learn to be better, faster, clearer — the first time around.

This year, I’m not f*cking around.

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You must trust.

April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just read the words, “Trust the Universe,” and it immediately made me feel good.

I like the idea of fate. The idea that everything will somehow come together. The idea that, little by little, piece by piece, everything will be in the right place at the right time, because you were meant to be as you are with what you have, with what you know. Indeed, you were meant to be as you are where you stand. Today and for always.

At times, it can be a relief to think that I’m not behind the wheel. But, despite the fact that I like the idea of fate, my actions expose my true belief system. I believe in work. For me, it’s much easier not to trust the unknown – the universe, everything that’s seemingly out of your control – and, instead, rely on work. You do work; you get stuff done. You drive every moving part forward. Without you, nothing changes.

But when I look at the life that unfolds around me, I can’t help but see how wrong I am. My life is the product of both chance and persistence, serendipity and diligence, good timing and great follow-through. Everywhere I’m headed starts with the blessings and the opportunities I’ve been given, and is realized by late nights, sweat beads, and tired hands.

It can’t be as simple as just trusting in myself, or even just in fate. So, I’d make an amendment.

Trust in yourself and in your power to do. The universe will see you through.

give of yourself.

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

When you think you’ve done enough, do more.

It’s all worth it.

the bataan project.

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

On random Wednesday or Thursday nights, my mother’s house in New Jersey booms with the sounds of familiar voices, the smells of delicious Filipino dishes, and this indescribable, but truly palpable feeling of warmth. For as long as I can remember, mom has been hosting meetings for the Bataan Association, an organization of Filipino-Americans who emigrated from the historic province of Bataan to the Tri-State area. An academic would call them a diaspora community, a group of people from one land – now in another – keeping their ties alive in their new home.

I grew up calling these people, many of my mother’s closest friends and confidants, “tita” or “tito” — tagalog for “auntie” or “uncle.” Through the years, they have cared for me, showed me unconditional support and affection, and, without even realizing it, these amazing men and women have taught me so much about what it means to be Filipino, to be American, and to be a responsible citizen of this world.

Through action, my mother, titas, and titos showed me that true citizenship is not demonstrated simply by providing and caring for your family, working hard, abiding by law, paying taxes and voting. It’s not enough to just move along through life as if it were a self-containing bubble. You’ve got to utilize your powers, talents, abilities to affect change, to help those in need, to leave this world better than when you first came.

I have never been able to separate what I do in life from this responsibility. I yearn to be part of something larger than myself. That’s what the men and women of the Bataan Association and Foundation stand for. They instilled these values, this passion for contributing, in me. I want to help because, to them, helping has never been an option. It is necessity. It is duty.

I’m so proud to be part of the Bataan Association and Foundation, and I can’t wait to help realize the potential that this charity undoubtedly has to change lives in the Philippines. I want to start preparing the Foundation for success in applying for large grants. I want to visit the Bataan scholars we send to college and share their stories with our donors. I want to meet with the regional hospital administrators to assess any major needs. I want to host a yearly medical mission for primary and dental care. I want to create a memorial scholarship in the name of our late founder to send a student from Bataan to medical school.

There is so much we can do. It’s been a slow start, but I’m ready to give more. It’s overwhelming, and I hardly have the time now, but I can’t sit by with all of these ideas, and let the opportunity to do something — anything — slip by. I’ve got to act.

Never the easy route.

February 28, 2011 § 4 Comments

Every now and then, I like to read my past journal entries and blog posts. Most recently, I took a peek at my mind as it was in February 2010.  I love to do this, and I’d encourage anyone to keep a journal. It’s an amazing thing to look back at a version of yourself — your emotions, opinions, ideas from one moment in time, captured for all time.

Today, I almost forgot what it was to feel like I did last February. I was in a fog. I couldn’t see forward or backward. I felt I lacked direction, purpose, meaning. By then, I’d already applied to Columbia’s Postbacc Premed Program, and was anxiously awaiting their response. I worked robotically through the days. Writing what I was told to write. Speaking in the voice of someone else.

Then, the response came in March. It said, “Get set, go,” and I’ve been moving at the speed of light ever since — almost without a moment to think about what life is now, and what life was then. I won’t lie. The premed lifestyle has been crippling. It has taken over my entire life. It dictates whom I see and when I see them, what I do and when I do them. And despite the long hours, the insane pressure to be perfect, the never-ending workload, I’ve never felt so energized. I’ve never felt so motivated. I’ve never felt more alive and capable.

I miss parts of my old life. Going home at 7 PM and turning my mind off. Meeting my best friends for yoga or dinner or a random weeknight bender. I miss money. I miss office parties and weeknight dodge ball. I miss art shows, concerts, Sunday brunches, and reading literature. I miss Saturday mornings in Takafumi’s arms, and Sunday nights with my mom. I miss having the option of taking on knitting as a hobby, and I miss having no reason to not do the things I like to do. In short, I miss freedom. I do. Just not enough.

Not enough to give up what I know I can become, what I can give, what I can do with my hands and my mind. And I know it’s going to be hard. I accept the challenge, and I will continue to accept every future challenge. It’s not the easy route, and it will take a lot of sacrifice, diligence, persistence, and a shitload of post-exam beers.

I signed up for this. As a dear friend said, “This is the life.”

So, get set, go. Every day, move.

It’s been a while.

February 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

I haven’t been writing. I get sad when I think about that, but I’m tired of regret. I complain so often about not having the time to tend to all that inspires me. And, now, I have grown tired of the complaining, the “I’ll get to it tomorrows,” the incessant wanting and never getting.

If you want things, you must work. Every little bit of work will push you forward somewhere, anywhere. That’s the way I’ve been living my pre-doctor life on this unbelievably intense pre-doctor route. I’ve been so good at focusing on my career, and I want to somehow use that same motivation to keep the other parts of me alive. It’s important to me that, when I come out of the other side of this long road — after the postbacc program, medical school, residency — that I can still recognize myself and all that has mattered to me over the years.

the truth about physics.

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Solving problems of any kind, whether physics or social, requires practice.”

Tell it like it is, physics textbook. Tell it like it is.

-m

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