That Time Embryology Made Me Cry

Yes, this actually happened.

It was last week, my PBL was on the embryology and functional anatomy of the rectum, and nothing was making sense. Hours passed and I’d not written much; I had numerous books out, embryology websites, and even Youtube videos up, but everything they said seemed like a different language. This was when I began to panic.

I was gripped with fear like I’ve never been before. And all my medical school insecurities came out in full force:

“If you can’t understand the embryology, do you really understand any other part of medicine?”

“Ofcourse you don’t get it- you had to do a foundation year so you’re not even a proper medic”

“It’s only luck that’s gotten you this far, and everyone will soon see how much of an imposter you are”

“You’re probably going to fail this year.”

All of this was going through my head, and it was awful. My room started to feel very small, looking at my blank Word document made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, and my chest felt like it was being squeezed.

So what did I do next? Hint: It’s mentioned in the title of this post. I cried.

You see, I debated blogging about this for a while, but I thought it was important to talk about this side of medical school. Obviously I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, feeling like an imposter is a huge part of my med school experience. I find it hard to shake off the feeling that everyone is much smarter than me, and that I’m just good at tricking people into thinking that I’m smart too.

That was probably why not understanding my PBL caused me to react like that. It didn’t help that earlier that day, I’d had some scary talks about third year exams and how tough they are, so that just added to my worries. It wasn’t the first time I’d come across a topic I didn’t understand, but it was definitely the first time I’d felt like I couldn’t breathe because of it. And that was what made it scarier.

A call from the Keen One a.k.a Kenny was exactly what I needed. She gave me some tough love, and reminded me of 2 Timothy 1:7. She also reminded me that of course I’m going to struggle if I try and do it all alone, and that it was by God’s grace that I got on the course in the first place, so I should stop freaking out and take things one day at a time.

She then got me to close my laptop, go to bed, and go through the embryology with a fresh mind in the morning. My sister is my rock, and I would honestly be so lost without her.

So, to anyone else who struggles with med school insecurities and fear of failure like I do, this is a post to say that you are not alone.

(P.S- If anyone was wondering, I got my PBL work done, and it was submitted two whole days before the deadline. Tai (and God’s help) 1 – 0 Embryology).


To My Mother

There is a scene in Linklater’s deservedly acclaimed Boyhood, that reminds me of the day my mum left my father. The children are in the house, and the mother comes with back up to take them away from their abusive father, who tries to stop them from leaving.

I was 5 when I had to make the choice between my parents, and watching the scene took me back to that day. It was nearly 15 years ago and I still remember it so vividly- mum stood outside the house crying, my father begging us to stay with him, family members shouting at us to get in the car… It’s amazing how some memories never leave us, despite how long ago they happened.

I chose my mum that day, and if I had to choose again, it would still be my mum. This is to my mother, who inspired me to start reading as a child, as I initially picked up books to imitate her, but then developed my own love for them.

To my mother, who constantly told me that God has not given me a spirit of fear, which was great reassurance when I was 7 and scared of the dark. To this day, 2 Timothy 1:7 remains one of my favourite verses.

To my mother, who orders our favourite Chinese food when we’re not home to feel closer to us, who loves High School Musical because we do, who got Facebook and Snapchat when we went to university to be more involved in our lives, and who is always on my side, even when I’m wrong, in the biased way that parents are.

Happy Mother’s Day, Abs; 15 years later and I have no regrets.