The reason I have not been writing is partly because I’m busy, but also because I didn’t want to face the possibility of having to write about me dropping out. Just to be clear, I am NOT dropping out of Medical School, although at times I struggled to keep my head above water. Despite this, I have passed my first exam well; really bloody well and I am preparing for my second which will be in little over three week’s time.
Looking forward is inevitable and necessary. I have started to enquire about accommodation and have found this amazing opportunity to live in subsidised student accommodation, guaranteed for the remainder of my studies, in exchange for an hour or more out of my week to get to know an elderly resident and organise an event every-other month for the care home. It is perfect and understandably, highly competitive. I worked in a Nursing Home and Dementia Unit for two years whilst studying for my A-Levels and I am currently volunteering on the phones of a listening service overnight. I feel as if I have the skills to get a lot out of this experience. Yesterday I went along to volunteer at one of the events that they were holding and some older Medical students introduced themselves to me. It dawned on me that what they were seeing was a me as a medical student that would be a doctor in five or so years. I understood that this would mean a commitment to myself and others to complete this. I am trying to look at it as encouraging rather than overwhelming. I AM going to commit to a future that is longer than six months ahead. When I know that illness can strike at any point, it is daunting.
I am also planning on going travelling this summer! I have never done anything like this and it will be an opportunity to make memories and grab as much of life as I can. I was invited to go with a friend who I met last year and is now in second year. It made me so ridiculously happy that they wanted to do something like this with ME. I have money from the my ‘gap’ years in between study when I have been ill so this is the perfect opportunity to make the most of it. I want to feel normal and experience everything life has to offer.
It is strange that I am looking so far into the future and making plans. It is just as terrifying as it is exciting. It has given me motivation and hope. And yet there is this nagging doubt that sits on my shoulders telling myself that if I spend so much time with one person, they will realise who I am.
I am not a complete person. I am flawed. I am ambivalent. It has highlighted that I have lost a year. It is a year that no one will know about in the future and might as well have never happened. I have met so many new people that have no idea that my body is littered in scars. I am experiencing a split in my identity as the medical/ academic student is trying to detach from my past.
I still experience this bizarre sense that my identity is fragmented. Who will I be whilst travelling? We went to a travel agents yesterday afternoon and all this guy would say was “It was just so cool, I found myself, I made friends for life!”
His selling technique would have been great, but he was pitching to the wrong people. I highly doubt that this trip will cure me of my lack of identity. I want to experience life, taken back to just what I have on my back and not entirely sure what I am going to see on the way.
After the appointment, the two of us went to the main Medical School building after hours. It was beautiful. All the anxiety that I experience when everyone is there during the day dissipated so that I could finally take it all in: A high ceiling with a large central staircase spiralling the course of three floors stood and waited patiently, the ornate banisters perched on top, unused, and the large canvases holding esteemed alumni didn’t look threatening anymore. Silence.