Dear Friend (or as I have called you so many times, Medical Student):
You are an open book. I catch you sometimes frowning on the words written on a hand-out that you complain so many times about, and know that you wish you didn’t dream about this. Your mind runs like it’s in a marathon – and you still tell me, it is never enough… because you’re losing. You oftentimes wish that memorizing and understanding something was as easy as transferring data from a memory card. But reality hits you in the face when it proves to you that it is never that easy. I see reality push you down and drag you to the ground when you fail every quiz… when you can’t answer a question so many of your classmates already know about. And that’s when you start slowing down. You looked at me one time and said, “In our mind, our dreams sparkle with big bold letters and golden arrows pointing at it. But when you try to reach them, the luster disappears and the lights flicker. And you realize that not all the things that shine are alive – aren’t the stars in the night sky dead?”
That day, I didn’t reply. I didn’t know what to say. But now, I finally have something to say. When we were younger, you never mentioned anything about becoming a physician. Yet I noticed how you played doctor when someone got wounded. Sometimes, I see you on the internet playing simulation games of doctors’ doing surgery. And I saw you cry when you wish you were older so you could’ve saved your grandfather… when you wished that he was still alive so he could see you now. Your mother talked about how great he was and you were too late to even know. The next few days, your face beamed as if your mind lit up an idea. And every time someone asked you about what you were going to do after high school, you smiled and replied, “I’m going to become a doctor.” No one told you it was going to be hard, but then again, no one told you it was going to be easy. No one told you that before you got there, you needed tons of coffee, some added kilograms on your weight, sleepless nights, failing grades, tears and blood, thousands of prayers and a lot of people – to tell you, you can do it… to tell you that they believe in you… because you’re starting to lose faith in yourself.
So I am asking you this… what are you giving your dream up for? Is it as important as the many times you told me that you wanted to let people live a little longer so they could still say ‘I love you’ to their family or go to their daughter’s dance recital or simply live? Is it as important as the many people who stood by you, never gave up on you and tirelessly built the stairs that you now climb to reach your dream? Is throwing away your dream not as hard as regretting? Because love, you fought for this. You went through four years of hell so you could finally go into medical school… so you could finally save lives – even if you hadn’t got the chance to save that one person you so badly wanted in your life. Just right now, you are already a physician. You may not have the license and you may still not have graduated but you already are a doctor. Because I saw how selfless you are. How you messed up your life so others could live. You say you feel stupid, that it feels like you don’t fit in medical school, that people are smart there, that you feel that you don’t have the magic hands that can cure. But that is not what I see and most importantly, you are not alone! Many people feel this way… not only in medical school, but in the game of life. So trust me when I tell you that you can get through this. That all your hard work will someday pay off. You are smart. I see it every time you read a line again and again because you try to understand it. I see it every time you fail because you don’t cheat yourself out of it – you want to learn things the best way, not only for yourself but for your future patients. And that in itself is an essence of a true genius. So please start trusting yourself because someday, people will come knocking on your door because they trust you with their lives. Don’t give up. You didn’t come this far just to get the hell out of it. Nothing is as huge as the times your heart started to cave in because you craved for this dream.
And so, to finally answer your question, no… not all the stars in the night sky are dead. They say that stars can live up to million years. So maybe when you look up the sky, you see stars that have seen more than the years you have lived. They have seen many people who don’t walk on this earth anymore. And now they are going to see you live. Let these stars be your dream… that despite the many times the universe might have failed them – they still shine. But then again, I know you. And you will in some way find another loophole. So I’ll stay ahead of you and recall that you did say that not all things that shine are alive. But you’re a doctor remember? Save them.