I recently had the exciting privilege of having one of my blog posts published on a popular website. Although I have written many things over the years, the idea of mass consumption of my thoughts was predictably nerve-racking. Perhaps all writers feel that certain excitement admixed with the nervousness of impending judgement. The unexpected thrill I felt to see my name on the computer screen brought back a flood of memories, taking me back to my first semester in journalism school.
I still remember the first time I saw my name in print. My first big story, which appeared on the cover of The Diamondback. It was 2004 and I was an inexperienced, naive, fresh-out-of-high school, yet incredibly eager journalism student. For reasons I no longer recollect, I landed the job of interviewing Morgan Spurlock, famed Super Size Me guy. In my best Dianne Sawyer impersonation, I cut right to the chase and asked Mr. Spurlock the type of question that was on the minds of all our college readers: how has his sex life improved since he stopped eating McDonald’s ever day? I think he mentioned something about his wife being much happier. The details of the evening are a bit foggy. I will however, never forget the feeling of a deadline. I hurriedly typed my portion of the co-written story, and in movie-like fashion sent it off to the editor just minutes before our midnight deadline. I went to bed that night feeling alive. Up until that point, there had been nothing more thrilling than waking up in the morning and walking down the college mall to see hundreds of students reading the Diamondback. They were reading my words. Perhaps most never bothered to look at the small italic line with my name on it, but the feeling of accomplishment and contribution, however trivial, stayed with me to this day.
Although in the end, I was not cut out to be a journalist, I learned what it was that makes me feel alive. It is the pressure of a timely response. The necessity of a quick decision. Being up when most people are comfortably at home sleeping. Not being afraid to put myself out there. And most important of all, making a contribution to someone’s day. Whether it is relieving their pain, giving them peace of mind or actually saving their life. The best way I can describe how I feel when I step foot inside the hospital is-alive. Most people work to live, but I can honestly say that being in medical school has been the happiest experience of my life. I live for it. Especially this year, as we finally commit to memory the endless differential diagnoses that exist, the limitless things that can go wrong with us. Medicine is the perfect combination of challenge and reward. I feel humbled to have the privilege of ensuring someone’s well-being.
I challenge all of you to find that something that makes you feel alive, that evokes the perfect mixture of nervous excitement. For many it is nothing nearly as all encompassing as a medical career, whatever it is, let us never stop striving for more.