I have gone my whole life pressing towards one thing, one goal, and one desire- going to medical school. Everything was ALWAYS lined up and “planned for” in my head…It was ALWAYS supposed to be .
And now look at me. I’m fresh out of college. “Freshly” 21. And everyone always tells us life after college is different. We’re always told to treasure “the best four years of your life.” The four years where all you had was- late nights and early mornings, procrastination, shot after shot, sneaking your guy friends out at the “wee” hours of the morning after co-ed visitation is clearly over…parties in sketchy places, the house parties you only go to for the free food and alcohol, the parties you finesse your way in for free, the horrible parties, endless movie nights, and we can’t forget the inevitable stress during midterms and finals…and so much more. During this time, no one ever told us…this wasn’t the time to “find us”. It was just the time to “be us.” It was four years full of freedom, fun, pain, regrets, and joy. It was pure bliss. No one told us that in the midst of all the college magic, there was no “degree” that could ever prepare you for what would come next.
While I like to plan, I also like to prepare. But what happens when you prepare…and you STILL fall? I thought I had the perfect little set-up. I studied hard (EXTREMELY HARD), got a good GRE score, and got into a top public health graduate school. And I was going to study even harder to “prepare” for an even better medical school. That was the plan. Fresh out of college. Fresh 20somethin’. I was headed to graduate school AND medical school. And then it happened.
The summer started . I started my summer internship, and most importantly…I started studying to take my first Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). And time after time…each day got worse. Each day got more stressful. Each day caused more pain. Each day caused more heartache. Each day brought little to no results in my studies (and that was ON TOP of little to no results with my summer research). Sure, this could’ve been the result of my laziness post-graduation, my tired state post-work everyday, or the simple fact that it was summer. But, I was living. This summer was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me OUTSIDE of MY “preparation” for applying to medical school and my new chapter after graduation. I learned more of my weaknesses, I was tested, I cried, I fell AND got back up, I loved, I met awesome new friends, I turned 21, I loved more, I took risks, I despised, I compartmentalized, I destructed, and I met, cherished, and loved a new ray of sunshine…perhaps even a new soulmate- my dear friend Monty.
“I’m not a teacher, baby, but I can teach you somethin'” Push. Push. Push. I push myself harder and harder. We’re told these phrases “Work Hard, Play Hard”, or as I say “Work Hard, Play Harder.” I even pride myself on my favorite motivational song, “I Don’t Get Tired” by Kevin Gates. The point is…the stress, the breakdowns, the unhappiness, and the lack of motivation this summer…it brought me to two questions. Two questions I didn’t stop to take the time to just reflect lately. What am I doing? And why am I doing this? There you have it. This “motivated, driven, ambitious, and creative” 20 somethin’ that everyone likes to say is “so inspirational” is now so lost. THAT’s the truth. And I don’t run from my truth anymore. I live in it. Let me take the time right now to say…Live in yours.
“This is for them 20 somethins’. Time really moves fast. WE were just 16!” If you’re lost right now…STOP. STOP RIGHT NOW. Now, breathe. Because guess what, my friend? You’re not alone. I’m lost, too. We’re 20-somethin. So, why are we worrying about the career that we want to thrive in at 40? Why are we stressing the man/woman who didn’t call us back? Why are we crying at night for friends that are no longer there? Why are we PITYING ourselves? Why are we holding back? WHY ARE WE LIMITING OUR POTENTIAL? We’re 20-somethin. Something that we’re going to WISH for within the next decade or two. So, how are we going to play this? Do you want to look back at the shots that we missed? Or….do you want to look back at all the SHOTS you TOOK? The shots that went in the basket…the shots from the free-throw line…the BOMB three-pointer…and even the sloppy lay-ups. And you can’t tell me you won’t appreciate the stumbles, the blocks, and the foul plays. Time does move fast. How are WE going to spend it? Or we going to spend it depressed over the degree WE’RE getting and may never use? OR are we going to trust time and trust the universe? Here’s how you really school life…lean in. You ready? WE CANNOT BE IN CONTROL. WE CAN’T. THERE’S NO FUN IN LIFE IF YOU ARE. And take that from the girl who let go of control this summer. Take that from the WOMAN who was reborn this summer, from the woman who doesn’t mind getting on stage and embarrassing herself dancing, from the woman who managed to find her way when she was lost on a hiking trail, and from the woman who’ll make you smile even through your tears. So cry, my friend…it’s okay. Because you didn’t imagine 20somethin’ to feel so “independent” all at once. Cool. I didn’t either. I thought I even “prepared” for the independence and the loneliness. But even my preparation for those failed.
“Not a preacher, but we can pray if ya wanna!” But who says you have to be “alone” as a 20-somethin’? See, the thing about us 20-somethin’s. We want to swim and not drown. We want to swim without having a buoy to float. Our damn pride kills us. But, listen up…each and every 20somethin’. Give it up. It’s not worth it. This past week, I broke again. And I broke in my school’s bathroom at that. Not once, but twice. And I called no one. Not my mom. Not my girlfriends. No one. It was just me and my silent tears, literally. But tell me “20-somethin'”, why does it have to be like that? What? For the sake of saying “You can handle your own?” ? For the sake of saying you’re an “strong, independent woman”? For the sake of “being a man”? Well, you do that. I’ma call a spade a spade. Sometimes, I CAN’T handle my own. Sometimes, I need to call home to ask mama to send me money. Sometimes, I need to call one of my guy friends and ask what’s wrong with my car. Sometimes, I just need someone….to hold me. Sometimes, I’m not okay. And often, I call home or my newly, very good friend…and pray. Our pride is a problem, and I can understand it. But sometimes…maybe not all the time…WE have to let it go. And if you don’t want to call anyone…well then call someone (or something?) that will ALWAYS answer. Don’t forget to pray. Tell God what’s wrong. Expel into the universe what’s hitting you. Ask for the positive vibes you need. Life will fail us. But God and the Universe?! WILL NEVER FAIL US!
Last but not least, “There’s not a real way to live, this for real. Just remember, stay relentless….Don’t stop runnin’ until it’s finished. It’s up to you, the rest is unwritten!” So what now, Dia? What’s next? I don’t know…and as bad as this sounds…I don’t care. I canceled my scheduled MCAT test that was set for September 2nd, and I decided to stop “pushing.” I decided…to choose me. I decided….to school life. I decided….I don’t want to live my present life stressing over something that I have a LIFETIME to do. And for what? Because I was constantly looking at my fellow 20somethin’ classmates who were headed to medical school, young, and…20something. I wanted that. I wanted it and I wanted everything I said above…all before the age of 50. And don’t get me wrong…I still do. This is not some epiphanic post to say I no longer want to go to medical school. Nah, that’s not it at all. I’m Superwoman, remember? At least, that’s what everyone tells me. CURRENTLY, it’s still MY end goal. But, I’m not just “going” there. I’m “growing” there. So….there’s no more time limits. There’s no more pushing. I could apply at 25. I could apply at 29. I could apply at 35. But, from now on, I’m going to constantly answer my questions. “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing this?” If you ask me this NOW, well…I don’t know what I’m”doing” in a degree that I’m finding it hard to adjust to. But, I’m being light and being love….I’m going to inspire women and children. I’m going to advocate for women. I’m going to learn…and I’m going to learn all that I can about gender, and healthcare, and gender rights, and gender equality. I’m going to change a community. I’m going to help people LIVE…and live fruitful lives, healthy lives…a life with equality and freedom. I’m going to write, and I’m going to keep writing. And why? Well, because I think this is my own storm to mold me, to form me, to build me….into a mother of many…many crowds…many populations…and maybe even... many nations of women and girls. No matter where I go, no matter how far, this is what I’m doing NOW…I’m SCHOOLIN LIFE… for a voice….for my voice…for a voice that can’t be heard. I’m….sparkling. I’m sparkling with all my might. I’m…being light. And I will go….in whatever career, serve in every capacity, and write everywhere in what I’m called to be. I will continue to spread love…and spread ME.
Will you join me?
Here’s to our 20somethin’s! May they write our stories, grant us love we’ve never imagined, break our hearts and piece it back together, and show us EXACTLY who we’re meant to be. As you wake up each day, realize our “purposes” are always changing. Above…you just read what I currently “feel”. This life..these feelings…these purposes…they’re all obligated to change. Change. Something we can’t stop. So, what now 20somethin? Don’t let life SCHOOL you. KEEP YOUR HEAD ABOVE WATER. Live. “Go out” when you have class the next day. Take a risk with that girl who’s “just a friend”. Binge watch that show when you have work due the next day. Love without the worries of “defining the relationship”. Meet new people. Make new friends. Take a girls trip to New Orleans and get SMACKED on Bourbon street. Get lost in a new place by yourself. Take yourself on a date. Workout every day. Drink more water. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Live AND prepare. Not one without the other. Work hard, but don’t neglect the play. PLAY HARDER, and don’t forget the work. BE….YOU. Live and love. That’s the ONLY thing you’re going to want when you’re no longer even “somethin'”. You’re going to want a life WELL lived…and a life well loved. Live, give, and let love in today. And then tomorrow…live and love even more. Because before you know it, we’ll be at this door…and no longer 20somethin’ anymore.
Godspeed My Fellow 20somethin’!
Your Present/Future Superwoman
“I know that you can do all things and NO purpose of yours will be thwarted” – Job 42:2