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Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I had a strange feeling yesterday while reviewing for my OChem final: melancholy. I am going to take my last OChem exam this week (not sure what I can expect in med school in terms of OChem specifically). I looked back with fondness (what?!?!?) over the past couple of semesters and felt joy in what I had learned.

My first attempt at OChem was a while ago (2007?). I remember going to recitation the first day and taking a test to see whether I could rotate shapes in my mind. They wanted to know if there was correlation between that ability and success in the course. Honestly, I hated that class. I failed miserably (yet passed miraculously), developed and suffered from extreme test anxiety, and reconsidered my future goals.

If I could go back and tell my 24-year-old self that he would be retaking OChem, I'm sure he would have laughed in my face. Maybe even spit in my face; he hated OChem. (Maybe not, although stubborn, he was a nice kid.) What a difference from what I feel now.

I wish sometimes that I could tell my 24-year-old self many things, like "don't be afraid to ask professors and TAs about concepts you don't understand fully", "don't be afraid to potentially appear dumb", "sacrifice a weekend or two out to stick around in the library and study", "get to know your professors and classmates", "form a study group", or "don't underestimate the power of persistence". Or maybe, "you'll get this, you can do it." Things that my 24-year-old self didn't realize. Things that my 24-year-old self was too embarrassed to do because other subjects came so easily to him.

They're some of the same things I have had to tell my 30-year-old self. The difference is that my current self is more determined, more dedicated, and wants this more than just about anything else.

The journey has been rough with plenty of reasons to become discouraged, which I have done on occasion. I have felt dumb and I have asked dumb questions. I have also studied diligently and stood before my recitation and study groups to explain reactions and mechanisms. I have become somewhat fluent in basic OChem-ese and have scored 100% several times on my OChem MCAT passages during my prep course.

I don't write this to boast, because I still have a lot of work to do and OChem is far from being my strongest subject. It would be a lie to say that I have a perfect A in the class. I realize to say that I have done acceptably well is subjective, but it I feel I have given my best and I feel accomplished in how far I have come from that first day in recitation so long ago.

I guess there is a reason to feel melancholy.


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