reflections

it’s hard to believe it’s only been seven weeks.

in those seven weeks, i’ve had two midterms, one final exam, one anatomy practical, a number of check-offs and standardized patient encounters, countless quizzes, and even a reflection paper (what). it’s currently the second unit of the semester, with the final coming up in 2 weeks, 1 day. when they tell you medical school is a marathon not a sprint, they’re not joking (well.. partially. it feels like i’m sprinting the marathon). when they tell you medical school is like drinking out an exploded fire hydrant, they’re not lying.

hours pass slowly, but days pass quickly; weekends, unfortunately, pass the quickest of all. mornings turn to afternoons to evenings to late nights without my noticing. the sun rises after i get to campus, the sun sets before i leave it. i am always acutely aware of what time it is supposed to be, yet horrendously oblivious at the same time – the same goes for the day of the week and the day’s date.

i feel like all i do is study. one lecture here is roughly one week of lecture from an undergraduate course. i read textbooks, pore over atlases (not one, not two… but three!), rewatch lecture (…or watch for the first time if i’ve accidentally overslept or not-so-accidentally skipped), stare at one slide of a powerpoint for 20 minutes before i realize i’ve retained nothing. oh, also. i lied – i snack just as much as i study. you need glucose to focus, i say as i open the fourth can of pringles this week. i’m getting kind of sick of sour cream & onion.

before i sleep, my routine consists of writing out an hourly schedule for the next day. “5:30 alarm. 6:00 actually get up/get ready. 6:30 school/study. 9:00 lecture/breakfast. 12:00 lunch. 1:00 PCM lab. 2:00 study one hour; lecture 1. 3:00 anatomy lab. 5:00 home/dinner. 6:00 study. 12:00 sleep.” do i follow this schedule to a tee? the answer lies in how many days before an exam there are.

i sit with friends, people who were mere strangers just less than two months ago, finding the most inane, borderline-inappropriate things to laugh over. i tell them i’ve never been trick-or treating. “but… today in lab while going around the tank collecting fat/ fascia in the bucket.. i could imagine what it must be like”. coping mechanism? maybe. i don’t think others would find humor in the the things we find funny.

pride rises from the strangest of “achievements”. i have a really good triceps deep tendon reflex on my left arm, if you want to practice on me. my standardized patient told me i was really good at being personable. i can remove fascia really quickly now – let me show you. maybe it’s because there is so little else to brag about at this point of my career; being in medical school doesn’t seem as big an accomplishment after you do some practice questions and the answers sheet is littered in red ‘X’s.

medical school is incredibly, unbelievably difficult. i’d be lying if i told you i haven’t sulked in misery at least once or twice (a month? a week? a day? an hour? lol) since arriving here. actually, to tell the truth, i’m writing now because of this semi-unshakeable feeling of discouragement i’ve had recently. it’s totally irrational, i know. it’s only been 7 weeks, and i’m also the one who’s spouting to my friends that this is “still the adjustment period”, that we still have so much room to grow. but it’s easier to give advice than take your own, you know? i feel dumb, i feel inadequate, i feel jealous. old habits die hard, and the comparison habit is especially strong in a place where we are assigned class rank and earn +/- letter grades. i wonder if anyone will ever be able to entrust their health in my hands one day – i sure couldn’t trust myself based on how i’m doing right now. it’s an active task, a daily fight, to curb those unhealthy thoughts and emotions. to remind myself that being here is an immense honor, a privilege, a blessing. that through the suck, it’s somehow really, really fun. and the fact that i made it here should indicate that i can make it out.

maybe in four years, i can read back and laugh at how sad i was, less than two months into first year (i know, so dramatic), and then i can reminisce the good stuff that came from these first seven weeks. performing OMT on a classmate for practice and it actually working. going to a coffee shop so many times the barista recognizes you and gives you a snack while you study. trying every single crab rangoon in town and creating an elaborate ranking system (instead of studying, whoops).

*i have to go back to studying and have no time for a conclusion, i’m sorry guys*

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i will fight to follow

^ that is the title of one of my first drafts. i started blogging my freshman year of college, as a very very optimistic eighteen-year old. i remember writing late into the night, taking study breaks from bio and calc to document my thoughts. every few months, i’d stay focused enough to finish a post, and it was published. my flaws, my trials, my successes. i was sure i’d look back and reminisce on my growth through those posts. i was right. but i had no idea that i’d also be thinking back and reflecting on my drafts.. the unfinished thoughts.

it’s interesting to see how so much has changed since 4.5+ years ago, yet how so many things haven’t. i’ve gone through hills. through valleys. seasons of pursuit, seasons of being pursued. seasons of dryness, seasons of overflow. seasons of fighting to follow. seasons where following was the easiest thing i could do.

in this particular season, i’m really needing to fight. yet… i’m not really fighting, actually. not really following, either. i think the word for this season is apathy. passivity. uncaring, unbothered. but the thing is, it’s not something that i’m intentionally doing. i’m doing what i can to escape the stagnancy. trying to pray. trying to read the word. engaging in discipleship. going to church. serving in church. finding community in church.

but at the back of my mind, there’s a voice. liar. you’re a liar. hiding behind the facade of someone who has it put together. you have nothing together. you have nothing. you are nothing.

it’s a dangerous voice. the most dangerous words are those that contain a glimmer of truth. i don’t have things together. i am putting on a front that things are better than they are.

but then those truths become twisted, and just like a pair of headphones tumbling around in a backpack, it becomes harder and harder to unknot the lies that ensue. i’m worthless. i deserved this. it’s all my fault.

. . .

here’s the truth. i’m not put together. i’m more than halfway through my gap year, working at a low-paying, low-glory, temporary job. i might have to take another year off if i don’t get accepted somewhere. i hate that i am not currently a productive member of society. i get jealous at my friends who are thriving and struggling in medical school (also jealous of my friends who have stable jobs and are living independently, or my friends who are engaged or married or NOT long distance and are starting lives with the loves of their lives). my family is being torn apart (physically) and i’m worried out that we will be torn apart emotionally. i go through periods where i feel extremely anxious and depressed, and subsequent panic attacks. i have one interview next week, my only medical school interview, and the fact that it’s just one and that it’s so late in the cycle freaks me out.

but here are more truths. i am not unworthy. i’m not worthless. no matter what punishment my sinful self deserved, i have a God who for some reason, extended unimaginable grace and delivered me from a lifetime of condemnation. i don’t understand it, and i most likely never will. everything is under control, even if it’s not under my control. i belong to the One who loves and desires good for me, not evil. i can really, really, really, lay my burdens down at the foot of the cross; i don’t need to face anything by myself. there are people around me who love me and treasure me and exemplify the love of Christ in tangible form.

i am in desperate need to take steps away from the lukewarm. God hates it, and in beautiful imitation of Him, so do i. i need to once again start the journey to fight to follow.

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two points

two points. that’s how short i was by. two. small. points.

i’m currently sitting here, writing as a way to process my feelings and try to speak some good advice into my life. also trying hard not to cry. that’s a lie, i’ve already shed a couple of tears.

i’m finishing up the last week of undergrad, selling textbooks and packing and spending time with friends while counting down the days to graduation (five). i’m also waiting for my final exam grades to be posted. it’s one of the most stressful parts of the beginning of summer, waiting and watching as your GPA fluctuates before it settles, hopefully in a range that doesn’t induce a depressed netflix-binge (at least, for me).

the process is a little different this time, though, than it has been in the years past. this is my last round of finals of college, the last round of finals for a while (a year, at minimum). there’s a sense of finality, an added pressure to do well, because there won’t be following semesters to make up for my mess-ups.

it was supposed to be my “perfect 4.0 semester”. no shambliness, no mistakes, nada.


i’m sure you know where i’m going with this.

three days ago, i deduced that i needed a ninety-five in a particular class to make an A. a particularly low quiz average had led to the need for this nervously high grade. to get that 4.0… i needed that ninety-five. two days ago, i took that final. i walked out of the room thinking to myself that i had gotten the A. this morning, i woke up to a notification that i had made a ninety-three. ninety-three on final… 89.77 in class. no rounding.

as soon as i saw that number, my mind froze. i’m not getting an A? what do i tell my mom. what happened? this isn’t my 4.0 semester? what do i tell my mom? why did i not get a ninety-five?

as soon as i saw that number, my thoughts started attacking me. all of those feelings of not being good enough, of being a failure, of self loathing began to bubble up. janet, what is wrong with you. why didn’t you work just a little harder? you’re so stupid, janet. you’re not good enough. you couldn’t even manage to get two more points.


just a few days ago i was saying the words “numbers mean nothing. you are smart. the number don’t matter. GPA isn’t everything. MCAT isn’t everything. there is so much more to life and becoming a doctor and pursuing your future than focusing on those numbers.” and i really meant it.

even yesterday at church, pastor Jimmy reminded us that all of our needs are satisfied already in Christ, and i nodded along emphatically, thanking God that all my needs were provided for before i even knew i needed them. my life wasn’t dependent on an A, or a 4.0, or success.

but… those words and thoughts go out the window when you’re put in a difficult situation. when you’re short two points.


there is no real happy ending to this story. at least, not yet. it hurts, feeling like i’ve failed yet again. i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t worried about my future, if i said i wasn’t disappointed. i’d also be lying, however, if i said this was the end of the world. right now, it hurts. bad grades hurt. failed relationships hurt. feeling like you’ve let yourself down again hurts. but… after the thick of this storm passes, this too will be insignificant. hopefully.

i’m resilient. maybe stupidly so, but resilient nonetheless. stay with me as i find a way to weave yet another failure into my story and search for that happy ending.

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i love my baylor

i love my baylor.

i love the green and the gold. i love my friends, my classmates, my professors, my church. i love the community that i have been a part of in the last three and half years. i love that i have been stretched, challenged, grown. there is absolutely no doubt that God placed me in waco for a reason. i stand for baylor. i know this is the story of so many others alongside me. four years of joy, laughter, and fond memories. but i cannot stand for baylor ignorantly thinking that this is everyone’s story. i stand for the 17 baylor students whose baylor story was crushed in a moment. i stand for those women who had an immense amount of courage to stand up for themselves and to be vulnerable, knowing their story could be easily twisted and they could be further humiliated. baylor took steps this year, trying to be transparent in the issue of sexual assault. some say it was too late, but nonetheless, we took those steps. in the process, we lost leaders that we once looked up to and loved. my heart broke, learning that my school was so flawed. but i had hope. i spoke with others who’s hearts broke for baylor. for the 17. i, perhaps naively, believed that every one understood the gravity of sexual assault.

the blackout at yesterday’s football game has broken my heart once again. the men and women selling shirts with #cab broke my heart. all i could think when i heard was, “what would i be thinking if i was one of those seventeen women.” the shirt silenced the voices of the sexual assault victims with four characters. #, c, a, b.

the relationship between sexual assault and athletics is messy. let me tell you, i have been torn on how to respond so many times. one can argue “i support art briles AND i support rape victims”. “i support baylor football AND i know rape is wrong”. it’s more complicated than that. there are also so many opposing voices and so many different stories. the board of regents says this. the football coaching staff says that. the title IX office issued this statement. the news station released an article that said that. it is hard to discern.. you know what? i don’t know what to say. my heart is just not right with where we are right now.

i pray for my baylor. i pray for the seventeen strong individuals. i also pray for the nineteen football players who, in moments, stole a precious woman’s respect and dignity. i pray for coach art briles – he is, as well, facing a difficult season.

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season

it has been a very long time. from the bottom of my heart, i apologize, the hiatus was unintentional. but i did not forget, have not forgotten about this space of the internet, this creation of mine.

so many times, i began to type, only to stop mid-word. the timing never seemed right to write. i would feel guilty for ‘wasting time’ when i had so many things to do, or feel too tired to type more than a few sentences, or realize that i had no idea what to write about. so with each excuse, i would tap “save as draft” and click the ‘x’ out.

so much has changed since the last time i was here. it’s insane, the power this blog holds. although, or is it because?, i have not been here in about 10 months, i see my growth. it seems like just yesterday when i was writing the last entry. the emotions i felt, the passion, pain, revelation, of that season hits me when i read. the whispers of God in that moment, i hear and understand loudly and clearly today. it was a season of drawing near to Jesus, desperate that he draw near to me.

i see, now that that particular storm is behind. i see that in the sorrow, the Lord brought forth so much blessing. i believe, now, most firmly that i was blessed richly in that season. and maybe because i am a creature of nostalgia, that i almost miss that season. because even amidst the cries and heartbreak, there was adventure. there was a newness, a period of exploration and rediscovery and enlightenment. i have found myself longing to be in that place again.

my God is a generous god. he is one who hates for me to be looking behind, pushing back in a world moving forward. and he has placed new adventures before me. he calls me away from my daydreams of the past, and reminds me of the future set ahead of me.

he beckons me towards him. enticing me with a promise, a promise of more of him. now, when will i take that step?

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let go, my soul

i’m a bit of a control freak. not in the way that i like to manipulate people into doing what i want them to do, but in the way that i need to know what my life is going to be like. i obsess over goals, i worry about how to fulfill them. i have checklists in every page of my planner, often the same goals written over and over and over again, just to ensure that i don’t forget what i need to do to be successful. monday: 8am/up. 8:30am/finish getting ready. 9-12/class. 12:30/lunch. 1/sapling chapter 4, mastering physics chapter 19. 5/get to CG, do SG prep. 7-9/SG. 9/read chapter 20 physics. lab report. get at least 5 hours of sleep. words on a post-it. repeated 3 times on 3 post-its. stuck on one page of my planner.

all my life, my goals were predictable and calculated to the point that i couldn’t possibly see myself messing up. get a 100 on every spelling quiz, read four books a week. be on the UIL team, make a decent chair in band. be in the top 10%, get a certain score on the SAT. even now, i have goals. make dean’s list, volunteer 4 hours a week, shadow here, get a job there, pay my rent and bills, get accepted to medical school, become a doctor. get married at 25. have two kids. live life. i have endless checklists, endless goals.

i was talking to someone this week, just voicing some personal worries i have had, and how out of control i felt. he said to me, “when you are in control, you stop relying on God. and He knows it.”

at that moment i started looking closely at myself. i saw that it was true. when i knew my plans, i relied on myself. when things went my way, i grew confident in my own abilities. when i succeeded, it was a testament to my own intelligence, my own hard work, my own talent. of course, at the back of my head, i know that the credit isn’t mine. i have always had my parents’ support, my friends always encourage me, and most importantly God blesses me with my being and is the one who has created me… but in those moments of pure exhilaration, who am i giving glory to? God? or myself? i am afraid of the answer. but thinking more and more… i see where i am putting the credit, especially in my failures. when i fail, i crumble. i beat myself up so hard about every mistake, every flaw. i blame myself for everything. why am i being so hard on myself?

i have been so busy trying to control my life. i have taken on the burden of my life. i have been trying to be my own god. my burden is heavy, and my yoke is so hard.

and God, in typical God fashion, has been busy turning my life inside out. everything that i’ve been clinging to that isn’t God, He is uprooting. He beckons for me to return to Him. to seek Him. He knows that only when i’m completely lost, when i’m at loss of what to do, that i turn my face to the ultimate Redeemer. and in that moment, when i turn towards Him, God embraces me with all of His love and comfort and goodness. and reminds me of who He is to me. He is my future. He is my present. He is my past. He has been with me always, He will never forsake me.

i’m processing, still. i’m still trying to comprehend this. i still worry, i still freak out. i still cry a lot, and still have trouble leaving my burdens, stress, worries at the feet of Jesus. i still have been making those stupid checklists. but i feel God breaking in to my heart, one day at a time. i feel Him pressing in to me. and i’m excited at what’s in store. i have to admit, it’s scary, but isn’t that faith?

take me back to the place where my heart was only about you, God.

-j

it’s crazy, isn’t it? that every time you have a revelation with the Lord, and you think you’ve matured so much.. He reveals something completely new to you? or just kind of tells you that you your first revelation isn’t over? you think you’re flooded with all this new experience of who Jesus is… and then you realize you’ve uncovered about 0.000000001% of His character. or at least.. that’s what it feels like to me.

the song in over my head (bethel) has some powerful lyrics. the first time i heard that song, i was captivated by the words. i have come to this place in my life, i’m full but i’m not satisfied… i’m standing knee deep but i’m out where i’ve never been…

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