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  • knee deep

    Aug 07th • Posted in academia, health, personal, writing

    Here’s where I am in terms of this summer: Knee deep in Physics and denial.

    To be frank, I’ve got myself in a bit of a pickle with an intensive summer course (again,) but I’m fighting my way through it with a lot of hard work and a lot of self-love and self-care (and unfortunately, impulsive purchases. Sorry, mom.) The anxiety from my ADHD hasn’t come out full force simply because I find myself knee deep in studying and homework, as well as denial– of my own skills and hard work (thanks, imposter syndrome,) of the impending future in regards to med school applications and studying for the MCAT, and of trying to reconcile my mental illness(es), who I am and where I belong (and even if I belong) in the field of medicine. These things are all difficult to deal with, especially because they all contribute to my hopeful future career. I’m just going to lay it all out in blog freeform because I feel like being honest with myself. Otherwise, I’m going to update you on life, and this is going to be a long ass post with no real structure. So, apologies for the word vomit in advance, but if it comes across as too adjglajgwe, I can always delete this later.

    One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered as a post-bacc student is the imposter syndrome, though I’m not even sure if it really is that. All things considered, I know that my future application won’t be as strong as others. I’m trying to come to terms with that, but it’s proven difficult because I keep doubting my own capabilities. I don’t like to compare myself to others, but it’s hard (even in a collaborative program) because competition is a real thing, and medical school applications really depend on survival of the fittest (of mind and health, I suppose.) I have my own reasons for switching career paths, and I’ve discussed them on this blog before. It eternally frustrates me because I may not be the best in the more quantitative subjects (admittedly, I probably shouldn’t have walked out of my Freshman Calculus I final by throwing my textbook in the trash yelling ‘Fuck this!’ but hindsight is 20/20, right?) but damn, I work my hardest and I try my best to get shit done. I haven’t received any grades lower than a B in any of my post-baccalaureate classes, and even with my mental health issues, I’ve done my best and tried my hardest.

    On that note, being so public about living with mental illness is difficult. I am aware of the stigma and I am just saddened that despite the law protecting me against discrimination, I will always carry this strange label on me that marks me a liability. I’ve had many people remark that I am brave for voluntarily disclosing my disabilities publically, and admonished for doing the same thing. The academic school setting is a little better than the job field in terms of disability protections– I have the right (and I definitely exercise it) to ask for accommodations that will put me on a level playing field with my peers. But the real world isn’t always like that, and I’ve read many articles and received advice to not voluntarily disclose my status as a person with disabilities in job applications– including later on in my medical career when I will (hopefully) apply for residency. All at once, I am frustrated with my mental illness and the stigma surrounding it because I don’t want to be labelled negatively, but I don’t want to constantly put myself at a disadvantage by not advocating for myself and fighting for an equal playing field. It’s disheartening to think about having to keep defining myself in applications solely due to the mistakes that I made because I didn’t take care of myself, or defining myself based off my mental disabilities, because while they are part of me– they are not what makes me the person I am. I’m still struggling with how to disclose my ADHD in future job applications for my glide year (because yes, when you tell someone you have ADHD, it is very apparent that this comes with the lack of executive functioning skills which are 90% of jobs in the clinical research field require. Organizational skills aren’t always my strong suit, despite how hard I try,) but I’ve already “gone public” with it on my blog, and I have a well-documented history of my disabilities through academia– so I’m definitely going to address it in my medical school applications.

    So, anyway- this summer hasn’t been awful or too difficult in any way… it’s just gone by way too fast. The second semester of Physics is more rewarding, intuitive and fun than the first semester. I can understand why a lot of my classmates did better during this summer, despite the material being a little more difficult. Attending classes at a different institution is strange. I like it, but I definitely know night classes are not my thing, and some of my classmates are a little more competitive than the ones I have at my formal post-bacc program. This isn’t a bad thing, but over the past two years, I’ve learned that comparing myself to others makes me go down a self-shame and anxious spiral, so I try not to do it so much anymore. It’s difficult though because ALL people want to talk about is the status of their medical school applications and boast about their MCAT score. I am super proud of my peers for doing well, but I definitely don’t want to hear about it, especially because I’m constantly getting in my own head and am currently in a state of denial when it comes to studying for my own MCAT smile It’s nothing personal, I’m glad that you’re doing well and your application is strong, but I’ve also had some of these classmates talk down to me once I disclose the fact that I’m studying for my MCAT, act judgmental about my learning timeline, or find out about my disability. Writing this now makes me extremely frustrated because I’ve received comments over the years about extended time testing for ADHD that receiving extended time is unfair to those who don’t have it. Y’all… I can’t even continue with this argument because some neurotypicals don’t get it.

    If I keep writing, I’m going to write myself into a rage, so I’ll just stop here. I’m still learning how to cope with my ADHD, and reconcile my imposter syndrome. I booked a last-minute vacation to San Diego with my boyfriend as a treat to myself before I resume my “post-bacc year off” (yes, I’m returning  for a third year as an Organic Chemistry teaching assistant– thanks to my professor for being so chill and believing in me.) Hopefully, I’ll return that week refreshed and feeling better about the state of my life. Or, you know, I’ll cry myself to sleep as I start studying for the MCAT. Either way, I’m one step closer to achieving my goals.

    Yeah, okay. I really need to sleep now.