Anymore, it’s hard to write.
It’s been hard to write for months. A lot of that was masked by my time in Asia, but really I didn’t want to write while I was there either. It’s strange to be surprised by yourself over something like this. I have always felt that writing was something that I had to do, but this isn’t the case.
I don’t have to write.
I’ve been thinking about everything that changed. So much of my writing before was driven. No one to have met me these last two years could help but concede that I was driven. Driven by fear of failure, by a desire to prove all the invisible people that thought I was less for being from the Caribbean that they were wrong, driven by competition with my classmates, driven to surprise everyone.
I’ve always taken a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction from RWT. The success of this space (as such a thing can be measured by the hit counter or your thoughtful comments) was always a source of pride. It’s nice to have an audience, especially when you’re convinced that you’re being ignored or dismissed. I’m not claiming that any of this was reasonable, but it was all felt just the same. But this space took a sharp turn in my mind in June and that change was really alarming. It’s part of why I’m stopping, but not the whole of it.
I saw RWT as a liability. I had never been as careful as I should have been with my anonymity, and several people have figured me out (especially those from my new Drexel class). I made it pretty easy, and this was foolish. RWT used to be a place where I pretended to be a writer. I tried to be funny, or shallow, or helpful, but recently I’ve needed this to be a space to vent and be laid bare. As I met with the hospitals in New York, I became incredibly disoriented and upset and I needed a place to scream at the top of my keys.
And then I thought of the people reading this. I thought about the admissions committees of different schools coming to this place and finding a student with light and dark sides, and I imagined them seeing this and rushing to judgment. We all, I think, would prefer to imagine each other as shiny happy shells and to show the rest is to risk the rest. As the days fell from the calendar without word from any of the schools to which I applied, I become more and more convinced that this was happening. True or imagined, the risk was real and I had previously ignored it.
I was stupid to do this.
And yes, I had the stupid argument with myself about “censorship” vs “honesty.” As regulars know, I deleted everything on this blog that was negative. Old posts, new posts, anything that could be seen as criticizing the medical establishment. I decided that transferring was more important to me than all the rest. After all of it, I was still being driven.
So my goal of transferring and keeping best faces forward (I’m a Janus, after all) meant that RWT was becoming less a journal and more a resume. Keeping something that sterile (at least for me) means writing very little worth reading. All of this worry was immediately followed with fantastic news. My worst fears were not realized; I was accepted into Drexel.
What happens to someone that gets what they want? For me, things fall apart. I don’t feel like celebrating (and didn’t when I was accepted). I was happy for the news and shared it with everyone that had been working on an ulcer with me (parents, mostly) but these things are never the way they play on television. The celebration is in the act, not the aftermath. Executing the interview successfully was a celebration. Submitting my application materials and coordinating my recommendations was a celebration. Studying for the USMLE and sitting for the exam was the celebration; the score was just the memento.
RWT has been my celebration of these last two years in the Caribbean and what I went through to get into a US medical school. I’ve gotten my wish and as a result I’m being redefined. My previous hurdles were my previous identity, and anymore I don’t feel like myself. Now I’m just a US medical student about to enter third year and there’s this huge part of me that wants to quit everything and just focus on being a great student. No more research, no more writing, no more side projects and whatnot. I want to lose myself and have a simpler life.
It won’t hold. I’ll find new challenges, find new roles and projects. Soon enough, I’ll have this new identity driven by new hurdles and I’ll want to write again. But if I start again, there’s no sense in repeating old mistakes. Choosing to continue RWT would be the first such mistake. The stakes are only going to get bigger and they drag the risk along with them.
I’ve also become complacent. Originally, I wanted to write and I’ve fallen incredibly short of this. I’ve done a good job of setting the levels academically and straining to clear them, and in this way I’ve accomplished more than I really thought I could have. But in writing, I’m so often running on autopilot. I can think of only one time where I ever challenged myself, and that was with The Old Man. I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and it kills me that it sits alone in my “creative writing” file. If I plan on chasing the dream of writing something worth reading some day, I’ve got to become unstuck from easy ruts.
Loss of anonymity, loss of drive, a sense that it’s time to start over and to break some bad habits. These are my reasons for ending this chapter in my life.
Finishing the Guide to Transferring and telling you a little bit about Asia are going to be my encores. It should be good, so stick around.
Thanks for celebrating this with me, topher.