What one year of college taught me

MBBS.

It’s funny how 4 small letters and 5 long years can change your life forever.

Exactly an year ago, on 1st August, 2016, was my first day of College at LTMMC, widely touted as one of the best Medical Colleges in the country, second best in the State (soon to be best, watch out KEM). As was apparent from the many, many Facebook updates and newspaper articles and eager distribution of overloaded-with-ghee sweets, people around me were ecstatic and thrilled and nervous, everything that one should be on the first day of College. I, on the other hand, was wondering how on earth I ended up in Med School. I actually still do…

“They say when you’re thrown headfirst into the ocean, your vision blackens. You hear the deafening silence. You smell the rabid fear. You taste the eroding salt. And you feel the numbing cold. All five of your senses are assaulted. You could try swimming, but how do you know which way is the surface, a chance of survival, and which way the deep, dark bottom, a certain death?”

And that’s how I spent the first and every other day from there on out, trying to figure out which way was up, and which was down.

So I watched as I transformed from a competent, confident individual to a helpless, quivering, neurotic mass. I watched as MBBS dissected me more meticulously than Cunningham, as it broke me down to the Biomolecules that fill the pages of Satyanarayan. As I didn’t need Guyton anymore, to understand the Physiology of Pain.

(Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get my point)

But hey, we can only see the organs and learn their orientation, relations and blood supply after we ruthlessly slice open the cadaver, isn’t it?

And so I learnt.

I learnt that:

  • Failure’s Good : ‘Failure is the stepping stone to success’ blah blah blah – we’ve all heard it since kindergarten. But for a bunch of over-achievers, who’ve seen nothing but successes, it’s nothing more than a childhood adage that you say to sound less conceited. Quite frankly, I never believed it. Success was success and failure was failure, both poles apart. After all, I always scored above 90, what did I know about failure anyway? But for the first time in my life, I actually feared that I’d not be able to pass, for the first time, I felt so…incompetent. And it broke me. But it also built me back, this time stronger. See, success is a great feeling but it tends not to be an experience that you learn from. But failure? Oh, failure is like that nasty, scowling school teacher whom no one likes but ultimately who teaches you the most. The one who brings the widest smile to your face as you collect your degree on stage.
  • Don’t Listen To Other’s Crap : You’ll study more than you ever did, they said. Hah. Sure, the portion’s ginormous and one does have to spend significant hours digesting it. But I’ve noticed that we end up spending more time glaring at our books like a plate of tinda rather than actually opening them and devouring their contents. Med students are sleep deprived, they said. Hah. I have literally seen people snoring on the first bench. Med Students are nerds, they said. Hah. I’m just gonna say Biology has a lot of scope for dirty jokes. Let’s leave it at that.

My point is, MBBS or for that matter any course on the face of this planet, is not a rigidly pre-defined road set in stone by others.

“Make it your own meandering pathway, set with cobblestones or wonky twists and turns or sprinkled with rose petals. (Or poisonous thorns. It’s your wish.)”

  • Be Shameless :

We empty faeces from the rectum, we discuss testes and ovaries like they’re the weather forecast. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I know some of you are judging me, critiquing me, even mocking me right now maybe. But it’s okay.

Actually it’s not, screw you. If there’s one thing general depression and crippling anxiety has taught me, it’s that unnecessary hesitation, indecision and shame belong in the garbage.

(Along with your opinion btw)

  • There’s More To Life Than Just Studying :

Studying’s good. Studying’s great. But it can not be the focal point of your lens, the hinge of your lever, the Trump of your roast.

Yes, thank you LTMMC, for showing me that ‘success’ does not just translate to gold medals and Certificates of Academic Excellence. Thank you for showing me enthusiastic trekkers and badass dancers and soulful singers and melancholic writers. Thank you for making me realize what a uni-dimensional and linear life I had been leading.

So I finally, finally realized that you’re more than a sheet with a statement of marks. You’re much, much more – you’re a great old book, leather bound and ponderous, ink staining each new page as the next day dawns.

  • Life Doesn’t Care About Your Expectations :

You may desperately want and expect to have ‘the best 4 (actually 5.5) years of your life’ in College. You’d have a fabulous squad that sings merry tunes and takes beach trips and makes pretentious birthday collages and has fun ‘study sessions’ together. You’d have some magical love story with an Edward Cullen-esque hunk (Yes, this Twilight reference was deliberate, sue me). You’d be the Student Council President and apple of the teachers’ eyes and general crowd-favourite. You would have ‘a beautiful journey of self-discovery’ and be ready to conquer the world as you rode off into the sunset together with your gang, throwing your graduation caps into the air.

.

.

.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Lulz.

And it’s okay.

“Life may not always meet your expectations but someway, somehow it’ll make sure you get whatever it is that you deserve. And desire.”

  • But Life Goes On :

The Universe doesn’t care if you’ve failed your Terminals or given a humiliating Viva that made you question your very existence. The earth will not stop revolving and the sun will not stop shining and the entropy will not stop increasing just because you didn’t know the nerve supply of Deltoid.

The Universe is pretty chill about your problems. Maybe you should be too.

This year has made me wonder how high I was when I filled out the application for the All India Pre-Medical Test. (I’m a CET student but thoda creative liberty chalta hai)

I’ve often felt like quitting and probably would’ve if I hadn’t filled a bond for 10 lakhs. (Yes thank you, Maharashtra Government).

But thing is, I haven’t. And not because of the money or the parental pressure or the ‘Log Kya Kahenge Syndrome’.

It’s because while my heart felt the worst that it ever has, my brain learnt the most that it ever did.

(Also it’s fun to cut people up with scalpels)

So. I learnt that to swim to the top I don’t need a motorized boat or scuba gear or a life-jacket even. I can kick my way to the surface, as my lungs burn and limbs ache. And as my head finally breaks free, I can gulp in large amounts of air, snatching the glorious oxygen, rightfully mine, that I was coldly deprived of.

And I can do it all on my own…

MBBS.

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

“It taught me that to know Surgery, to know how to stitch people up, you first have to know how to cut them open.

It taught me that to know Medicine, you first have to know Disease.

And perhaps, to know how to heal, you first have to know pain.”

– Nidhi Lanka

LTMMC

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