I recently realized something: people only like to discuss the seasons when they’re winning… the seasons when they’re truly “flexing.” We see it all over social media today. People forcing themselves to appear a certain way in order to appease society’s standards. It’s a pandemic, really. A tragedy that’s affecting billions of people’s self esteem across the globe, all because we’re constantly focused on feeling like we can’t discuss our flaws; like we can’t announce our lows. I, for example, used to be so pressed with what people thought. I cared so deeply about others’ perception of me, that I had no idea what my own perception of self was. It took years of self care, self love, and most importantly, self awareness before I came to truly love myself. Not only for my good parts, but for the imperfect ones as well. Once I learned myself, I noticed something: nobody truly CARES about what you do with your life. They might gossip, they might laugh, they might even go out of their way to bring you down, but the only person who’s in charge of creating your future, is ultimately YOU.
I was shocked when I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder in 2018. There was something surreal about the idea that I had a chronic condition… especially one that I had no control over. It took so long to admit that I needed medication, but when I did, my doctors were incredibly proud of the progress that I had made. I’ve learned a lot along my ride with Schizophrenia. But perhaps the most monumental experience was hearing so many of my doctors tell me that I had immense potential to become a great doctor; that I had all it took to be a remarkable physician. The doctors recognized the positive effect(s) that medication had on me. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all sweet and dandy initially. It took a long and exhaustive time to find the proper medication for me; and an even longer time for me to trust my doctors and nurses. Three years. That’s how long it took after my diagnosis to admit that I needed help. But you know what? Those years gave me so much precious time to reflect on who I wanted to be, and why I wanted to become it. For that reason alone, I have no regrets.
My mother died of a brain tumor when I was 10 years old, and it crushed my world. For the longest time ever, as a child, I told myself that I wanted to become a “brain doctor”, just so that I can help others with my mother’s condition. There was only one thing I was certain of growing up: that I NEVER wanted anyone to experience the same pain and agony that I did when my mother died. I always knew I wanted to become a doctor as a result of this, but at the age of 16, after receiving an award for future doctors and physicians, I developed major imposter syndrome… and I subtly started to believe that I was inept in the sciences. Because if this, I chose to pursue a career in journalism. And even though I was successful at it, including receiving major accolades from my university such as the “Dare to Be First” award for being the first Black woman to start a talk show on the university’s television network, I always felt like something was missing. In fact, right before I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder, I had a major meltdown because I just felt like I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing.
What’s interesting, however, is the fact that The Universe never lies. During my first go at undergrad, I had constant anxiety about what I wanted to do with my life. I ran a successful talk show and was involved in virtually every organization on campus, yet NOTHING ever felt like enough. I remember calling my step mother one day and asking her if it was too late for me to switch to pre-med. She said yes. Since I was only 16 in college, I took her advice as wisdom and decided to stick to journalism. It was until I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder and spent three years in mental institutions that I decided I would put my fears aside and pursue medicine. The road here wasn’t easy, however. Before coming back to school, I was homeless. addicted to thrill (a symptom of Schizoaffective disorder), and just straight up lost in the sauce. But ever since I affirmatively made the decision to pursue serving others through medicine, my life has been exciting, gleeful, and filled with curiosity. The sciences that I was once so afraid of, have now become a source of refuge for me. I take pride in studying Neuroscience, not just because the brain is fascinating, but because I get to learn about the very disease that killed my mother (Glioblastoma – a type of brain cancer), and a disease that changed the trajectory of my life forever (Schizophrenia). I’m forever grateful for my experiences. Sure, they broke me apart while I was going through these tragedies, but they’ve also shaped me into a stronger and wiser version of myself. For this alone, I’m grateful.
Choosing to decide medicine wasn’t to impress anyone. Besides, my mother is dead and my father is estranged from me. There’s no parental pressure at all to become a doctor, which I’m happy about. Choosing to decide medicine was also not about money. Yes, I want a better life for myself, especially after losing everything at some point in my life. But while there’s nothing wrong with wanting better for yourself, it’s also important to be real and know that money doesn’t solve all your problems, in fact, it amplifies them. Wanting better for myself is what has led me to decide that I will pursue a career in medicine. But don’t get it twisted, money comes secondary to other motivations such as assisting others through a really rough time in their lives, and bridging the knowledge gap that exists between women, and especially black women, and science. I want to be a role model to a young scientist one day. I want someone to look at me and think, “If she could do it, so can I!” And it is for this reason that I’ve decided to dedicated my life to this field, one way or another.
One thing that I’ve learned is that it’s vital to check in with your child self. We all have one. For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be. Just because you’ve grown up a little, doesn’t mean you should give up on the dreams you had as a child. I think it’s incredibly important to check in with yourself; to be real with who you are, who you were, but most importantly, who you always wanted to be. There’s nothing more fulfilling than saying you’re living out your childhood dreams. And while it’s not an easy journey, it surely is worth it. I believe that we all have the potential to win. However, I’m realistic enough to know that certain people are just cut from a different cloth. With this knowledge, it’s easy for me to set attainable goals for myself, because I shoot for the stars 🌟 , and aim for the moon 🌙. I encourage you to think of yourself as a god. You know why? Because you’re boundless. Everything you dream of is within your reach, there is a reason you were granted that vision in the first place. So, with that said, those are some of the reasons why your girl has decided to go to medical school. It’s a life altering decision, and I hope you’ll support me with positive thoughts and gentle prayers along the way. I love you so much, Royalty Gang. Thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable with you.
With much love and appreciation,
Soon to be, Mahiga, M.D.
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