A Black Female Medical Student

Archive for September 2011

Everything here is so competitive.

I guess I’ve been in a really competitive environment for a long time, but I don’t think its affected me as much until now. Maybe its because I didn’t really feel like I was competitive until now? Or maybe I was afraid of trying to compete and failing. Ugh… that’s disappointing. What an average mindset.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been obsessed with Wale. Yeah, yeah I know. I hopped on the bandwagon late, especially considering we’re from the same part of the world, but in my defense… I haven’t lived in The Area full-time since I was 16 yrs old. Anyway, he’s just been coming out with some good ish lately. I watched a couple of videos on his vlog, and something he said struck me. I can’t really remember the exact quote, but it had something to do with how now he’s finally putting it all out there, believing in his talent, giving it his all, and opening himself up for rejection.

I was sitting there watching just thinking, Wow. That must have been really scary.

My whole life, I’ve kinda hidden behind something. In high school it was my tomboy image and a bunch of baggy clothes. In college, it was my glasses and my whole persona as the nerdy bio major. In med school, there was no consistent theme lol, I just always found a reason not to shine, and ‘”be all out there”.

Part of me was because I was afraid that I would fail and be absolutely horrible at whatever it was that I tried, so its better to just put a half-ass effort so at least you can always tell yourself you could have done better…

But another part of it is because part of me has always felt that I was different, more unique, that there was something about me that distinguishes me from everyone else, and I think, at the root of it, I was kind of afraid of stepping out on my own, being different, and not fitting in.

Its scary to go out and take a risk and just do your own thing, to go without the comfort and security of the rest of the crowd. Like that saying goes, from what I’ve heard, “its lonely at the top. I mean , yeah the top sounds great, but who wants to be lonely?

Since I’ve moved here, I’ve made a few friends, have been able to go out and do some thinga, but I’ve also spent a lot of time by myself. Alone.

Before I go on, I should say that I’m terrified of being alone. I grew up with 3 siblings, never had a room to myself. I alwas had someone to talk to, someone to fight with, someone to laugh with, someone to love, someone to hold a grudge against, you know?  So its been different, being out here on my own. But even though I’m on my own, I haven’t necessarily been lonely. I’ve gotten much better acquainted with myself, and I like myself more than I thought I would.. I’ve actually been really peaceful and happy.

I’ve also had to come face to face with some serious flaws that I’ve had. And being that I’m all alone and its just me and me (lol), I can’t help but face them. And I’m forcing myself to address them. In a real way.

So it hasn’t been all that bad.

🙂

So I have this BIG paper due next month. I know, it seems really far away, but I just have this feeling like my life is about to get crazy. Like this is the calm before the storm. So I want to try to get started on it early.

But either way I think I found my topic. Yay! **does the cabbage patch and then tries to do the Worm**

I’m a little bit excited. I’m going to try to get a publication out of it. Or at least some sort of presentation. I did a preliminary search of the literature and there is not **THAT** much stuff on it out there. I’m going to have to do the search on the school server tomorrow b/c I don’t have access to as many journals from home and I haven’t filled out the proxy stuff yet.

But I saw some interesting stuff. I’m really interested in translating research into policy, and I found some interesting stuff that I hasn’t been explored too much just yet. I do have to try to figure out what area of the country to focus my efforts on… I’m thinking maybe Boston, because I did see some policy proposals from some people out here and the stuff they’re talking about it is pretty much along the same lines that I’m thinking. I have a connect at the public health dept over here so I’m going to follow up on that. But I need to do some background reading first. I think I will prob try to finish the lit review by next week this time. I would have liked to do it this weekend, but I have way too many obligations this weekend. So next week it is. BTW I think I’m going to have a really fun weekend. I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

Also, I think I’m going to end up in EM. I was really thinking OB/GYN, but I don’t think I need to be in the OR to be happy, but I do need adequate amounts of sleep and a vibrant and varied life and career outside the hospital to be happy. EM is also just a much more diverse and flexible field. If I get tired of the stuff I’m into now, I could always just reinvent myself as something else you know. I am a little concerned about the shift work, I’m not pleased with the idea of working nights and having little control over my schedule but I think the idea of having obscenely early mornings for the rest of my life bothers me more. I am not a morning person at all. Like there are few things that I hate more in life than waking myself up at 4am. So why was I considering OB/GYN again…? Well, to be honest, its just such an awesome field. Its the first field I could really visualize myself practicing in. And I think I have a strong aptitude for it. I had so many young cool doctors as my attendings. And I just love women. I love working with them and helping them with their problems, and helping them feel better! And I love babies! See… its such a hard decision…..

With EM, I thinking that I may end up going into Peds EM, even though its a paycut, since I luh the kids and all… but we’ll see. I really hope I’m blessed enough to marry a rich hubby so I don’t have to worry about money at all.

Wouldn’t that be nice…..

Okay. Its late. I’m going to bed. God bless

So I have the tendency to be really hard on myself. I mean, I really beat myself up. My ex-bf would laugh at me because my standards for myself were extremely high, and when I would not meet them, I would really rag on myself. He thought it was so ridiculous.

But that’s my reality. I run in highly accomplished, very competitive circles. Which is great, because you are continually challenged to do better and to be better. But on the other hand you’re constantly comparing yourself to the next person, and if you’re competitive, you will always be trying to outperform the next person.

It gets tiring.

I’m trying to get out of that mindset, and just give myself a break. Not necessarily to rest on my laurels, but just ease up on myself a bit. I mean, you need to see me when I embark on a new project. I’m quite focused, very intense. Nobody ever sees, cuz I usually hole myself up in a corner to keep from being distracted, but yo…. there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into my work. And then when its done, I kinda get up, rearrange my skirt and present my smiling face to the world… and go back to my normal, ultra laid-back, fun-loving self.

Speaking of this “face to the world”….

I am the biggest fraud I know. People really think I have my ish together. Its not like I try to put forth this false facade, but seriously no one could ever know exactly how scatter-brained and eff’d up I am behind closed doors. They would be frightened. So I keep it to myself. But sometimes, I get a glimpse of how people see me, and I cringe. Cuz I feel like a fraud. Like when I get a coffee and ask for no-whip iced caramel latte with a fruit cup, and I see the plus-size girl who just ordered the grande-mocha frappe with a big chocolate brownie glance over quickly and look down at her drink self-consciously, I cringe. Cuz I know what she’s thinking, look at this skinny girl with perfect skin and perfect shape, she probably eats right and exercises, she probably has great self-control and discipline… that’s why she’s so thin…but… I don’t. I just ate 7 wings and basket of french fries by myself. I have been putting off starting an exercise regimen for over 2 yrs now. The only reason I order my coffee with no whip is b/c I hate the texture of whipped cream. And I didn’t get brownie because I was afraid of making a mess of myself and getting dark brown stuff caught in my teeth. I love brownies, but I’m the messiest eater I know. I’m always getting stuff on my shirt and on my face. And the only reason why I’m skinny is cuz when I’m stressed out, I forget to eat. And I’m almost always stressed out. So I forget to eat all the time. Seriously. You know how people gain 15lbs when they start college? I lost 15lbs. Go figure.

But people see me as the gorgeous girl with the enviable figure, who has the nerve to have gorgeous skin and a great bone structure on top of that, with her Ivy-league educated self, with a medical degree from one of the most prestigious schools in the country, no actually… the world, haha…  decent closet full of clothes, makeup always done and well applied (and its drugstore makeup, never brand name), a cute, quirky sense of humor, cute boyfriend, always somewhere having fun on the weekend, bright future…. I’ve had several people tell me that they see me as the future [insert whatever  honor/accolade/prestigious position here]. Old white people always want to take me under their wing. And I want to just yell at them, do you even know what you’re talking about? How do you not see who I am? Have you seen my bedroom? Do you know what a mess it is? Do you know the last time I did laundry? The last time I cooked a real meal? Do you know how much I struggled through medical school? Through undergrad? Do you know how much public speaking freaks me out? Do you know how much I sweat during interviews? Do you know how much I doubt myself? Do you know how many times I’ve screwed up? Do you know how many times I’ve almost screwed up and would have had one of my friends not come through for me and helped me? Do you know how much help I need? Have you seen my love life? Do you know why I can get any guy except for the one I want? Do you know why I always have something to say except for when I NEED to have something interesting/intelligent/witty/thoughtful/insightful to say? Do you know how many nervous breakdowns I’ve had this year? Do you know that nobody knows this…. not even my parents? Not even my best friends?

I’m only writing this because I have a lot of people look at me and tell me they look up to me, and I want to tell them “Child if only you knew… you don’t even know the half.” Its embarrassing.

So whoever she is. That girl who everyone thinks has it all together, that everyone looks up to, that everyone thinks is so great and so perfect, and so ___________. I’m just going to let you know right now, you don’t even know the half. She’s probably not nearly as screwed up as I am…. there’s no way. But there’s probably a lot more going on than you think.

The only reason I could even think to post this, is because I’ve been on the other side. I lived my life on the other side. I was awkward, shy, no style, bad hair, dorky sense of humor… and then I don’t know what happened. Got through puberty, made it out of high school, grew some boobs, got a summer job and some better clothes, discovered EtOh, got  a little bit of confidence, and just blossomed I guess. Whatever happened, its like I’m in a different world now. Its like I took the red pill and could see the matrix for the first time. And once you do it, you can never go back.

Sometimes I want to go back. It might be better if I never knew. Its okay to not measure up if you don’t know that you don’t measure up, to not have to live with all the pressure. Its not so bad to live your life in a bubble… as long as its a nice, secure, well-ventilated bubble of your own design and making, what’s the problem? Why not just be happy?

Sigh… I dunno. I’m rambling. Its late. I have class in the AM and homework that I need to start tonight. Then I have studying that I literally put off all day and all weekend. Ugh.

Its like Deja Vu…..

think I wrote a similar “Not in Kansas Anymore” post when I first moved to Chicago.

I was making the move from the HBCU environment to the elite private university environment and feeling the effects.

Now I’m making the change from the elite private university environment to here, and I’m feeling it again too. I thought I knew how to handle this already. Sigh.

So today I went to BBQ being hosted by one of the students at the business school. It was a pig roast. Where they get a pig from a farm or someplace, kill it, put it in a roasting box and roast it. Never been to one before, I think its something that rich white folk with a lot of time on their hands do. I have pics…. I may post them, I may not. The way this yr is starting off, I think this blog needs to stay private. I feel like I will be doing a lot of venting on here.

Anyways, at this pig roast, I was the only black person for about 2 hrs. I felt very conspicuous. I don’t feel like these people really hung out with a lot of black people (well I guess that’s obvious) and I definitely felt like I had to consciously try to make myself come off as relatable to them. It was weird.

Anyway, a black dude showed up, he went to the business school too. I was introduced to him, everyone exchanged pleasantries, and then I continued to mix and mingle. Awhile later, I ended up mixing and mingling my way over to a conversation and that the Black Dude happened to be partaking him. He had a friend with him this time, we’ll call him White Dude. And White Dude asked me how I knew Black Dude or how long we’d know each other or something. I said I didn’t really know him at all. Just met him today. Awkward laugh.

White Dude starts trying to talk up Black Dude. Saying he’s such a great guy, really smart, totally awesome, etc. Like he was trying to wing for him or something, except it was painfully obvious. Get Black Dude and the Black Chick together. Like Barack and Michelle. Heathcliff and Claire. Will and Jada. I think White People love and support Black Love just as much as we do. Black Dude looked so uncomfortable. Mumbles something incoherent and  makes himself scarce.

I mean, I guess the situation wasn’t THAT awkward, but Black Dude looked like he’s down with the swirl. He just gave off that vibe if it makes any sense. Honestly, I think it bothered him that his friend pretty much assumed he was tryna get at me. I dunno why though… I’m really cute. 😉

Anyway that was that. I made some friends, but I feel like B-school students are just draining to be around. Kind of like law students. They’re really stuck on themselves.

So that was that.

Last night I went to this rockin’ party. I would have had a blast if I was dressed appropriately. Speaking of such. Boston has some gorgeous black chicks. And some really hot black guys. I’m going to have to step my game up if I want any play.

Okay, I’m done. Going to bed. It’s late. G’nite.

 

This is going to be a long year. A loooooooong year. 😦

I finally made it to school, but I’m sort of a nomad b/c my lease doesn’t start til tomorrow and my parents won’t arrive with my car/apt trinklets until the day after tomorrow. Until then I’m crashing on my friends couch… really appreciating the hospitality.

So on a whim I went and bought these HUGE black plastic-rimmed glasses. I figure that if I’m going to do that grad school thing, I might as well do it right. Nerdy swag in full effect nahm sayin? Except there are few issues.

First, my prescription got worse, so my lenses are thick as a mug.

Second, these things keep sliding down my nose! I’m about to break open the contacts again, but I look so smart with these joints. I mean people come up and ask me if I’m a doctor now. Usually I get mistaken for a nurse.

I went to school today. Our building is so gorgeous. Really pretty. Its pretty big too, and they have this really nice computer lab. And there’s this pretty courtyard. And there’s a whole bevy of nice restaurants in close vicinity. I’m a sucker for nice facilities lol.

Speaking of school. I’m so conflicted now. I can’t pick a major. I am so terrible with decisions…. I usually just avoid making them the best that I can. Also I’m a really laid-back, go with the flow sort of person, and that approach to life has worked to me.

HOWEVER, its like all of a sudden I’m being faced with these huge decisions… one being what specialty I’m going to choose (OBGYN vs. EMERGENCY MEDICINE… what to do what to do) but thankfully, I don’t have to pick that until next year. But I do have to figure out which major I’m going to choose for my MPH program.

Here’s the thing. I’m all about solving health disparities. My current department is the most health disparities oriented in the hospital. If I stay here,  I can get a little bit of research and a little bit of policy, which is what I like. I see myself in a future of policy analysis and development, but I want to be able to design my own studies and run my own stats, or some very elementary ones at least.

There are two other departments that I’m interested in: Policy/Mgmt or Biostatistics/Epi. I’m rethinking Policy, from what I heard, the Policy program here isn’t very health disparities oriented. I’m not interested in money-making, or in revamping entire health systems per se, I just want to come up with health plans that work for poorer populations… or at least ones that work better than the one’s we have. I just don’t see myself ending up in the private sector, and I feel like my school pretty much funnels the Policy grads into there. Though I could make tons of money, especially with this new degree under my belt, I don’t think I’ll be happy. I don’t really see myself in the public sector so much either, because if I focus on health disparities, I will be focusing on a very select portion of the population, a minority population, with little political clout.

Biostats/Epi. I would be confining myself to academia. While the concentration would be more transferrable to Policy than vice versa, I could see myself getting caught up in the academic rigmarole, with that whole publish publish publish mindset. Sometimes I read some of the stuff people publish and I’m just like really. Come really. Also I feel like a lot of the research in health disparities has been done… we know the exist for sure. So what do we do about it. But the opportunity to be HERE and learn from literally, the best in the field in Biostats/Epi. Its a hard opportunity to walk away from.

So what I decided to do was stick to my concentration. Health disparities is important to me. I’m going to be pretty heavy on the Epi classes this summer actually, I would really like to sign up for this class on Research Methods in Behavioral Health, but I’m definitely concerned b/c it directly contradicts with an Economic Analysis course, which I REALLY want to take.

Right now, I’m signed up for the slightly easier Biostats class, the comprehensive Epi class, followed up by the 2nd level Epi class, which would permit me to take Epi classes next semester, also taking the Econ Analysis, I would like to take another Research oriented course– but there’s some scheduling issues…  lastly I have a compulsory practice course later in the fall, and a leadership class that I’m really excited about.

All in all, that’s 22.5 credits means I have 20 more credits until they start charging me extra.. I”m taking a lot of my core classes now, so it will be mostly electives next semester….. I think I’ll be okay.