on ‘failure’ and detours


Since I was a kid, I always did my best to do the ‘right thing,’ especially when it came to my education. I was never that straight A student but I always worked hard. I felt like I had to work harder than everyone else to be average and it was difficult to feel the imposter syndrome from such a young age but I found ways to push through it, with the support of my incredible parents and some of the most amazing teachers in the world.

In high school, I signed up for classes strategically to ensure a good GPA when I applied to colleges, trying to find the perfect balance between between taking enough IB/AP classes and having the time to do my best in them, while juggling ECs. I chose to go to UC Irvine over more prestigious schools because I was thinking ahead to applying to medical school. I didn’t want to get lost in a sea of overly competitive premed students and not reach my goals. I took my classes on a schedule that allowed me to do my best, not the ‘traditional’ one that most students took because I knew I couldn’t handle that. I took an even lighter load the quarter I was studying for the MCAT. My schedule was ‘nontraditional’ but also ‘traditional’ in that I went straight from undergrad to medical school. I got married that summer in between and, two years ago, started this new life adjusting to being a wife & partner and working towards my professional goals. I paid attention to where I needed extra help and did my best to arrange my schedule so that I could be successful.

But then came medical school, and we were back to our schedules being decided for us like in elementary school and I couldn’t adjust it to make it more manageable. Instead, I had to adjust my study style and do the best I could to set myself up for success. And for the most part I did. Out of the ten blocks that make up our preclinical education, I passed eight of them on my first try and two of them on my second (and knocked them out of the park the second time, if I may add). And I am so very proud of myself for making it through two academically, mentally and emotionally difficult years. Many times I thought about quitting, more often that I’d like to admit. I thought about taking time off to center myself and make a schedule that allowed me to succeed to the best of my abilities. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to ‘fall behind’ or be forced to take a path different than my peers. I often wondered why I couldn’t handle a schedule and plan that the majority of medical students go through. Why wasn’t I strong enough? Why wasn’t I smart enough? Why is it so much harder for me?

And then I failed step one. Part of me saw it coming and another part of me was just wishing for a miracle – ‘please God, just let something work the first time.’ I know I’ve done everything I was technically supposed to do, or at least what works for most people. But it didn’t for me, as it hasn’t for most of my life. And that’s so much more than okay. Because this is my journey and each detour I take helps me become the person I’m meant to be. And I truly believe that, at the end of all this, I’ll be a better physician for it.

I’ve taken a leave of absence from medical school until January. During that time, I will be doing some traveling, reconnecting with the people I love, with God and with myself, taking a class to help me prepare for step one and knocking this test out of the park – on my second try, because sometimes that’s what it takes. 

Thank you for your company on this journey. Thank you to my village that keeps me going – I’d be lost without you. And thank You for all the blessings, especially the ones I’m so privileged to not even be aware of.

8 thoughts on “on ‘failure’ and detours

  1. Thank you for being such a model of perseverance and determination, something that is so much needed in this world today. You can do it! ❤️

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  2. I love how open you are with your journey and can’t thank you enough for being so real with it. Everyone has a different journey, focus on yours, do what you have to to get where you want. It doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Believe in yourself have faith work hard and you’ll get there, inshallah.😘

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    • Really inspiring to hear someone being so open about their journey through med school. I did the same in my 3rd year (UK) choosing to take 6 months off to rebuild and take care of myself following what can best be described as ‘burnout’. I found it so difficult step away from my peers and the expected path but 18 months later I have retaken and passed 3rd year and couldn’t be more happy with my decision. It has taught me so much about perseverance and I returned with renewed energy and strength. Thank you for sharing your story, take care ❤️

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  3. beautiful post ❤ Med school is such a challenge physically and mentally; I completely agree, what works for one person doesnt always work for another, we just have to what works best for us. Best of luck ❤

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  4. Ik I’m a little late since this post was last year. I just want to say I love the honesty and openness. Setbacks only serve to make you a stronger more resilient person and are opportunities for growth. Things will work out. Best of luck! 🙂

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