Sunday, January 26, 2014

keep holding on.

[It’s past 1AM which is late by my standards. I know it’s Saturday night but today’s been lots of running around with shopping in Center City and a laughter-filled birthday party (HAPPY birthday gorgeous T!). I am ready for bed. But…]

In response to a comment by a reader about the recent Penn event, I wanted to jot down some words.

One of my biggest problems is that I shut out feelings. I leave them unexpressed and continue on about dental school like a drone. My therapist suggested I take daily time to acknowledge my feelings and flesh them out. So when I had a big disappointment last Wednesday I let myself feel sad. My friends who tried comforting me probably felt useless because I kept saying, “yes, but I am still sad.” But I appreciate you all. So thank you.

Then a Penn freshman passed away this weekend. I heard about it in lab when a non-Penn friend texted me. My friend was especially upset because we had walked that very block just few weeks ago. I was saddened and said a quick prayer. Then I kept prepping my teeth in that dental school basement without really thinking about it. “I can’t afford to be upset when I’m preparing for a practical exam.” I thought.


When I told another classmate, she had a much bigger reaction. She cried. All the while I went about my week, occasionally the thought of Madison popping into my head but not really. Then I watched the Modern Family episode “Under Pressure” where Alex goes to see a therapist. She doesn’t feel understood. She feels alone. She feels nobody gets her.

I broke down bawling. I am not saying this is what happened to Madison- I didn’t know her- but depression and having suicidal thoughts are lonely, alienating experiences. I expected this plot to turn into a funny twist but it was genuine and heartfelt. And it hit so close to home.

How do I “manage to stay atop of things while handling the workload”? I don’t. That’s the short answer. Sometimes I run out of lab because the walls are closing on me. Sometimes my blood sugar drops so low my hands are shaking as I’m turning the keys to my apartment. I get so anxious that going to school the next morning is an unbearable thought. Sometimes I feel like the fakest person out there. Why the #%2@# do I act so happy when I’m miserable?

With Bri in beautiful Sandy Cove last weekend: She’s my rock and my favorite cheese.sandy cove wknd (640x478)

The better may get worse, the worse may get better. Or maybe the other way around. But you change yourself by building up your resilience. And you change your environment by surrounding yourself with supportive thoughtful people who sympathize, empathize with you. You deserve to provide yourself with that nourishing environment. And reaching out for help isn’t a weakness. If I was willing to give help to others, I must also be willing to receive help. It took me a long time to see that.

Dental school is hard. (Biggest understatement of the century.) If you’ve succeeded at most things this far and expect to do so, think again. Going to dental school at this Ivy League institution has been f@#ing hard for me. Sometimes I gotta let go and “embrace the suck”. But other times, I have got to reach out. I am so grateful to all of you- Yesle of today would not be the same without y’all. I can only try to give out as much love as I receive from you guys out there.

I know this is only a blog and I’m only one person but I’m reachable by email or if you see me around, in person, whatever. I’m here for you. And you have many others who care about you and will love you unconditionally no matter what your GPA/extracurriculars/weight/internships are.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Liz! Last Friday's pictionary made me laugh so hard. Moments like those are like vitamin bursts.

  2. Beautifully written... Very relatable and true!

    1. Thank you Tanya! And I'm glad we chatted in person too. <3

  3. I feel sympathetic to you. Last fall I was going through a similar situation from school. To make things worse my father unexpectedly passed away and everything just collapsed for me.
    Now I am still recovering from this devastating episode. School is going well, but I really needed the support of family and friends to skip going down and keep holding on.

    1. My heart goes out to you. Family and friends can be such strong pillars when we're down. Life still happens when we're in school. I'm glad you are hanging in there.

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