Ignorance is Bliss

As I sit at my desk on this last final beautiful day before med school really gets started, I think it appropriate to make a list of all the things that make me excited or nervous going in to my first full day of lecture. This could very well be my last day of freedom, as one of the MS2’s mentioned in an email to the class today, so I intend to enjoy every last second of it.

– I am excited that I have made so many friends already. Through the last few days of orientation I have met lots of guys that I like and whom (who? whom? I don’t know) I believe will make great friends through school. It’s easy to overlook how much better my day seems knowing that I have people to sit with through lecture and during lunch break, instead of wandering around by myself all day.

-I am excited to begin with material that is somewhat familiar to me. After reworking the curriculum, all MS1’s now begin their first year with Cell Biology and Metabolism. Since I majored in this for four years, I ought to know a thing or two about it. At least that’s the plan, I’ll get back with you in a few weeks and let you know how that went.

-I’m nervous about the volume of material. I think everyone is nervous about this as well, but I’m more nervous about not knowing what is expected. Hand me a big thick book of stuff to learn, and I won’t be as nervous, just because I know what is expected.

– I’m excited to know that I belong in this group of people. There has been some discreet MCAT and GPA sharing among certain people, and I am happy to say that my “stats”, as they are, place me squarely in the middle of pack of people I have talked to about such things. As one of the Deans mentioned last week, “Half of you will fall below the median on the first exam. For most of you, this will be the first time in your life that has happened. Most of you grew up as the smartest kid in your classroom, and that will change here.” I figure that if, in a room of smarties, I fall right about at the average, that’s probably all right. If I beat the average on the first exam, I’m getting lunch at Chick-fil-a that day. (any excuse for CFA)

– I’m excited to learn. I’ve always been kind of a dork, in that I enjoy learning things just for the sake of learning them, and so I have always been excited for each school year to start. This year, however, there are no grades. We either pass or fail. The emphasis now seems set on learning the material together, so hopefully we won’t have as many gunners and tools in the class as some friends of mine report having at their medical schools on a graded curriculum.

-In general, this feels pretty similar to the day before the Ironman. In both instances, I had a huge challenge sitting before me, and all I wanted to do was start. Before the Ironman, I had spent so much time being nervous that I just wanted to start checking things off of my list. Swim? Check. First lap of the bike? Check. In the same way, I have a lot of medical school in front of me. I’m ready to start checking things off that list, so long as I don’t disregard the journey for the destination. One of my least favorite quotes is “Wherever you’re going, that’s where you are” (most typically seen on advertisements and such). If you are going someplace, you are, by definition, not there yet. Be present wherever you are, and you’ll enjoy your destination more when you arrive.

Also before the Ironman I had a hefty dose of ignorance regarding all of the pain I was about to experience, and that ignorance (also the fact that I paid a lot of money to be there) was the reason I waded into the water in the first place. (This analogy kind of falls apart here, because even now that I know exactly how hard an Ironman is, I still fully intend to do another one. Triathletes don’t make any sense…I know). And so I have no clue how many hours of studying and lecture lay ahead (about, 8,250 according to the Deans), or how many exams there will be (45 in two years) or the difficulty of the exams, or any of the stressful things to come, but I’m excited to get started, and I know the journey is going to be worth it. That’s why I’m excited to dive in.

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