I am no longer a medical student! Wait, that came out wrong. Being a medic is a lifetime commitment to being a medical student. It also has the potential to be a life sentence for an unfortunate some.
What I mean to say is this- I am no longer in medical school. That is because I finally graduated! Yes, I did. First, there was the formal school ceremony. Then came the more colourful one. It was held at the ‘grass-roots’, with friends and the extended family in attendance. There was song and dance, plenty of rice, some spare goat ribs and some gifts in form of money (which I was told is fare for the much dreaded job searching activity popularly christened as tarmacking.)
Thankfully, I haven’t needed to tarmac yet. However, the ephemeral joy of having survived five long years of medical school drudgery and triumphing in the end is fast wearing off. As the dust and confetti settle, the magnitude of new adulthood responsibilities and those of facing the world as a young doctor become real with each passing day.
On a related note, I recently stumbled upon a scene in a documentary. A wild duck, in a bid to evade predators, had perched high up an ocean facing cliff to lay her eggs. They soon hatched adding a brood of four beautiful ducklings into her new domicile. As the young ones rapidly grew, space in the lofty nest became increasingly scarce. They also got hungrier, and bringing up food from the sea became more tasking for mother duck.
She needed to come up with quick a solution to the growing problem. The ducklings were still small, weak and wingless. She intended to cajole them into plummeting, nearly forty meters down the hard face of the cliff, to a new home on the rocky beach below. The baby ducks were totally petrified of looking beyond their warm and dangerously elevated nest, yet their mother’s resolve was firm. So one cool morning, after some warm regurgitated breakfast, mother duck started moving house.
She overwhelmed their fears and stubborn resistance by gently pushing them over the nest’s embankment. One after the other they half stumbled half hurtled down, bouncing off at skull crushing speeds against the unyielding rocky cliff’s face and quacking helplessly, towards the uncertain rough landing below.
I related with the ducklings’ plight. Joining graduate medical school was, perhaps, the birth of my career as a doctor and my five years there was my period of incubation. All that came with immense growth. Graduation was just a symbolic termination of life in the nest, ushering in a new stage of life in the wild. The transition and feelings of uncertainty about the future are that treacherous free fall. Change can be head-spinning!
Suffice to say, all the four ducklings survived the fall. They got to the beach where there was more food and space to grow. They learnt to survive in the wild and adapted. They thrived.
I suppose it is natural and okay to fear uncertainty. It is better to embrace it and work with it. Change can be challenging to process, but the associated growth is always good.
With this revelation in mind, I look forward to whatever is in store for me.