Small Battles to Big Wars

I didn’t get in. I studied my butt off and I didn’t get in.

In my 2nd year of undergrad, I finally realized that my grades potentially determined if I was going to get into the program. For so long, I partied everything away. I didn’t get a good grade—party, failed a test—party, boyfriend problems—party, got an A—party, just to do it all over again. I admit, I was getting nowhere. There I was, making a new city my home, learning to deal with my own emotions without mom or dad cradling me, and ill admit, it was hard.

It was a month before winter break, I couldn’t get into the volunteer program at a local hospital, 15 credit hours taken, and finally trying to balance everything the right way. I finally found a volunteer program in oncology (a field of medicine that I am interested in), but my schedule did not fit—at all, and I mean I tried EVERYTHING!

Sigh. So I took that as ‘no’ and kept it pushing.

I thought that I was being a healthy student; partying less, studying more, and I stayed in the library on Friday evenings to Saturday mornings. I somehow managed to get my 2.2 average GPA up to a 3.88 GPA in two semesters and I couldn’t believe it. I cried, like hysterically cried, when I received my grades. See, I was always the student who was very smart but struggled with test anxiety and balancing my school schedule. In high school, I was involved in so many activities and AP classes. I did it because it challenged me and I also wanted to prove people wrong, but shortly realized that I was drowning in self-doubt and procrastination. To receive such a high GPA in college, I was unstoppable. I finally found what worked for me…or so I thought.

Fast forward a month and I was home for winter break. Big smiles, happy hearts, and an empty wallet later, I still pushed forward. One thing led to another and it was time to sign up for my new classes, but I couldn’t get the most important one—Chemistry.

If it wasn’t one thing it was another.

 After searching high and low, I finally enrolled into the class and I was ready to go. I thought this was a sign from God that everything was going to work out in my favor. I mean I was partying less, studying more, and self exploring, right? No. This time I wanted to challenge myself even further and I picked up a 25-30-hour campus job. Two months into it, I realized I was drowning, but I didn’t know who to tell or how to manage. Motivational quotes weren’t helping this time, bath tubs only helped for the time I was in the tub, and Chemistry was kicking my ass.

I felt like a failure. My GPA was dropping and a month before applying to nursing school, I had to take the TEAS exam (an entrance exam that some schools will use for students to get into the nursing program), and my flashcards were delayed by 2 weeks. I only had a month to study, and now I had two weeks?

Breathe Nakia. 1..2…3.

 I got into study mode, and on the day of the test, I was determined I was going to pass. To be honest, I didn’t. I failed it by 4%. I didn’t know how to feel. Honestly, I was so exhausted from everything that I was more relieved than disappointed. i was able to breathe—finally. I needed a break. I needed to stop stressing myself out, to stop putting so much pressure on myself, and failing the exam brought back that memory.

I learned myself with that failure. I learned what I could handle and what I couldn’t. I learned that even though we have an expectation of what and how we want our life to go, it isn’t always meant to go that way. We can’t control it even if we tried our best. My color coded sticky notes, detailed planner, and daily reminders could only get me so far. Maybe failing nursing school wasn’t the end of the world, maybe it was just the beginning of a new start.

I love medicine. I love helping others, but I had to learn to take care of myself first because with a career heavily involved in putting others first, you forget to take care of you. I don’t want that for my future self. I want my future self to understand the importance of self-love and to take out time for herself. So here I am…continuously reminding myself that this is a journey, this is not a race. If it didn’t work the first time, then I get the chance to do it over again. I don’t have to be so hard on myself.

Breathe Nakia, breathe. 1…2…3.

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