Have you ever had a dream so big that the idea of even attempting to achieve it seems absurd? Have you ever given up on a vision solely for fear of failing? Well for me, the rigorous dream I was too afraid to follow was the one of becoming a surgeon in the US. I have never been able to settle on a profession before; I have gone from wanting to be a photographer to an entrepreneur. But over the iterations and ideas, the job that has never been entirely discarded was the one of becoming a doctor.
I have always been fond of the sciences; I remember being in elementary and counting the days to get to middle school just because we would be able to conduct remarkable experiments. In the seventh grade, I got third place in the science fair and in ninth grade I attended to my first operation room experience. These events all sparked a curiosity in me that propelled me into finding interest in the department of sciences, bringing me to the end goal of becoming a surgeon.
While the idea seems achievable (after all every year numerous students earn their medical degree) as time went by, my brain did what it knew best to do: Overthink. I took this idea of becoming a surgeon and found every flaw of the plan. What if I failed? What if I wasn't accepted to med school? These were all real concerns that were important to keep in mind; after all, forewarned is forearmed, but all they did was suppress my dream until it vanished.
What happened was that every time I let this negativity take control over my life, I resorted to a backup plan. Call it business, marketing, psychology or design, I found level 'b' plans that would ensure safety college-wise. As soon as I found medical school too much of a challenge I would shift to these careers that nested my deep insecurities. But don’t get me wrong; I find all of these vocations of high rigor, yet I was being driven by fear rather than passion. In a way, I was being a 'scaredy-cat', and it took me a while to figure it out.
I had already been suspecting this realization for months. I had begun to enjoy my biology class a lot, and every time I heard the word 'doctor' my eyes popped open, but I had never uttered idea out loud. It wasn't until yesterday's dinner when I was talking to my parents that the words blurted out of my mouth. "Mom, Dad, I think I want to study medicine again." I was waiting for surprise in my parents response or sort of reaction in the least; instead my mom just said: "I knew it."
My mom and dad are the type of parents that would support any decision I make regarding my future. As long as I'm happy, they're happy, which is why they have supported my unending career search. But it turns out that they always thought I would end up studying medicine. My mom explained that whenever she heard me talking about the subject she could feel the excitement in my voice, and in a way, it was true. As our food was being served, I explained all of my concerns and worries, and before I knew it, a long conversation began to take place.
We spent hours on the dining table discussing university plans and basically my future. I voiced my troubles, and my parents addressed them; but as the conversation started to perish my mom said a combination of words that I doubt I'll ever forget. Forgive me for my faulty paraphrasing, but here goes the staggering lesson: "The worst mistakes are the ones you never make. Don't reject a career for fear of failure, because if you do, you will always wonder 'what if.'"
As I began to process the words my mother was saying, I came to an understanding. I saw that fear will do nothing but restrain you, and I began to accept failure as it was: an impending challenge I would have to face every so often. Failure is a ubiquitous part of life, and every failure I face has and will forever determine who I am and will become. And while it may have taken me about a year and a 2-hour deep conversation with my parents, I was able to realize it. I finally saw that the biggest failure isn't trying and failing, but the irreversible mistake of failing to try.
We arrived at school on a Monday morning, ready to kick-start ICC. Some of us were overly-active while others still sleepy from the weekend, the class was a mess. To get into the IA-mood, Mr Cotter proposed the idea to begin by watching a 4-minute Beautiful work. The inspirational video told the story of a man called Jedidiah Jenkins who challenged his routine by going on a bike ride through South America.
I watched the video obliviously, little did I know that it would have a lot to do with my life in the next few weeks. See, that same Saturday, my phone suffered a terrible fall, and after multiple (pointless) efforts of reviving it, I had to accept the inconvenient truth: It was gone. I hadn't realized it yet, but for years now, I had been addicted to my device, and the next two weeks would come to me as an I-phone detox.
As you all know, the first step to getting clean is admitting that you have a problem, and to me, this step was particularly hard. I am someone who puts autonomy above all else. The way I was raised, I have cultivated a hunger for freedom, and to find out that I have been living a slave to my I-phone was something hard understand. But after spending one day away from it, it was obvious to me that I had a problem; bringing me to the next step in the process.
Withdrawal. Yes, it sounds pretty ridiculous, but let me put it into context. At this point in my life, my phone is essential. So essential, in fact, that I have built up a routine where everything revolves around this one piece of fragile technology. My alarm, my clock, my relationships, my connections, they all rely on my I-phone, and with it being gone, I was left with the empty, heart-wrenching feeling of FOMO. At night, I would wake up, restless, and actually bust out my laptop just to check out a few Facebook updates. And the fact that I couldn't see my WhatsApp was driving me insane.
The first few days were the worst, but after enduring such drastic change, I was ready to move on: Acceptance. I faced the idea of living without a phone and started to embrace it. I would go to sleep with nothing but a biological alarm clock and hoped to wake up the next morning (which thankfully I did). With no distractions, homework almost finished itself, and I found myself having all of this free time I never knew I could obtain! My days of worrying about crunched agendas were over, because, without a phone, everything is about the present.
When I lost my phone that Saturday night, I felt lost. I thought I would never adapt to living without it, but I learned to make the most out of the situation. And sure, if I could, I would still get my phone back in a heartbeat and I will always feel nostalgic to the memories that went away with it, but everything has its pros and cons. So let me refer to the video I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. In the Vimeo description, the filmmaker encourages us to shake up our lives a little, take on our own challenges and make a few scary decisions. Even though I didn't choose to place myself in this situation directly, it did lead me to accomplish all of the things mentioned above. Now that my life has returned to its normalcy, I can put things into perspective, and while I still miss my old I-phone, I don't regret the incident it underwent. Because sure, there will be moments when the addiction may want to take over, but at least now I will be a little bit more aware. There are a lot of things you can learn by spending 168 hours without your device, but for me, it was feeling for the first time, that I was actually free.
“The earth has music for those who listen.”