The Emotional Academic
About a month ago, I was sitting in my medical microbiology class, fascinated by how every piece of nature has created such a masterpiece. I’d had a “eureka” moment when we were discussing how an individual can be allergic to penicillin. The unit chapter was about antibiotics and proper use of appropriate drugs. The moment the professor discussed the biological mechanism for such a reaction my mind was blown. It finally made sense. I always thought to myself, how can someone be allergic to a synthetic drug? To paraphrase my professor as best as I can: Penicillin is a compound produced by Penicillium fungi found in the natural environment and thus anything that is naturally made can trigger an immune response. Our bodies respond to such foreign entities and treat them as harmful invaders through antibodies. The body tries its best to be the best defender it can be. So, some immune systems react to penicillin because it recognizes it as a foreign invader, I guess you can say it overreacts from our perspective and cause rashes and even difficulty breathing. The body senses that the substance was produced inside another living organism and sees it as a threat. It finally made sense! I held myself from jumping out of my chair from all the excitement bubbling up inside me. All the wheels started to turn. There was a sense of fulfillment and an indescribable feeling of happiness. For a moment I felt on top of the world, I thought to myself, “Yasamin you got this! You’re going to be a doctor in no time. Just keep on turning your wheels.” But in a few short moments, the bubble of my imagination popped when I came back to reality. I’ll be honest with you, medical micro was the toughest class I signed up for last semester. It consisted of a handful of nitty gritty details that made my head spin. Neisseria meningitides? Bordetella pertussis? Rice water diarrhea? Oh my. Leishmaniasis? Hold on, I can barely pronounce that! How am I going to learn and retain all of this new foreign language? I thought only organic chemistry was going to be completely foreign to me. Let’s just say I did not do as well as I wanted in medical micro. I was baffled because I’m a junior; things are supposed to go my way by now. Right? I had this misconception that junior year is when your educational career takes a turn and your grades miraculously improve, you get internships and everything starts to fall into place. At least that’s what I was told freshmen year when I bombed that general chemistry exam. The upperclassmen gave me a bit of hope. But they forgot to mention the hard work it takes to get there. At one point during last semester, it felt like everything underneath my feet was shaking and I was falling apart. Waking up in the mornings seemed like a hassle. I know, sounds a bit depressing. Sure, I loved my major but it felt like something was missing. Something just did not click. I was expecting for things to change, to improve and to feel this sense of assertiveness about my future. But what was the change that I was hoping for? Every one of us wants to be successful but how exactly do we define success. The grades we get? Accumulating hours of clinical experience? Or this sense of holistic growth in each and every aspect of our character.