On the grind (or wishing that I were better)

I’m a bit foggy. The past ten days have been a blur and brought me from the middle of August to September’s doorstep.

Five days of unsuccessful cramming for C5T1 lead to a 55%, 12pts below the already generous 67% pass/fail mark. Frustrating to do poorly despite lots of preparation, though I knew I was over my head while answering the questions better that than thinking everything went well until the scores are released. Reportedly, this will be the most difficult exam of the year and I dearly hope that’s correct.

I’ll have to adjust my study habits because I cannot afford another failed exam on this course block. And this leads to a drained feeling: a week and weekend for exam prep, followed by a Monday exam, and then a full week of early mornings and required attendance landing me sprawled out for the weekend. It feels like half a month of non-stop motion.

Part of me understands that this is what I signed up for. No one ever said med school would be easy. I just wish I had a pause button, to take a full day in the hammock: watching the sky shift above me and the sun make its way from east to west. I dearly miss my idle time. I feel like I’m always emotionally grounding from a previous experience, never having a chance to fully top off the batteries before heading into the red.

I’m afraid. I’m wondering if I’ll make it through second year, academically. I’m wondering if I’ll burn out before Step 1, emotionally and spiritually. I’m wondering if I’ll handle the future demands on my attention and spirit in the clinic, internships, and residencies. I’m wondering if I’ll recognize the person who ends up on the other side. And, I wonder how much of that fear stems from my fatigue and lack of rest. Sleep deprivation caused me the most difficulty during Officer Candidate School. I’m certain it will play a role in my rotations and night shifts. I wish I were more resilient to irregular sleep schedules.

I’m reminded of the two different type of military schools: selection and training. In selection schools, they are weeding individuals out that they deem unfit to progress further. In training schools, they are teaching them the necessary skills for their given mission. Selection schools tend to be loud and stressful experiences, designed to push selectees as far and as fast as possible, to identify individuals that can thrive in the designed environment. Training schools are less pomp and circumstance, and much more task-based learning. But, that doesn’t mean training school is easy— if they are trying to teach you how to survive a POW situation, you can be sure that you will learn to endure the suck.

Individuals are supposed to fail out of selection schools, attrition rates can vary between 30 to 95%, and they plan for that. Individuals can fail out of training schools, whether for lack of grit or injury or unforeseen accidents, and that’s usually a testament to the difficulty of the training involved: the harder the mission, the bloodier the training.

I’m accepting the grind, insofar as it’s my only option. I’m setting a few tasks for myself everyday to cover the material that I must cover. I’m also making time for myself, just a few hours of things I like to do, whether it’s BJJ, slacklining, floating, or bothering my partner.

I don’t wish that the training were easier, I wish that I were better. I know the coursework is difficult and voluminous for a reason. I feel as though I’m missing a mental fifth gear, stuck in fourth despite my earnest efforts. Or, maybe I’m in gear on soft and sandy earth, and once I hit some solid ground I’ll be back up to speed. Only time will tell.

For now, I have slides to review and notes to write.


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

11 thoughts on “On the grind (or wishing that I were better)

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