My 21st Summer

-Ronak Patel, contributing writer

I had summers in my childhood that were the best. Most of them included traveling to different places with family, meeting cousins and so on. But since I have grown up now and am becoming a young adult, I wanted to take this summer to try and get things together and plan my life. I have had pre-med (biology) as my major, as I could not think of any other subject I liked in my school days, and I hope to get into med school with it. But still, every morning for the past few years I have woke up asking myself: Do I really want to go through this much stress and long years of studying, especially when I have classes like organic chemistry? That being said, isn’t that how our life is supposed to be? Life tests us all the time; it wants us to be competitive, and never slows with responsibilities. If I don’t make a decision today, I will always be the same person with no clue of what I am doing and I will always be confused.

Instead of going to India with my parents for a trip back home this summer, I decided to stay in the U.S. and spend two months trying to get closer to medicine and doing things that will bring me to this field. Isn’t that what we do all the time? We experiment with life to see what works. Well this did work for me.

I started with fitness and got on a fitness schedule with my friend Matt. He was a great help, and now I am on a very regular workout schedule, exercising at least three days a week no matter what. I lacked this discipline last year—I barely went to the gym. I hope to keep going this year.

Psychiatry has always been very fascinating to me for some reason. It’s like a pizza to me, never losing its attraction. I always wanted to shadow a psychiatrist, which almost became impossible when I came to know how complicated that process is. I tried calling every private psychiatrist from the yellow pages, but I didn’t get what I wanted.

Fortunately, I met a doctor one day while playing tennis with one of my friends. He was nice and told me he would talk to his wife who is a resident in a psychiatry department. I ended up meeting a psychiatrist who appreciated my interest in psychiatry and gave me a chance to shadow him. For a moment I thought I had won the lottery! I had always heard the phrase: “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” and I believe it to be true.

I also spent time volunteering and meeting people suffering from diseases that have no cure. Most of my time was spent with a gentleman who had Alzheimer’s. For the first few days he was not friendly and I thought he didn’t like me. I continued to see him anyway, wanting to understand how Alzheimer’s worked. One day, when I was with him, I met his daughter. She told me that he had talked about me, saying, “That foreigner did come to see me.” Hearing that made me happier than I had ever been. I never expected that. I always noticed his mood changes; he was mostly happy when he was on his medications. This made it clear to me: if doctors cannot cure a disease they can at least help a patient live life better than before. Who knows? I may have a chance to come up with a cure for these diseases once I come to learn how the body functions.

All in all, I had great experiences this summer. They may not sound glamorous or fun, but they mean a lot. Taking time for myself and spending this summer for the right purpose made me more confident about myself. I feel like I have purpose again and everything seems to be in order, including my own ambitions. Now every morning I won’t wake up and ask myself the same question I have been asking because I know there is purpose for me here.

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