This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

***

This school year has been pretty rough.  Every week is a struggle and I feel hopeless before each exam. True, last year I was always behind on studying until the end, but did fine.  But what’s difficult is that this year I’m studying harder but doing worse.

Actually, when I say I’m doing “worse,” I don’t necessarily mean my grades.  I just calculated my grades so far and they’re not as bad as I expected.  I’m not in danger of failing, but I do think that relative to the effort I’m putting in, my life should be better.

More accurately, I’m doing “worse” emotionally.  Everyday it’s all struggles and no good feels.  Yes friendships are great; I’m leading a Bible study at church; I even work out once a week with a friend; I’m blessed in so many ways… except I’m not enjoying what I’m doing at school.  I’m studying, but for some abstract goal of the future.  Hazy are the memories of the good old days when the reward of learning was the learning itself.

One thing I’ve decided to change is to stop reviewing so much old material.  I’ve been spending about 2 hours a day reviewing old stuff, because I’ll need it when I take the USMLE Step 1 in June.  The problem is that 2 hrs/day = 14 hrs/wk = 42 hrs/(exam period).  If I were a better student, I would be a master of old content, and that mastery would help me learn the new content.  Instead, I’m always behind on my current materials, always playing catch-up and cramming right before the test (so I don’t learn them well, and have to learn them better when it becomes part of my review).

So maybe the problem is that I’m too stuck in the past, because I’m looking too far into the future, and therefore lost to the present.

***

Anyways, here’s a happy story:  On Sunday, after church I studied at school all day and all night until 5AM.  I went home to sleep for about 1.5 hrs, and returned to school for some last-minute studying of desperation before the exam. It was my first time doing this in med school, and surely it wasn’t a happy thing for my body (and perhaps brain).  But strangely (and sadistically?), I felt good.  I’m definitely not proud of what got me to that point, but I enjoyed how, in the midst of hopelessness, I fought back as hard as I could, and my exam went ok (it’s incredible what one can achieve the night before an exam).  Life may be really tough right now, but I shouldn’t worry, because I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

Simeon Koh

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