During my senior year of high school, I was eager to graduate. I had my whole life planned out. My very simple plan was college for four years then straight to medical school after. I planned out every possible class I would take, the extra-curricular activities I would engage in, where I wanted to volunteer, and whether or not to do research. I even planned out what type of medicine I wanted to specialize in. I had become the grand master of planning, but I failed to remember that life doesn’t always go as expected. Sometimes what happens is the complete opposite. I realized that planning out my life came from my desire to be in control and was being unappreciative of life’s unpredictable nature.
At times my inner control freak still gets the best of me. I sometimes recklessly use a pen to fill in the timeslots of my life without giving myself enough wiggle room. Sure, it is great to have such confidence in my decisions but I’ve learned you have to be able to gracefully handle curve balls that are thrown at you. Sometimes, I need to remind myself to let go of notions that may hold me back or to admit when something just isn’t working and it’s time to find a new approach or start fresh.
My expectation from the time I started college was to do well in all of my classes, and never allow any setbacks to get in my way. I based this confidence off of how well I did in high school – which I later on realized was a naïve idea. High school was a walk in the park for me, but in college I started experiencing real challenges.
My biggest fear before junior year was the thought of having to take a gap year. I thought that it would derail me; I worried that it would cause me to lose the love and passion I have for medicine. After having to repeat Organic Chemistry I, coming to terms with the possibility of a gap year sent chills down my spine. Then a few months later when the new MCAT was released, I realized that I never left room for taking classes that weren’t part of my original plan, like psychology and biochemistry. It all became so overwhelming. I had to face what, at the time, was my biggest fear and accept it as my reality. But as time went on, I realized that my “biggest fear” was just something I created myself and not a real threat to my future. If you are truly passionate about your career, a pit stop on your path towards success should not be a big deal. In fact, now that I’ve had more time to consider my decision, I’ve come to love the idea of taking a gap year. Someday, when I look back on my life, I imagine these years spent preparing to apply to medical school may be amongst the most stressful years of my life. For several semesters I lacked the confidence to associate myself as an aspiring doctor because I had doubts that I constantly tried to ignore. As I slowly worked on myself and came to understand that there is no such thing as an ideal path to medical school, things started to fall into place and make more sense. The confusion and anxiety was gone and my doubts weathered away.
Each and every pre-medical and medical journey is unique. It has its own distinctive essence of endurance, gratitude, difficulty, and success. But even failure in this journey is empowering. It opens many new doors of opportunity. I’ve found that these setbacks have allowed me to change my perspective. One true failure in life is to undermine your capabilities and to devalue your ambition and passion and become your own obstacle. I’ve stopped fearing the unknown and scheduling every moment of my future out in advance. While I once saw taking a gap year as a failure, I now see it as the best way to digest what I’ve learned, refresh, and confidently move forward.
About Yasamin Rahmani
Yasamin Rahmani is an undergraduate student and a peer mentor at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Biology, and aspires to become an Emergency Physician. Yasamin’s parents are immigrants from Kabul, Afghanistan, and, after spending a small portion of time in Tashkent, she moved with her family to Moscow where she spent majority of her childhood. At the age of ten Yasamin moved to the United States, where her affinity for the field of medicine came to fruition. While moving from country to country, Yasamin refined her language skills and is fluent in Farsi, French and Russian. Aside from her passion for medicine, Yasamin takes part in cultural understanding and historical research about Afghanistan. Some of her publications include co-authoring Afghan Proverbs Illustrated Russian-Dari, from which all profits are donated to literacy courses in Afghanistan, as well as co-editing Art through the Ages in Afghanistan. Yasamin hopes to use her diverse background and her love of medicine as tools in the rapid globalization of the field medicine. During her free time, Yasamin significantly enjoys writing, dancing, volunteering and being involved in philanthropy projects.