As the semester is coming to its final stretch, I’ve come to ponder what I could have done differently. Looking back, I wish I would have laughed more and worried less. If there is one thing that I learned from this semester, it’s the importance of mental health. I spent a handful of my days worrying about what will happen in a few years. Will I get accepted into the program I want? Will I end up with the medical career I’m hoping for? These thoughts caused me insomnia. The walk from my car to class turned into an agony of constant regret, the different classes I could have taken or how I could of prepared differently for the exam last week. I had forgotten to look around and appreciate nature, the beauty that I’m surrounded by. I was constantly rushing to get somewhere and forgetting to live in the present. My mind had become so occupied worrying about things outside of my control that I wasn’t working on what I could control.
The constant feeling of uncertainty has always been something I grapple with. When the Taliban infiltrated Afghanistan in the 90’smy father, a diplomat, became a political refugee and my parents had to flee the country. They left everything behind. My mother, a teacher, who spent 30 years of her life in the same neighborhood no longer had a place to call home. They migrated to Uzbekistan where I was born. When I was a child, we moved from one apartment to the next and I knew each neighborhood was only temporary, not my home.
I spent most of my life as an immigrant living in Moscow. Although the lifestyle of exploring the world may seem full of luxury and glamour, the majority of it was spent with the feeling of skepticism as part of my everyday life. Being a bit uncertain about the future is human nature, but for me it came at a heavier price.
My childhood definitely haunted me when I came to college. I questioned every decision I made as if I was an immigrant in my own educational career. I’ve come to realize that without addressing old insecurities of the past, moving on to bigger and better things becomes quite challenging.
As my college career went by, I realized that I was isolating myself from the changes of adulthood but even in my isolation I was occupied with thoughts, counterproductive thoughts. Why bother worrying about something so far ahead? Why not just focus on the things you can productively approach that’s within your reach?
I constantly questioned everything. Are my grades good enough? Is my work ethic good enough? Am I good enough? Sometimes I would give myself halfhearted answers and other times I was left tongue-tied. How could I not have an answer to my own questions? That absolutely killed me from within. I slowly started to lose confidence in myself. One day I woke up and realized that it’s almost finals week, where did the semester go by? I had to come to terms with fact that I may not do well in all my classes but I have to put in the most effort and from there move on and make constructive, rational decisions. It took me almost three years to wake up from being consumed by constant worries. I wish it had happened earlier, but I think it happened during the right moment. I’ve come to terms with healing myself and becoming relentless in achieving my goals. I realized that if I’m not confident in myself, no one will ever be. Being confident in that fact that my persistence and passion for medicine will eventually pay off. If I hadn’t realized this, I would slowly start to lose my passion. To me, confidence and passion are engaged in an intimate relationship, without one the other slowly starts to weather away.
I know that for many pre-meds it becomes hard to take care of yourself at times. You forget that it’s important to nurture both your mind and body to be successful. I’m working on taking care of my physical health by doing more yoga. I’m trying to listen to my body with every meal and give myself a mental break when I feel stuck while doing an assignment. I’m going to take this summer break as an opportunity to appreciate who I’ve become and breathe a little more. I once had someone tell me that the only worrying worth my time was if I could do something at that given moment to fix the issue. Other than that, I was letting my fears consume me. I rarely hear talks about mental health amongst pre-medical students. Sometimes we get so caught up talking about classes and grades that we induce unnecessary stress on ourselves.
Wherever we may end up, it’s critical that we get there feeling healthy and whole. That our hard work and scarifies don’t take away from who we are and that we don’t lose ourselves. The path to becoming a doctor is highly demanding and it expects a lot from us. But here I am at 20 years of age, with the courage to say that one day I want to save lives.
You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
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.