I was sitting in a meeting at lunch on Wednesday, when I was approached by a few of CCNM’s first year students. A question came up around involvement, and they were wondering if I had gotten involved during my first year. My answer, which may shock some of you, was “no, I didn’t”.

We live in a world where we’re encouraged to do more, to be more, to want more, and to achieve more. We’re expected to get great marks in school, be involved in extra-curriculars, to have a job, and to spend time with our families, our friends, and ourselves. Oh yeah, we’re supposed to study too. But professional school (not to mention real life) is different. We’re at the point in our lives where we no longer have to worry about getting into the next school, about getting that 4.0 (because let’s face it – with 13 classes a semester, there’s no way you can get A’s in all of them) – we get to focus on figuring out what exactly our passion is.

When I entered my first year at CCNM I was figuratively and literally drained. I had graduated from my undergrad, passed on my ASU VP Communications torch, lived in Ghana, and moved to Toronto, ON from Halifax, NS – all within a 4 month span. I was having a hard enough time living in a city with streetlights and busses that ran on a schedule, let alone fathoming the process of getting involved. So I didn’t. This ‘year-off’ from extracurriculars allowed me to step back and view my world from a different angle. My world had changed dramatically, and I wasn’t even sure how to live within it anymore. So I watched. And I waited. And I observed.

And then I figured it out.

At some point in my second year, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew how I wanted to be involved, and I knew what I could bring to the table. I had grown more sure of myself, and extremely content with the woman I am. It didn’t matter what other people said or thought, I 100% trusted myself. I had, in a sense, learned how to live for the moment.

So today, 1 week before midterms in year 3, listening to these two brilliant individuals, I realized again that I do what I do because I love it. Not because I feel like I have to, not because I feel like I owe it to someone else, but because everything I choose to get involved in is a reflection of something I am passionate about. And that knowledge? It’s strength. It’s not a strength that comes from lifting weights at the gym or yelling it from the rooftops, and it’s definitely not a strength that comes from ego. This form of strength is one that is reflected in subtle movements, in respect, and in self-confidence. It’s not something you can quantify, rather it’s something you stumble upon, almost accidentally – because you don’t realize it until someone points it out for you.

And on that note, dear first years, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me about the growth that the first two years at CCNM have brought me, and I challenge you to sit back, observe, and watch; then start to figure out where in this field of medicine your passion is. You don’t have to do everything, and you don’t have to know everything, but you do have to be willing to learn, to be uncomfortable, and to grow. And if you can open yourself up to that – well, I can’t wait to see you again in 10 years, because you’re going to be one hell of a doctor.

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