What 2017 Gave to Me

Oh hey! I know, I know. I’ve been gone for a few weeks. Medical school and FINALLY BEING ABLE TO SLEEP can do that to you. But I am back in America (dang y’all, a lot has changed since I left), and that means I have to learn how to assimilate back into the real world. Before I have to enter the outside world, I wanted to reflect on the past year and share some of the “things 2017 gave to me.” You know, like that cheesy Christmas song with five golden rings and french hens and something about something in a tree? Okay never mind, just continue reading.

i gained self-confidence.

Usually when people see me, it’s in jeans, a t-shirt and a messy bun. Sometimes, I even put on eyebrow gel and perfume. You see, jeans and t-shirts are my safety net. There is no going wrong there. I don’t know anything about style or what a fashion “no-no” is (is that still a thing people say?) When I dress up, I often get embarrassed. I rarely wear dresses, much less wear them out in public. I feel like I can’t pull them off and always find an excuse to go back to my comfy clothes. But this year, I made it a point to wear a few of them throughout the terms. And when I did, I was shocked at people’s reactions. Everyone was so positive! And the times when I went full alter-ego mode, people didn’t recognize me (honestly, this was fun because I could mess with them until they realized who I was). I learned to be confident in what I was wearing. Little ole pig-tail wearing, long sleeve-loving Jasmin is slowly coming out of her shell!

i learned to have fun.

This sounds like a dumb one. But if you know me, I literally just go to class and back to my room to hide and study. All day, every day. So many people came up to me this term saying “I haven’t see you all term!!” To which I respond, “well that’s the point okay enough interaction for one day, bye now.” But this past year, I learned to give myself a few small breaks here and there. Whether it was to participate in the school’s cultural show, go to the beach, or hang out at a bar with friends, I made sure I got out of my room and let myself have fun. Those small moments throughout the term left me with some great memories and solid friends. And it is a habit I am hoping to continue in 2018.

i ignored the haters.

People often point out my lovely acne scars or the fact that I look more like a monkey than a person. I used to get really ashamed and hurt when people said these things to me. Like, in what world is that okay? But that is the real world (and the Internet). And throughout the year I realized, who cares? I know my face is a war zone. It’s a war zone because I am constantly stressed and freaking out about school. I’m also too lazy to wake up hours before class to cake my face in makeup and glue on caterpillar lashes like some of the girls in my class (which by the way, I can see your lashes separating from the back of the the lecture hall — get some better glue). I shouldn’t have to cover up my face or “keep it maintained” because the dumb boy next to me asked when I am waxing my face again. So now when someone points out that I have an extra hair on my eyebrow or a huge pimple on my chin, I just say “oh I’m sorry, I was too busy becoming a doctor.”

i couldn’t stop teaching.

Though I have been tutoring since high school, I didn’t realize how much I loved to teach until this past year. With biochemistry and neuroscience DES sessions, I opened up this new door. I never thought I would enjoy teaching this much. Setting up lesson plans, creating help sheets, teaching each week, and helping kids with their questions 24/7 — I never saw myself doing that. But I came to love it. And seeing those students teach their peers now makes me feel so happy. How I won the teaching award this year is beyond me, but I give credit to the amazing teachers I had in middle and high school. I will miss teaching on the island, but will definitely find a way to teach in the coming years.

i became thankful.

Of course I am thankful for the cliche answers of having a roof over my head, food on the table, blah blah blah. But I am most thankful for realizing how lucky I truly am. To have a family that supports me no matter what — not just in my journey through medicine, but also in my writing and photography. A family that gives me everything I need to succeed. To have friends who continue to check up on me, even if we haven’t spoken in months. Friends that lift each other up when one is down and remind each other that anything is possible. Those friends are rare to find,  and I am lucky to have found a few in my 24 years on this planet. I am also thankful for Grenada, for giving me the chance to pursue my dreams. This country has taught me so much over my 2.5 years of living there and they are lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

i started accepting hugs.

Okay this is one weird, I’ll give you that. But if you know me, I’m not a touchy, mushy, hugging type of person. I like my bubble and like when people stay out of it.  It ended up becoming a running joke among my friends — “ohhh I’m going to hug Jasmin! Close personal contact is good for you!” I’ll give high fives left and right, but hugs — no. But this term, I began to soften up. Whether it was because I was tired of being alone or because I am starting to lose that dark cold shell of hatred I kept myself cloaked it, I don’t know. But I started being more friendly and accepting of these gestures throughout the year. And people were shocked — even I was. So in 2018, I am going to learn to be more open and “friendly,” but don’t worry, the sarcasm and sass aren’t going anywhere.

i lost my filter.

I’ve always been snarky and blunt, but I tend to keep that bottled up until people really get to know me. But with the amount of stress and annoyance I got from this year, my filter flew straight into the ocean and is nowhere to be found. It’s gone for good. Which honestly, has been a good thing. I’ve gotten to befriend more people this year than I ever have, and all of those people I can honestly say are true, genuine people. People I would actually want to hang out with. People have also learned not to cross me, unless you enjoy getting roasted for an entire lab period. No-filter me has more fun and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. If you somehow found my filter, you can keep it. 2018 doesn’t need it.

i found peace.

That sounds a bit morbid, doesn’t it? No I’m not dying. Well, mentally yes, with all the studying I have to do (no one told younger me that medicine meant taking exams for the rest of my life). I found peace just within myself. I realized that I don’t have to kill myself to be the number one student. People always tell me that I am smart and that I know my stuff (which, to my friends who never said this to me and kept it real — thank you). I don’t know everything, I’m just really good at faking it. When people tell me I know everything, I start to panic because I know that there is so much left to cover, so much to cram in two days (kids — don’t procrastinate — bad times). As my dad says, there are always going to be questions that I will get wrong on every test. And that it is okay. As long as I am working hard and being truthful to myself, then all will be right at the end. I went from starting the year in panic attacks and stress to ending it with “It’s okay. I can do it.” I’ve never walked into an exam like that before. And it felt good. And it is definitely something I want to keep doing.

I just realized how sappy this post is. So here’s a photo I took on my last day in Grenada. I hope everyone has a wonderful start to 2018!

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