Sometimes you experience something so traumatic that you can’t really recall the details. The last block was something like that for me. The Friday of the night before my exams, I was slightly sick. As the weekend progressed and my studying intensity increased, my fever went up and my head was at a constant dull throb.
As I write this I’m not thinking too deeply on the events of that weekend and the day after because they were so bad. The weekend itself was not too remarkable; I studied per my usual methods and Monday was feeling fairly confident going into all three exams. This confidence was short lived. See, unlike semester 1, semester 2 exam days are an all-day affair – a mental marathon of sorts. Exams start at 8:15a and don’t end until around 5:00p in the evening. Living that day was like jumping off a cliff. My first mark was low, but not horrid. With it, though I gained an initial visceral sense that this wasn’t going to end well. Nevertheless, I marched on to exam 2, where my mark dropped precipitously from the previous black so much so as to make me question if I knew the material at all. And then, as those internal organs shifted to the acceleration of the leap off the cliff, exam 3 came around. Those feelings manifest in such a violent manner that it really felt like the end of the fall – the impact of hitting the ground.
I’ve had a few days to digest the whole ordeal and it seems distant now. I noted some things I wanted to discuss, though, during the process of my exam preparation. I find I always make such notes during block weekends because everything is so amplified and my focus is so high.
What defines a person? Are they their character? Are they a beautiful biological clock? How am I a different entity from my peer? I say this not in the scientific sense – the material difference between myself and my brother I could elaborately detail thanks to my medical education – but more in the personal sense.
I think a person is a summation of their habits. Despite motivations and aspirations and ambitions, what truly makes a person is how he or she generally operates. Your general function follows a pattern – these repeated behaviors are habitual. Your end goal, put in these terms, is somewhat arbitrary. Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, the way you approach it determines if and how you reach it. The pursuit of greatness is not a reason to do anything, nor is it truly sustainable. Simple consistency and pleasure derived from this consistency are sustainable.
When you climb a mountain to prove how big you are, you almost never make it. And even if you do it’s a hollow victory
What makes a doctor? A chemist? The great chemist does not seek a prize or trophy, but something new. A physician cannot stand in front of his or her patient and demand his compliance by listing his degrees. He or she has a “social responsibility” that drives him to learn and practice. Those are the things that make those people.
I am – we all are – a consequence of habit. My physical form, my academic prowess, my attitude, my demeanor, my candor all define me. Every experience I have comes through a filter of these habits, and I build myself through them even more.