Dealing With The Unexpected

Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Laura Turner

I’ve officially begun my interview trial! I’ll catalog more about my experiences as I go, but just as I was beginning this experience, I went through something rather personal and unexpected. I had not seen this particular event coming so it really threw me for a loop for a while—just as I was beginning to go on residency interviews. My first interview was particularly difficult as the event was fresh in my mind and my emotions were raw. I had to hold it together, put on a smile, and act as if nothing was wrong. Just being there felt like the most difficult task in the world to me at that point but I had to do it. My future depended on it.

Life is about dealing with the unexpected.

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Things don’t go as planned, family members fall ill, events are canceled or rescheduled. These are just the consequences of being alive and unfortunately can occur at times that are particularly inconvenient, as they did for me. There are some schools that offer time off to fourth-year students so that they can interview without having to balance being on a rotation at the same time. My school is one of the few that does not provide this luxury to its students, so on top of getting ready for residency interviews, I had to hold it together on my rotation as well. This particular rotation was one where the attending was very interested in pimping students, so it was made even more difficult for me. The point that I am trying to make is that it is important to learn to make lemonade from the lemons of life. Even if it may not seem like it at the moment, everything works out for the best. Even if you don’t believe that, come to accept the things that you cannot control and continue with your life.

The best things I did to help myself through this period were to take care of myself properly. I’m currently running from interview to interview, and it can get very hectic and difficult to even eat a proper meal. I still try to make time to exercise, pack healthy snacks for the road, and make sure I’m practicing mindfulness. This comes in handy in dealing with stressors both related and unrelated to medicine. Dealing with both at the same time can be especially difficult because it felt to me like I was losing control over multiple aspects of my life. Handling the residency match process is a beast in itself, and much of where you end up training is out of your control. That’s partly what led me to believe that whatever happens is for the best, especially if that’s what you make of it.

Meditation has also helped me in dealing with the ups and downs of life and keeps me centered when my mind becomes cluttered with swirling thoughts. I highly recommend downloading an app for your phone and using it for just a few minutes every day before bedtime or whenever is most convenient. I find that meditating before bed helps me fall asleep with a clear head and leads to more restful sleep overall (which can be hard to come by during interview season). 

Focusing on what’s most important in life can also help get over whatever difficulties come about. For me, that is appreciating my friends and family and being able to pursue such a special and rewarding career. This is a huge turning point in my life where institutions are actually looking to hire me as a physician, so I’m still relishing in the excitement of that! Finding whatever makes me happy, if even for a fleeting moment, is so important as I march on and get through each and every day.