Even though my aspirations of becoming a physician started at a very young age, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I started documenting my journey. My non-traditional pathway has lead me through ups, downs, ins, outs, twists, turns, heartache, tragedy- you name it, I’ve been there.

Picture this: you’re in the ocean and you spot an oncoming set of waves. The first wave crashes down and you get buried under the water, twisting and turning, unable to breathe. As soon as you finally find your way to the surface for breath, the next wave comes crashing down even harder and pushes you back under for yet another beating under water’s surface. (and so on, and so fourth). That has been my journey. Despite the ominous tone of this introduction, I don’t want you to assume a tragic ending. Without these difficult times placed intricately throughout my story, there is absolutely no way that I would be the woman that I am today.

I remember walking my daughter to her Kindergarten class on the first day of school. All of the other moms and dads were there socializing and meeting one another. As I joined to intermingle with all of them, the inevitable question of “what do you do for a living came up?” And I shyly answered, “oh, I’m still in school, pursing medicine.” And the awkward disconnection between them and I was permanently established. This is the type of interaction that occurs any time I try and make “mom friends.” I’m not ashamed to claim my title as a pre-medical student. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get where I am today, and I will never try and hide who I am or who I’m aspiring to become.

The difficulty of claiming the title as a pre medical student as opposed to a medical student or physician is the instability of pre med life. Who knows if you’ll even get into medical school let alone become a physician! So it makes sense to feel their apprehension toward my position in life as it stands today and instability it holds for me as a single mother. All of the negative feelings they may have are ideas I’ve already pondered over a multitude of times- I’ve had nightmares over these thoughts, and I’ve beaten myself up over them-repeatedly.

Because it’s that difficult! Getting stellar grades, finding those extracurriculars that make you stand out, volunteer work, shadowing, clinical experience, dare I say- MCAT-this condensed “list” doesn’t do its difficultly justice. The pre med path is tough- but its proclaimed difficulty goes beyond taking difficult classes. It’s tough because there’s so much unknown for your future. Nobody knows their fate during application cycle, or even during medical school when you’re applying for residency. And as a single mother, with a child who is solely dependent on me, the amount of stress I feel from that uncertainty can not be fathomed.

A huge reason why my journey has brought fourth so many challenges is because of this very reason- doubting my capabilities, feeling selfish, wondering if I’m doing the right thing for my daughter, worried that it’ll have all been for nothing, fearful of rejection, my list goes on. But do you know what I have realized?

I fall into a deep depression, longing to go back, ready to fight like I’ve never fought before to earn my place in medical school. When I stray away from medicine, it’s incredibly difficult to be a good mother to my daughter. And throughout these past few years of battling this internal disarray of thoughts, I’ve come to understand and found contentment knowing that pursing medicine is the very thing that will make me the best mother possible, and allow my daughter to grow and become the very best version of herself possible. She will know that she is capable of achieving all of goals and aspirations. Why, you may ask? Because she watched her mama bear do the same thing.

And so my dear friends, understand that this pre med journey is difficult. But so are you. Never minimize your accomplishments. Recognize your dedication and always celebrate your decision to purse medicine-despite the odds.