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With Apologies to Dr. Seuss…F@*K the Waiting Place

So, nobody in the world likes waiting. It’s essentially a terrible thing to be static, and more so when there is nothing you can do to change it.

Med school applications (especially Canadian ones) are basically just a whole lot of waiting.

Dr. Seuss mentions “the waiting place” in his book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” The book is a personal favorite of mine, so much so that I have quotes from it on my high school and undergrad graduation rings (also, this blog title). My mother likes to quote the book to me in emails when I’ve succeeded at something, and as a cheer me up when I’ve failed. When I got rejected the second time to med school, she tried to cheer me up by saying that this is just the waiting place, and that I’d get out of it eventually.

I believe my exact response was “F@*K the waiting place.”

Because see, here’s the thing. Waiting for the chance to apply again, to interview again and then to possibly get rejected again? It’s really demoralizing. The application process for Canadian med school is pretty terrible – you stress about deadlines, sweat it out when you can’t reach references who were ‘totally on it,’ put everything you can into multiple apps, and then, like a nervous parent sending their kid off to school, you submit those apps, the summation of all your hopes and dreams.

And then you wait.

You wait to hear if you were enough to get an interview, wait for the actual interview, and then wait to hear if all the blood, sweat and tears you put in was worth it.

And then, if it wasn’t, you wait for the privilege of putting yourself through it all over again. But the worst part is this – all the waiting makes you feel like you don’t have any control over your life. And in the most literal of ways, you don’t. From the second you submit that app, it’s not up to you to anymore. All your dreams, your future, is in someone elses hands.

That can be a pretty terrible, depressing feeling.

It makes you want to give up – to pick plan B (law school, in my case) because you don’t know what else you can do, and you’re not sure if you want to put yourself back on that emotional rollarcoaster again. The average number of application rounds in Canada, from what I’ve gathered, ranges from 3-4. That’s years of not feeling good enough, of reapplying and working your butt off and WAITING, and of putting your life effectively on hold until you get in. Of spinning your wheels. Of having to tell your friends you didn’t get in again, and feeling ashamed by that.

But, potential med student reader (if I’ve not already scared you off or depressed the living hell out of you) here’s the thing.

You can’t give up.

Now, I’m not saying go through this forever. And I’m not ragging on anyone who decided they just couldn’t stomach one more cycle. I get it. I’ve felt that way, and if it’s the right choice for you, then do it. But I’d suggest this – pick a number of cycles you’re willing to do (mine was 4) and give it your all. And then, if nothing has shaken loose, in the last cycle apply for plan B as well, and roll the dice where they lay.

And don’t let yourself get crushed if you don’t get in on the first cycle. It hit me hard, because I’d never really had an academic misstep, and I was really unused to the feeling of failure. Wallow for a few minutes, then get up and try again. Try to connect with so people in the same shoes as you – pre-med friends are great, because when you tell them you’re on your third app they go “yeah, this is X number for me. This sucks right?” They’re the best friends to have, to share disappointments and victories with. When I got my call off the wait-list, my parents were my first calls, and my two pre-med friends (both currently wait-listed) were my second, and they were nothing but excited for me. I’ve got my fingers crossed for them, and if it takes them another cycle then I’m here for moral support, just like they were there for me.

But, ultimately, the moral of this particular ramble is this: don’t let those feelings keep you from doing what you want. Everyone feels crushed when they open that email and see the word “rejected” not just you, and you need to lean on those people for support. You’re not a failure if it took you more than one try. Persevere, do your best, and you’ll get there.

Remember: everyone’s waiting for something. Until they’re not.

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