I realized that when you’re doing something that requires a ton of personal effort or when you are placed in a position that sometimes can be a lonely one (like studying for the USMLE), it helps to have support. I do not mean the kind of natural support that a spouse, a friend, or a family can give but I mean the support that comes unknowingly from people who are in the same boat as you are.

It is somehow easier when you are in a much familiar place like the city where you went to medical school in, where your functions are better adjusted without effort and the big zone is just comfortable. You have many friends who are in the same sphere and who share the same dreams as you do. Connecting is easy.

Another scenario would be—during these times after graduation, after another set of test like your home country’s board examinations, for example, the circle becomes less and less. Many are now going off to residency training or for some, many have gone back to their own countries or home states studying on their own (USMLE, PLAB, etc.) or whatever it is that they do. The circle again becomes smaller even. Then, you find yourself one day, also to have moved out of the circle. And when you come to think of it, no one is really left in the circle because the circle seem to have whirled itself into a dot. And, some of these dots are now all over the world forming new circles! Or, some of the other dots scatter, quietly and eventually finding its place in yet other types of circles.

While I am very familiar with the United States, frequent trips here for years in the past and watching how family and friends live does not make me feel easily connected right away. I had to adjust. I had to find connection. Especially when I hauled many of my books all across the Pacific having no certainty at that time if I am to stay for good this time or this is going to be just one of my trips again. My personal life ever so downplayed.

However, my eventual moving, as it turned out, had a huge personal nature. The professional cause of my trip was just to come, maybe stay, maybe go. Then it became too slow in keeping up with my personal life. I moved because I followed my proverbial heart. Sure, it’s okay to puke! 😉

I did not just move on to the next endeavor which is to hit the books again, travel and stay for a short while, take the test and then go back to my old apartment in Asia. Somewhere in the middle of all of these, there is my life just kicking and screaming to take its place.

It was interestingly disconcerting. It was a strange crisis of sorts. Unlike my professional choices which are structured and boxed, this personal choice seem to have kicked the former to whimpering on the side. It almost made me nuttily laugh in surprise. Yes, my professional path was going to be tangential and eventually aligned with my personal path but at that point I could almost see the latter grab me by the hand, look me in the eye and say, “The right time is now. I cannot wait for that slow poke trailing behind.” And so I embraced something beyond my own self and beyond my own dreams. It became not about the exams, not about my career goals, but simply about my life and the life of the one I love.

I can carry my books all over the world, whenever I could and wherever place I am able to set my foot on. I was faced with an important question, immeasurable unlike the exam. I almost became stupid and went back to my comfort zone and just become content with making life wait. Like I often did.

But there is just that one moment in my life when I was very certain at two things so crazy. I may not be a winner all the time, but about these two, I am definitely the champion. One of them is the decision to act on a dream and the other more important one is to tear down my walls.

After the structure of medical school, it seems, life all around me just leaped at me and at some point I noticed and celebrated the colors of my own simple life—a human being who sometimes (many times) wonder why she subjects herself to this subtle torture. But we all know why. We who want to gravitate to the source, as I would say. We who want more answers to what we currently know. We who want, live, and dream of what is out there—answers in the most number of dimensions possible to questions of all complexities we can think of.

We, who at other aspects of our lives, have subsequently moved on but disconcertingly and willingly accepted this pause while yet again surrendering to another level of learning and re-learning.

At the core of all of these, I somehow understand and better value a shared experience. Thus, I cannot help but share with you a bit of myself while sharing about my study process. Because they too got married when I did.

Here are sites and groups where somehow I drew inspiration, received some good wishes, and partake some of the much-needed energy pie. They became my special circles—and in many ways, my affirmations along these roads.

Andreas Carl’s USMLE dot net

Rumors Were True

Facebook USMLE groups

Prep for USMLE Forum

Student Doctor Network

Kaplan Medical classmates from all over the world

USMLE takers from all over the world who randomly email me because they have read my blog

Some of my classmates and old friends from my home country

With this I hope, if you will, find your version of these circles. Especially if you take strength in being an unformidable dot who may be blown by the wind in any part of the world, I hope it is worth to know that there are many other dots who share with you, though far and scattered, this one big circle. And that idea makes me smile today.

Have a good week!


This is not an endorsement of the Function Brainiac Carambola Drink. No, I was not paid. This brand is just lucky I was very thirsty when I sat at a cafe’ with my husband one day and needed something other than coffee. It claims to be spiked with nutrients. It did quench my thirst and I felt refreshed. Dear Function, hint…hint. 😉

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