I want to be honest with you. It will be hard. It will be challenging. But you will make it.
You will leave undergrad to do Teach For America. I know it’s not the path you thought you would take before medical school but you will meet lifelong friends, your husband, and teach some amazing students along the way.
Just letting you know that you will retake your MCAT only to still get a score you aren’t happy with. Despite that, you will get that one acceptance letter from your home school and cry endlessly as you you realize your childhood dream is actually coming true.
It will be hard for you to leave your then fiancé in Atlanta as you move to Florida to pursue your dreams. You will step into the lobby of Florida State’s medical school and have to pinch yourself to believe you really made it to this point. Your family will join you with pride as you proudly wear your white coat at your ceremony. But it won’t be all fun and games. You will have a difficult time with cadavers in the anatomy lab right after your close friend unexpectedly commits suicide. You will wonder how you will ever get through the pain. Your mother will have to come stay with you to let you know it will be ok and not only will you finish anatomy successfully, but you will come back the next year to become a teaching assistant. I am telling you that you will make it despite all of the obstacles.
You will study hours upon end and the material won’t seem to stick. You will not always get the score you want and will have to work twice as hard to get the scores others do but I need you to keep going.
You will try to balance a long distance marriage with your new husband; each of you traveling every weekend trying your absolute best to put your relationship first. You will study very late nights and be sure to always FaceTime your husband before he falls sleep. You will cry about how hard it is to maintain a long distance marriage in medical school but you guys will be just fine!
I’m proud of you for trying to maintain balance in medical school the best way you could whether that meant exercising, flag football or visiting your family.
You will study so hard for that dreaded step 1 and though not getting the score you want you will make it successfully to your third year of rotations. There you will learn so much. Much more than you could ever dream! You will fall in love with obstetrics and gynecology and not dermatology or emergency medicine like you originally thought! You will get through each hurdle that is thrown at you. You will pass step 2 and do exceptionally well. You will get through the interview process and match successfully and finally be reunited with your husband. You will travel the world right before meeting your dream of graduating from medical school. That day you will be a ball of tears because you know how much you sacrificed for this.
Nicole, I just want you to know that all the time you are putting in, all the sweat, all the tears, all the sacrifice will all be worth it. Have some confidence in yourself and stop doubting yourself! Stop telling yourself you’re in too deep. Stop telling yourself you can’t do it! Stop comparing yourself to others. You have so much greatness welling up inside of you that is dying to be exposed. You will be scared. You will get tired. You will get discouraged but you have to keep going. Don’t let the naysayers distract you. Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do. And after medical school Nicole, the real work will begin and will bring its own set of challenges. But you can do it. I know you can. God has equipped you with everything you need to be successful. He’ll even throw a surprise baby in there to really blow your mind. You are smart but you will make mistakes. Don’t allow those mistakes to deter you for one second from what you are called to be. You were called to heal and change lives and that you will do if you don’t give up.
Most importantly Nicole, enjoy the journey. Don’t get so obsessed with the end goal that you don’t literally stop to smell the roses. Each stage of this process will help you to grow. Believe in yourself and you can do anything. I am so proud of you and cannot wait to see what you do with the gifts that were given to you.
-xoxo 31 year old Nicole Sparks, MD