It is with a sense of numb relief that I mark the completion of dental school in this space. My final check-out meeting was this morning, graduation is this Friday. I started four years ago, on a hot August day. I lived elsewhere then. Mykala and I weren’t married. I had no idea what I was in for. It’s no understatement to say I was a different person.
My emotional bank account has been enriched. My intellectual, interpersonal, experiential accounts, too. Our fiscal bank account has experienced a stunning downward trajectory below zero, a trend which will likely prove the most dramatic of our lifetimes. Neither of us question the value of the investment.
Lately, I’ve begun composing these journal entries as though they were letters to my children — this imagining shapes my topics but not my prose. I’ll make an exception to that, and address our future children now.
Kids, you never knew me before I had this degree. I didn’t know me very well, either. So, I learned it’s not true when someone says that “it wasn’t meant to be.” I could’ve taken a handful of times in school to mean that “this wasn’t meant to be.” I could’ve stopped, left, quit, given up, thrown in the towel and convinced myself that forces outside my control conspired against me to prevent me from reaching my goal. However, I learned a really REALLY important thing. That really important thing is this: sometimes, you only have control over your own effort, so you need to calibrate your self perception; at the end of the challenge, if you can honestly say to yourself “I did everything I could to make this happen,” then you’ve nothing to worry about. Don’t take that “everything” lightly — the entire statement descends into horrid platitude without that word. You’ll astound yourself at what “giving everything I can” can mean. “Wait, all I’ve got is this, and yet I can do all that?” Yes, you can. We set up blocks and boundaries and limits at what’s uncomfortable, but the true limits lie way, waaay out there.
You decide what’s meant to be in your life, and you make that happen. These things don’t happen by fighting against all that surrounds you, but recognizing the little switches you can flip, knowing when it’s exactly the right moment to throw all your weight against the door blocking you and your dream. You can’t move the ocean, but you can surf the breakers back to the shore.