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2016 reflection

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Without unnecessary glamorization, I can admit that 2016 was a challenging year. It was tough sometimes. Life would be incredibly boring if it was always pretty, uninterrupted happiness, and stretches of ‘highs’. To appreciate the highs, one must experience lows. Certainly, the difficulties in life are always relative, a thought I’ve kept tucked away to ease the discomfort I felt at times. My weakest days are still better than some, and others’ weakest days may be my strongest. I write not a gloomy, melancholy post but instead want to share what I have found most valuable in 2016. This past year I was challenged – intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. I firmly believe that true transformation only occurs after one wades through the waters of difficulty. Despite the challenges, I think 2016 was a great year – the “year of transformation”. I’m thankful for the bumps I felt along the way and even more thankful for the people that felt them with me.

I had written a post that revolved mostly around the good things I experienced this year – working in cardio-oncology, getting to do research, traveling, etc. But I realized that those experiences in themselves aren’t at all what I value from 2016. Unexpectedly, this was the year that I learned the importance of relationships. The people I met this year have impacted my life so much and instead of dedicating this post to a list of things I’m excited I got to do, I would rather pay tribute to those people who have helped mold my year and, ultimately, me.

I have always been a lone ranger. Independence is one of my greatest strengths – and weaknesses. I spend a lot of time in my head, thinking, and don’t want to trouble others with the complexity of my problems or the sadness of situations. This year, though, I welcomed people in. I showed them more of who I am. I began to let others know that my life isn’t perfect. I talked about my issues with those around me. I learned a great lesson on the value of friendship. I met so many wonderful people this year and wouldn’t have gotten through the year without them. To my friends and family who have walked with me through this year, every step of the way, I feel intense gratitude in my heart for you. I have share more laughs with my best friends, exchanged meaningful conversations with those in classes, and gained treasured advice from mentors all because I opened up and learned that people are the most important part of life. This year wasn’t about doing research in the lab or writing papers for cardio-oncology; it was about having conversations at the bench about life and science. It was about the wisdom my mentor gave me about my own future career and the friendship that I shared with those in the lab. It wasn’t about getting awards to travel for research but instead about devouring Chicago style pizza with brilliant friends and meeting students from all over. This year to me is not about writing articles and reading scientific literature for my own sake but about the impact it will have on patient care and the future of medicine. I look back on this year and don’t want to see a compilation of activities that propelled my career and education forward. I want to see people that I made laugh. I want to remember cooking tacos in my summer apartment as I shared life stories with new friends. I want to remember early morning study dates at Starbucks with people that inspire me. I want to remember laying on the floor, in tears, working through life issues with my roommates – and hugging and laughing afterwards. I want to remember meals with my family and hugs from my nephew (and when he learned to call me MiMi). I don’t want my life to be stretches of awards, acceptances, and accolades. I want it to be flowered with memories of others. This year I learned to value friendship. I learned to value people. I am so thankful for the memories that people have given me and the ways that they have impacted my life indefinitely.

So, to this year I say thanks. Thanks for the good times, the bad times, and the eh-times. I’m thankful for 2016 as I entered it more naive and leave it more wise. I thank my God for the opportunities to do what I love and to have those around me that I love. I pray for 2017 and for the challenges it will bring. I have hope and optimism for the new year. I look forward to writing this time next year and reflecting on what the new year has delivered.

“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

-C.S. Lewis

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