thankful

Every year on Thanksgiving I try to write. This morning, I sit in the quiet of my mom’s house and bask in the beauty of silence (no honking cars or beeping in reverse trucks outside window!). I listen for the Lord, and I’m thankful. This Thanksgiving is completely different from last Thanksgiving; instead of comparing the two and justifying which is better or worse, I’ve decided to embrace the change and find joy in the present time. The other day, one of my friends defined “joy” for me: a state of hope that isn’t fleeting or conditional. Always present. I think this is why Jesus Christ reminded us so often to be joyful—in triumph, trials, and everything in between. It isn’t a moment or a person or a situation that gives us joy. It is hope. Hope for a better future, an everlasting life of no pain, fear, or anxiety. Hope that what we are doing is making a difference—whether it be trying hard every day for our children, working every day to make ends meet, praying for a concern that hasn’t yet been answered, or living a thousand miles away from those you love to become a doctor. We do it all with joy for tomorrow, that tomorrow will be better today, and we hold that hope above all else. Joy and hope keep us going.

This time last year, my future was uncertain. I was interviewing at medical schools and finishing up my last year of college, without a real sense of where I would be this time next year. I was confident in God’s plan for me and trusted Him throughout the journey. When I got into Harvard, I was over the moon, but I was also scared. It became a reality that I would be leaving my family, my boyfriend, and my home for at least four years. I worried that I would lose touch with those I love, that my niece and nephew would not remember me, that long-distance would be riddled with problems, and that I would find out I wasn’t really cut out for medicine. But like all things, God has power over tomorrow and will always provide.

This year, I’m thankful for change. It is hard, and it rubs against the grain that we’ve made in life but helps us find new places for joy. I’m thankful that God put me in Boston. I love the city (despite the cars honking and beeps in the morning), and I’ve made the most wonderful friends who are kind, compassionate, and will make important changes in healthcare. Ultimately, I’m thankful for friends who push me to become a better me. I’ve found a Christian community that reminds me to pray often, fellowship with others, and live into the freedom that God gives us. My relationship with Avery has changed as we navigate loving from a distance, and I’m so thankful for his constant support and ability to adapt as life moves around us. I’ve had to be more intentional about calling family and staying connected. I’m thankful for the long calls and FaceTime chats we have about life. I have fallen in love with medicine and thank God for helping me believe in myself. I didn’t realize the beauty of working with patients, being trusted during sometimes the scariest time of a person’s life, and having the power to really make a difference in the lives of others. I love learning about complex medical problems and having hope that new, life-saving discoveries will be made in areas like genetics, cancer, and heart disease. I’m thankful for financial stability, the ability to live in Boston and attend school, and those who so generously help me. I’m thankful that my family is healthy and well. The gift of health is fragile and fleeting, and it really is our responsibility to do what we can for as long as we can.

I’m thankful for home, both the place and the people, because without it none of this would matter. Home is where I’m grounded, renewed, refreshed, and reminded of what’s important. Home helps me remember that change comes unexpectedly at times, but joy and hope persist despite evolving circumstances. That is something to be thankful for.

thankful for the moment

I’m sitting in a hip, jazzy cafe in Palo Alto, California. I’m sipping on some water because I just indulged in a milk tea with boba that was absolutely delicious. I arrived in California this morning around 11:00am, after leaving my apartment at a shockingly early time of 3:30am (shout out of appreciation to my boyfriend, Avery, for waking up and driving me to the airport). All day, I’ve jumped from plane to plane, city to city, to finally land in this spot. This comfortable spot of sitting in a worn-out leather chair in a young and busy coffee shop in a beautiful city.

It is no accident that I’m here; it took years of hard work, focus, dedication, sacrifice, and perseverance to get to this place. It took planning, purchasing a plane ticket, organizing accommodation, and a lot of thought to get here. Yet, I keep thinking to myself, This must be a mistake. What if I show up to the interview and they say, “Sorry, we have no records of you. It must have been a miscommunication.” At least then it would all make sense. I don’t say these things to self-flatter or to self-deprecate, only to give a voice to my darkest fears in this moment. Tomorrow, though, I’m interviewing at Stanford Medical School and that is a reality I never dreamed of coming true. Flying in, over the beautiful city of San Francisco and after coming in from Los Angeles, I thought about my hometown and how drastically different this is from that. I feel like I don’t belong here, like it is all a big mistake and I’m the butt of the joke, but somehow I know this is where I’m supposed to be.

I’m overwhelmed with appreciation at how far I have come and how beautiful this moment is, like finally letting air out of a balloon that has been way too full for way too long. I never expected this moment, but I know I worked hard for it. I never felt entitled to anything but felt indebted to giving this dream everything I’ve got; I reflect on everything I’ve worked diligently for and how I have sacrificed some of the ordinary joys of a 20-something to make it this far. Those moments lost are worth it, because the feeling of accomplishment in this one is so, so sweet. I reflect back, and I feel grateful.

Grateful for the people who helped me get here, financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Thankful for the people who have continuously believed in me, even when I was down on myself. I’m thankful for the people who pushed me to keep going when I wanted to give up. I’m thankful for the people who let me cry on their shoulder when I needed to. I’m not in medical school yet, and I’m certainly not a doctor, but I think it is worth celebrating this moment, no matter what happens in the future.

I have no idea what will occur in the next few weeks, but right now, in a warm and inviting cafe in Northern California, I am so happy. Happy for opportunities, for growth, and for truly having the chance to chase my biggest dreams.

thanksgiving thoughts

Thanksgiving is an awesome day. In addition to the wonderful delicacies I am preparing myself for, it is a day of reflection and intention. Yes, we should be thankful every single day of the year. But instead of being pessimistic about the attitudes of gratefulness today, can’t we be thankful that on today there is widespread recognition of the things in our lives we should be grateful for? Following the trend of this day of thanksgiving, I want to verbalize the things I am most thankful for. I hope your day is full of family, laughter, food, and relaxation!

  1. One of the most profound blessings from God on my life is to be the recipient of an amazing scholarship that has enabled me to meet some really influential people, conduct research early, enabled opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise happened, and most importantly alleviated the financial burden of student debt. I feel overwhelmingly blessed, very undeserving, but extremely thankful for my scholarship.
  2. I am thankful for my hard working, loving parents. They never make me question their love for me. They are the fuel behind my ambition. They are my very best friends and I can only hope to make them proud with my life and my choices.
  3. I am honestly thankful for my health. Learning about genetic diseases and the multiple problems that can happen so easily and so spontaneously has really opened my eyes to the value of health. God has given me legs that walk, eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that beats. Though overlooked and often not appreciated, my health is so important to me.
  4. I am thankful for my sisters and brother-in-law. They are genuinely there for me and feel my pain and feel my happiness. They are the ones I share my life with and without them my life would not be as full.
  5. I am thankful for the ability to openly express my beliefs. I am thankful to live in a country that has soldiers that will fight for me without knowing me. I feel so blessed to know that my beliefs are appreciated and that no one can impose their beliefs on me. I am thankful for the ability to vote and exercise my personal liberties. I am thankful, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, that I am an American.
  6. I am thankful for my roommate and suitemates. They love me, support me, and keep my life fun and full of happiness. College has been such an amazing transition because of their constant love and concern for me. My life would not be the same if I wouldn’t have met them!
  7. I am thankful for opportunity. Opportunity to love who I want, live how I want, and be whom I want. A lot of people around the world don’t have opportunity. A lot of people around the world are eager for the simple opportunity to find food, shelter, and happiness. I am very, very thankful I have all of these things and more.
  8. I am lastly thankful for my mind. My mind allows me to pray. It allows me to learn new things. It allows me to make decisions that I want to make. It allows me to know love. I don’t ever want to take that simple fact for granted. My mind enables a lot of my life, and I am thankful that I was blessed with a mind that works. It is the little things that are the most important and often not recognized enough.

2015 has easily been one of the best years of my life and has taught me how to be appreciative, humble, and thankful. We all have seasons of our lives where things feel so wrong. It is important in these times to take off the blinders of life and expose our eyes to the valuable and important things in our life: faith, family, and friends. I can’t wait to spend my thanksgiving with my family (and delicious food that isn’t cooked in my dorm microwave). What are you thankful for?