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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Tag Archives: orthodontic residency

I really should be studying for a final next week but I really don’t want to so I’m writing this instead. Thanks to the magic of social media I’m reminded that 9 years ago I was also at Columbia studying for finals of my first semester in college. I don’t think my 19-year-self would be too impressed to know that this is still happening almost a decade later.

As the end of the year approaches, I’ve been looking back and reflecting on everything that’s happened in the last year. More specifically, everything that’s happened since the start of the residency application cycle last year. Having just experienced the interview and match process on the other side has brought back a lot of memories, and honestly not very good ones.

When I applied to ortho last year, the hope was to stay in SF, or at least California, since both my parents and Yufei are pretty established in the Bay Area and it would be nice to stay somewhere for longer than 5 years for once in my life. I worked really hard in dental school and naively thought that I had a pretty good chance of achieving this. However, it soon became apparent that life had other plans. With each passing interview notice received by classmates and strangers on the internet but not me, my heart sank a little. No SF interviews. No California interviews. Only 1 west coast interview. It was like watching your dream fade away piece by piece yet there’s nothing you can do about it. I was watching my future slowly diverge from my carefully planned tracks. When match day came and I matched at Columbia, I it wasn’t unexpected but it still stung. I knew I should feel happy that I matched at all but I wasn’t. I tried my best to come to terms with it but the following weeks and and months weren’t any easier. First I find out that I would be going to NYC by myself and have to be a long distance relationship for at least a year. Then I find out that my housing application for a studio didn’t pan out and that I would instead be living with 2 randomly assigned roommates. Then 2 days after moving in I find out that housing made a mistake and gave me the wrong room and I had to move everything again by myself. It felt like every little concession I was willing to make in my plans was still not enough and life was just playing a cruel joke on me.

I remember sitting in the theater watching La La Land, a couple of weeks after match day, and sobbing uncontrollably at the epilogue where Mia imagines what her life would have been like had she stayed with Sebastian instead of going to Paris to pursue her acting career. I felt like I was at a similar crossroads in life, where I was forced to choose my career over love. While I knew that my relationship would be fine in the end, having to live on opposite coasts for a year was still a daunting prospect. Was it going to be worth it? Would I regret my decision down the road? There were so many regrets and doubts in my head. What if. If only. Maybe things would have turned out differently.

(At this point in my writing this, I went back and checked my past post almost a year ago and realized that I had already shared much of the same sentiment back then. I guess I’m still processing everything.)

As for how I’m doing now, well, I have good days and bad days. On the good days I’m happy; happy with my residency program, happy to be back in NYC, happy to have friends old and new in the city. On the bad days, sometimes bad in the way that only NYC bad days can be, I’m reminded again and again of everything that had led me here, so far away from where I thought I would be today, and my old wounds would be opened again. But the wound is getting smaller, and the good days outnumber the bad. I hope to one day look back and say to myself, everything happened for a reason, and things turned out the way they were meant to. I don’t feel remotely close to reaching that point yet, but one day, one day.

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