Well, now that my first semester of medical school is over, I can look back and tell myself, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” In actuality, it was very hard; one of the hardest things I have ever done. And that was just semester one. I still have ten more to go. So when I think about how hard it was to just get through one class, it’s even harder to convince myself that I can get through next semester, where I have 10 classes. And then another semester after that. And then boards. And then residency. It’s extraordinarily overwhelming at times to think of everything I still have yet to even begin, and all that I must do if I want to become a doctor. So this brings me to the title, “wiggle your big toe.”
The line is from the Tarantino movie Kill Bill vol. 1. The main character has just woken up from a several-year coma and wants to get revenge on whoever put her in it; however, being bed ridden for so long, she can’t walk. So, while sitting there, she reminds herself that she has so much she has to do for herself, but first thing is first: she needs to wiggle her big toe. She can and will accomplish everything she wants to, but she needs to be able to walk. And before she can walk, she needs to wiggle her big toe.
For better or worse, I often resort to movie or book characters when in need of inspiration, and this part of the movie really spoke to me these last few month. You really have to dive right into medical school, which can make it extremely daunting at first, which is why it is so necessary to try to focus on little bits at a time. It is always important to remember the big picture; you are here to become a doctor. But in order to do that you have to pass this one class, and to pass this class, you have to do well on this test. And now that I’m finally into the swing of things, the big picture doesn’t seem so daunting to accomplish.
My very first week, I was terrified at the amount of information I was expected to cover. Now that I just finished my last anatomy test, I thought 750 pages of material were totally reasonable for two weeks of studying. This transformation seems absurd to me still, that somehow I find myself capable of doing more in a week than I used to do in a semester of undergrad. It is because I able to just focus on one impossible task at a time, take everything day by day, and not let the big picture immobilize me from accomplishing the little things I need to do.
So now, I’ve passed anatomy. I have one semester of med school under my belt. I have discovered I can do this, no matter how hard it seems at times. And no matter what, I know the most important thing is to concentrate on the task at hand, without losing sight of the bigger picture. If I take it one test at a time for long enough, the tests will be over and I will be a doctor.
I have wiggled my big toe. The hard part is over. Now lets get these other piggies wiggling.