Since I was joining a new class, I knew this year would be somewhat awkward socially. My old friends from my previous class have been busy on the wards and on a totally different schedule, while many of my new classmates (and me, too!) rarely attend class and are stressed by our bi-weekly exams.
I started this year off on a pathetic note, smiling, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically, at any of my new classmates I would pass in the library. When that didn’t work, I started going to class, seeking human contact, even though I was a much more efficient studier listening to lecture on a faster speed on my own. And when that didn’t work, I isolated myself in my lone cubicle in the library, telling myself that maybe it wasn’t so bad not being best friends with everyone in my new class because I needed to focus on my work, while silently screaming, “BE MY FRIEND,” to the shelves of books containing journal articles in my midst.
Obviously, I’ve taken a bit of creative and exaggerating license here. But just when I was actually starting to feel somewhat isolated and like I was in a sad monogamous relationship with my laptop, something amazing happened: in the span of a week, a super nice girl in one of my small groups invited me to her house for a birthday party, I went hiking with a guy in my class I serendipitously ran into after an exam, and I made friends with another guy who is from Maryland, too. I’ve slowly learned that letting these new friendships develop naturally while also nurturing my relationships with my old friends is the best strategy to feel like I’m living a loved, balanced life. The people meant to play main characters in your life will find their way to you eventually; you just need to have a persistent and open heart.
Now, when I walk down the hallway of the college and hospital with my study buddy, Gustavo, he jokes at how “popular” I am because I now have friends in several classes to say hi to. Despite the initial bumps in the road I’ve had on this medical school journey, it does feel good to have so many people be my “people.”