Striking the Balance

‘Live a life you love’

Throughout this academic year, I was asked by several people as to how I managed to balance Medicine and Dance the way I did. So here is my answer to those questions.

It’s very easy to stay in the safe zone because of the fear of trying new things out and the challenges they may bring. But this year, with the support of my best friend, I knew I could and would push myself in every avenue.

Medicine brings out my love for learning, and dance brings out my love for performing, choreographing and teaching. Therefore I know that I will work hard to make sure I grew in both areas the way I wanted to.

Several people around me probably thought I was not doing much Medicine this year because I spent so much time doing dance performances and competitions: this includes my family and friends. Oh trust me the number of people who came up to me saying, ‘Praveena, do you even do medicine?’.

When people around me made me question my own abilities to focus on both and succeed in both, the one person who stood by me and pushed me was my best friend. All he said was, ‘If you want to do it, do it. I know you will study hard regardless. And I will be here to support you whatever happens.’ What seemed like the simplest of things, had the biggest impact on me. No one had ever said that to me before, and that’s when I knew that I would be able to do it.

This whole journey came with one big sacrifice: my social life. Yes, I stopped meeting my friends as often and I stopped going out as much. When I had rehearsals for 6 months non-stop, it did exhaust me. I suffered quite a few dance injuries, I was tired. The limited amount of energy I had, I had to reserve for Medicine. Regardless, I stayed strong and pushed through.

I stopped believing in ‘studying’ or ‘revision’; instead I focused all my energy on ‘learning’. I wanted to learn because I loved learning and not because I had to pass exams, although this was naturally a by-product of it. There is no end-point to learning, especially in Medicine. I created my own system of learning and I enjoyed it. In the last month leading up to exams, I remained calm and I opened a book, to learn. I am not going to deny the last minute stress of having to cram bits and bobs because obviously I had an exam that I had to get through, but trust me, I have been in worse scenarios before.

I say all of this because I used to be that medical student who stressed a lot about passing exams and I forgot to enjoy the fact that I am learning some amazing material about the most complex machine in this world – the human body. This year, that changed for me a lot. I saw some peers around me stress the way I used to, and here I was, sat calmly taking every fact/concept I learnt in, and cherishing it. And for this reason, this exam period was the most enjoyable one for me so far, and that reflected in my approach to the exams and my results.

I would like to conclude by honing in on two of the most important take home messages of this blog: firstly, do not be the type of person to stop yourself from doing things you love because you fear the consequences. Secondly, enjoy the process of learning; do not waste your energy stressing so much about the exams that you forget to enjoy the process of learning.

I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone that with the right mind-set you can explore multiple avenues all at the same time and succeed in it as well. I have one more year of university left. I can assure you that I will not stop learning and I will not stop dancing. Every problem I face, I will take as a challenge to help myself grow further.

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