Every Sunday, as I sit at a desk in the library, or whatever other study space I have chosen for the day, I feel myself gripped by the familiar hands of overwhelm, as my mind whizzes, trying to decide which among my many tasks I should start first. My first year, I was ironically so distracted by the stress of having a billion tasks to do that I spent more time worrying than actually getting anything accomplished. Now, as a second year, I feel my gut clenching with panic as my thoughts bounce from the numerous assignments piling up in my classes, to decisions about my future – to a new and more existential question crawling into my head: What am I going to do with my life?
Now, as a second year, I feel my gut clenching with panic as my thoughts bounce from the numerous assignments piling up in my classes, to decisions about my future – to a new and more existential question crawling into my head: What am I going to do with my life?
The time has come for me to decide my major and to get involved in more extracurricular activities so that I impress grad schools and/or med schools – who knows which. I still don’t know what I'll do after undergrad (yet another thing to think about). There are so many new responsibilities of adulthood to adjust to. Going to the grocery store every Sunday to buy food for the week and making time in my schedule to prepare meals…it was so much easier first year, when I could grab a quick bite to eat at the dining hall or Crossroads. Today, my mind is too cluttered with thoughts, and it all seems simply too much to get any work done at all.
I prefer to zone out instead. I stare at the golden patch of sunlight illuminating the honey-colored desk I sit at. I follow the beam of light out the window and catch sight of a tree branch extending from the tree that grows against the side of the building. Sitting on the branch is a ladybug, so small I barely notice. The bright sun reflects off its red back spotted with black dots. Its wings flicker slightly as it decides whether or not to release the grip of its black legs from the branch and take off into flight. I find myself gazing at this ladybug with envy as it rests calmly, without a care in the world. I seem to have all the cares in the world. I wish I were a ladybug. It doesn't have a major to declare, classes to study for, a job, or a future to think of. With so little to be concerned about, its life seems so simple. Just a little bug whose only responsibility is to make people think they’re lucky when they see it.
I follow the beam of light out the window and catch sight of a tree branch extending from the tree that grows against the side of the building. Sitting on the branch is a ladybug, so small I barely notice.
As I sit, a little brown bird swoops in, shaking the branch as it lands – startling the ladybug, who flaps its wings and flies away. I want the freedom those wings bring, to simply drift through the air and not worry about what comes next. I look back at my desk and all the assignments to finish and emails to send and internships to research. Where are my wings? What will be the vessel to free me from all these worries?
What if I were a ladybug?
Sitting on a branch which grows against the side of a building, staring into a window as I watch a forlorn-looking girl stare into space. My wings flutter as I decide whether or not to take off into flight, constantly on edge, constantly fighting for survival, always looking over my shoulder to make sure I am not overtaken by a bigger and more frightening beast. At once, a large, dark shape obstructs the sun that was bathing my red back. A giant bird swoops onto the branch and I startle, suddenly taking off into flight to escape my imminent peril. Time to find a new branch to sit on. I fly in search of a safe space where I can rest without fear of threat to my life.
I am not a ladybug. I am more than just a creature who lives for survival and warmth, however lulling it may seem to me in the moment. I have a passion. Passion I feel when I meet someone who loves medicine or literature as much as I do. When we talk about helping patients, or what makes a piece of poetry so moving, I feel an electric sensation bubbling up inside of me – making me want to run, not away from but towards my future, towards accomplishing the things I can’t wait to do. Yes, at times I feel so lost it's as if I am a bug being blown through a storm with no direction. But when I think about my first year I realize my life right now is taking a clearer, more fully-formed shape. Despite all the tasks and overwhelm, all the messes of life I must battle, I now know what I love, and I choose to hold on to that, as it lifts me above the clouds, like a pair of wings.
I am not a ladybug. I am more than just a creature who lives for survival and warmth, however lulling it may seem to me in the moment.