Good For You

Learning to love what I most wished had not happened.

As the new year dawned, it offered me a quiet moment to look back on 2023—a year that was as beautiful as it was painful. The final stretch of 2022 was a testament to life's unpredictable nature, diverging sharply from the path I had envisioned for myself in various aspects, particularly in matching into fellowship. I had held a steadfast belief that reaching these milestones would be the cornerstone of a fulfilled life. With the purest of intentions, I chased these dreams, certain in the notion that their realization was synonymous with what would be good for me.

A few days before this year's match day, I found myself sharing reflections with my mother over the phone. I told her, with a sense of profound clarity, that regardless of the impending results, I was immensely grateful for the personal growth I had experienced throughout the year. The myriad of disappointments, heartbreaks, and obstacles had unexpectedly sculpted me into a person of greater depth and resilience. In these moments of reflection, I considered whether fulfilling my earlier aspirations would have led to the same personal growth I now valued so deeply. This introspection led me to a poignant realization: the milestones I believed were essential for my career and personal success, might not always align with what was truly good for me.

What exactly do I mean by this? Let me be clear: there's no question that matching into fellowship a year ago would have been advantageous for my professional journey. However, the reality of not matching turned out to be a blessing in disguise, fostering significant personal development within me. In this scenario, while the fellowship would have been good for my career, it wasn't necessarily what I needed for my personal growth. This distinction is critical, and it's something I've pondered since my initial reflection after not matching: the intersection of our identity and our achievements. We often blur the lines between what benefits our external selves—our careers, our reputations, our social standings—and what nurtures our internal selves. If our sense of self is tied too closely to these external accomplishments rather than to who we are at our core, we risk misjudging what is truly beneficial for us as individuals.

What implications does this realization hold for us? For me, embracing this new perspective has been crucial. It has allowed me to approach the past year with gratitude and to perceive growth in the face of adversity. Recognizing every disappointment as a catalyst for inner development was liberating; it helped me assert control over my life's direction. While we cannot dictate all that unfolds in our lives, especially factors that affect our external circumstances like career or personal success, we do have the autonomy to let these experiences refine us. Adopting this mindset shifts our role from being passive recipients of our fate to active shapers of our destiny. And with that, I will leave you with the empowering words from 'Invictus,' by William Ernest Henley:

It matters not how straight the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.