On finding the positives in the negatives

Avery Haugen
June 29, 2016

I should remind you, as I was reminded myself, that these seven weeks are far from an easy, breezy, luxurious vacation to South America for the summer. Part of me took for granted that I had the freedom to do as I pleased, when I pleased, and just because I pleased. This week, however, the class work has successfully inundated me. There is a paper due tomorrow as well as a test in my public health class, then a 10 minute presentation due the following day. None of that exceeds normal academic year weekly requirements except that the due dates fall in June, not the normal academic year. In conjunction with larger assignments, I have regular homework which includes reading, comprehension questions, and the occasional political or health related video. Furthermore, I have an unrelenting to do list that truly grows in my sleep. Perhaps that is an exaggeration however today after sending emails about my future job this year, figuring out how to sign up for the MCAT, responding to questions from people interested an organization I work for, and unpacking from a (very dusty) long weekend in the Atacama desert, at least 15 more items still remain on the aforementioned list. Also, an article I read today reminded me that I shouldn’t be on my computer for up to 2 hours before I go to sleep because it disrupts my circadian rhythm, yet here I am at almost 1 in the morning before class, writing on my laptop. I had planned to catch up on sleep this weekend but I suppose I have to leave that on the to do list for next weekend… Make that at least 16 items now.

So what is the moral of all of this?

Not a rant, not a complaint, but rather a sincere reminder that we do things for a reason. There is a part of me that wants to ignore every single thing on that list and that I have mentioned so far. I don’t want to do school work, I don’t want to think about what I am doing next year, and no, I really don’t want to sit through an hour long test in June tomorrow. So the real question becomes why. Why am I doing it all anyway?

A funny picture my mom once sent me showed a dog holding its own leash with the caption “this is what being adult feels like”. I think whoever created that has a cynical sense of humor. We would likely get along well. Being responsible and taking care of yourself is far from easy, as the picture so appropriately demonstrated. Long gone are the days of packed lunches and parents tucking you in at night. The truth is, there are a lot of things that don’t instantly appeal to us that we do anyway. The thing we must remind ourselves is that we do them for a reason. There is a REASON we do them. Why did I come here? I came to Santiago with the intentions of working, observing, living, doing, trying, laughing, traveling, studying. Yes, even studying. What do I get out of studying? I grow. I learn. I could talk your ear off about the Chilean healthcare system, better yet, I could do it in fluent Spanish. I will gladly sit down and have a chat about the pros and cons of public versus private care, how health insurance works, the similarities and differences between the United States’ and Chilean systems, the toughest health related debates in Chile, and about the guaranteed health rights here in Chile for all people. If you’re interested, let’s do it sometime. When my plane landed here over a month ago, there is not a chance I could do any of that, let alone in coherent Spanish. So when I say there is always a reason, what I mean is that a positive does emerge from the negative. I have to be reminded of it, but I believe we all do every so often. Why does checking something off that to-do list feel so good? Because we did something, we saw it through to completion! 

Being an adult is hard, we all know this, and I haven’t even started paying bills yet. Tomorrow, though, when I get thank you responses from the questions I answered today, when I have clean laundry from this weekend’s activities, when I ace that test with all of the knowledge I have gained from studying, it will all be worth it.

But really, why am I doing it all anyway? Because someday, years from now, I will look back on my experiences without regret. The MCAT that I sign up for that ultimately shapes my future medical career, the public health class I study for in Chile that has made me rethink and re-confirm why I want to become a doctor, the work and time I’m devoting to better my Spanish that has and will continue to broaden my horizons and opportunities, and the 60 hours of clinical observation over 5 weeks that has revealed the many different faces of medicine to me will all help me get there. Down the road, when I am able to treat a patient to the best care because of what I learned and what I poured into working, observing, living, doing, trying, laughing, traveling, and studying all those years before, it really truly will all have been worth it.

Those are my reasons. What are yours?


Avery Haugen

<p>Hi everyone! Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime with me in Santiago, Chile! I am a biochemistry and Spanish double major from Dallas, Texas who loves horseback riding and playing polo. I also love plane rides, spending time outside, cooking (or at least attempting to), reading, trying new teas, petting animals, and watching old movies. I have traveled a lot in Spanish-speaking countries and pretty much nowhere else, currently working on a travel bucket list to at least 3 more continents.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Texas Christian University
Biological Chemistry
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