Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
– Henry David Thoreau
Long time no see!
I was a little hesitant to start writing this blog post but since it was highly requested I decided to go ahead and do it anyway.
Some time ago I felt like I wanted to become more authentic on social media. I didn’t only want to show the fancy looking holidays or the days where my outfit is on point. That might also be inspirational or nice to look at, but I just feel like it doesn’t spread the deep and inspiring message I would like to spread to the world.
So here I am… I am probably going to talk about one of the moments in my life which were the most confusing for myself as a person.
I know this post will make me a little vulnerable and open to criticism and prejudgements (also because I haven’t gone through the BEST medical school journey there is; which is one that is without any breaks or delays and that could affect the way people look at me).
However, that is okay. Why does your journey need to be perfect? We are all human beings and we don’t need to pretend as if we have it all together all the time.
That’s not a healthy attitude in life and that’s certainly not the attitude needed in modern medicine.
If you have read PART 1, you have read about how I initially got into medicine.
I already wanted to become a doctor since a very young age, so it wasn’t an impulsive decision, it was something I wanted to become for many years.
I first did a year in the French speaking university and it was a very enriching experience.
After that, I was accepted in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium and I chose the university KU Leuven.
From the moment I first partied there, I was in love with the city. I knew this was the city where I wanted to spend my students life: everywhere you looked, there were students and there were so many activities and parties to do.
I knew this would be fun!
I started the first year in Leuven with lots of enthusiasm.
I was studying everyday as much as possible, I never skipped any classes and I partied every week with my friends at the time.
I think you can say I experienced the real students life, next to all the studying, I also spend a lot of time in my social life.
The results of the first year were also excellent, I passed all my exams with a very high score.
I was so motivated to succeed because I knew I wanted to specialize in a specific department and I knew I had to have high grades otherwise I would never be able to enter that specialization.
However, the last exam of that year didn’t go without any problems…
A few days before the exam, I started to have blurry sight followed with lots of eye pain.
I kept studying through the pain until the exam was over and didn’t think much about it for the whole summer.
A new academic year started and the blurry sight and eye pain started popping up again.
I remember my dad having the same problem when he was in university. He was ‘lucky’ in the sense that he was in his last year when these problems started popping up. He finished his studies due to audio recordings of his courses.
My family was scared I had to give up my study because I was still in the beginning of it and it would be a though road to study everyday for many years with audio recordings because my eyes wouldn’t be able to handle hours of reading.
It was a very mentally though period because I was full of anxiety because of it. I wasn’t able to study properly as I used to and medicine is pretty though in terms of studying.
It requires hours and hours of studying behind a desk and if your eyes just can’t handle that intensity, then I would say that it is a very big problem.
I used to go from eye doctor to eye doctor and from hospital to hospital to see what was wrong with me.
I did a lot of tests but they said they couldn’t really see what the problem was based on the tests.
One eye doctor concluded that my pain was probably psychosomatic due to stress but that advice didn’t help me either (also I feel like doctors are using this type of diagnosis way too soon whenever they can’t find anything! Remember, just because something can’t be found, doesn’t mean you are just imagining some pain. Medicine/science isn’t exhaustive.).
Another doctor said she could see a little deviation which caused strabismus.
After that, I tried every single method to treat this so called ‘strabismus’ but it didn’t help at all.
I even bought a beamer in the hope that the distance would make it less tiring for my eyes. Did you ever see a person studying their course in front of a wall? :p
It looks special I must say… 😉
My last savior was a software on my laptop that would read my courses out loud so that I didn’t have to read it and therefore didn’t have to tire my eyes.
This last method I used for months and it was horrible but I wouldn’t give up. 😉 That’s not me! I wouldn’t give up everything I worked for the last few years.
At some point in one exam period, things got a lot worse.
I was so scared to having to stop my studies or not, because I was just in too much pain to study and all my methods didn’t work as good as it should (or not always as efficient).
I decided to try out ANOTHER eye doctor and she proposed other type of glasses for me. That solution did work to a certain extent and I could study again without having to use sound only!! It was still not 100% perfect but I succeeded to work with these restrictions.
This ‘eye problem’ mentally drained me at the time; studying turned into a fight for months in a row. It was horrible to live with the fact that they didn’t have a decent solution for me all this time.
I also do believe there are still some improvements to be made in the field of medicine and we as doctors should acknowledge that there are probably still some diseases or symptoms we can’t always find.
What I do think is important, is to NOT directly classify some symptoms as psychosomatic when you can’t detect the cause immediately.
I know I won’t make the same mistake at least in the future. 😉
However, I think the fact that the daily studying turned into fighting, left me pretty tired of studying at a certain point.
That’s why I took a small break from medicine and decided to start with some projects I always wanted to do when I was younger…
It’s important you don’t lose track of all of your dreams in life and you should always pursue them no matter what. I know I always was a girl full of dreams, but when I was younger I didn’t have the same courage to pursue them.
I was full of unfulfilled dreams and desires and I felt like it was the right time to pursue them.
I wanted to take a break of medicine and explore the world… Explore myself.. <3
All my life I had been doing ‘the right thing’. The things that other people approved of.
Don’t get me wrong, getting into medicine was my OWN choice and my family never pressured me into anything. I always wanted to become a doctor, but that doesn’t mean that it was my only dream to be fulfilled. 😉
As I said before in part 1 of my medical school journey, I didn’t feel happy in high school.
I felt isolated for a big part of the time and even though I wanted to go out and have fun, that just wasn’t an option.
Next to that, I suffered from a very low self-esteem and even if I would have had the opportunity to fulfill my dreams, I would have been too scared to do it.
After high school, I spent most of the time studying and that’s why I also didn’t really experience a lot of other things next to the weekly parties.
I said to myself, why not do something crazy and that’s how I got into the pageant scene.
I don’t know if going into pageantry was a dream of myself, but I was always mesmerized by the beautiful gowns and I love being on stage.
It was also my way of experiencing something totally different in my life, maybe an act of rebellion towards my direct environment that is rather conservative (they didn’t approve of this initiative at all!).
Anyway, what an adventure that was!! I documented a little bit of my adventures in this blog (that’s actually how this blog started initially!!).
However, because of the pageants I had the opportunity to go to Poland and Slovakia to represent my country in the worldwide pageant of Miss Supranational. For me it was always about the experience, I just love to discover life and to have one experience after the other.
BUT that obviously comes with a price…
In my heart I felt like there wasn’t a lot of room for studying and maybe I also just didn’t feel like it at the time.
As I said before, I had been fighting and working so much, I felt like it was time for something else.
I needed to explore the world, not locking myself up in my room to study.
That’s why I stopped studying full time there and I focused completely on all of the adventures I was blessed to experience.
Right after the pageants, my Instagram page started blowing up and so did my blog…
To be honest, (fashion) blogging was one of my dreams when I was younger even before I said I wanted to become a doctor. I am not going to lie about that.
As a young girl that wasn’t very confident at the time (I didn’t think I was pretty enough to be in front of the camera and make pics of myself all the time… Typical self-conscious teenage girl, yes!), it was a big step to make a blog and put myself out there.
What would people say? Would they think it is ridiculous? Would they laugh with me? What if people don’t like it?
It is all these type of fears and thoughts that inhibit people to follow their dreams, their true self and their desires. <3
I think it was because of getting into the pageant scene and having to go against the flow and the critics of my decisions, that I got the power and confidence to start with fashion blogging.
I don’t think I would have had otherwise…
The first 2 years of blogging, I invested a lot of energy in blogging and in my Instagram. My follower count went up exponentially and I spent my time traveling the world whenever I had the time and money while making pictures in the outfits I planned.
That’s what I loved to do…
At a certain point, I even started to get paid for making pictures and blog posts.
What actually happens when your childhood dream comes true is that you are getting into a sort of identity crisis.
Yes, that’s exactly what it felt like.
Don’t get me wrong, medicine was a childhood dream too but because of the eye pain and all the struggling, I started to resent it.
I suddenly started to get confused about the decisions I made in my life.
At a certain point, I just felt so lost.
I started asking myself questions like ‘Who am I?’, What is the purpose of my life?’ and ‘What will make me happy in life?’.
I started isolating myself more and more. I tried to avoid seeing people and family because they were just pressuring me to make decisions and to speed up my process of finding myself.
All of my life I had been conditioned by society, friends and family what a perfect life looks like.
But what is that, a perfect life?
A perfect life isn’t this picture perfect vision that society creates for you. It is what society and your direct environment have been brainwashing you from the very little moment you were born.
Also, your direct environment have been brainwashed too, actually.
They just aren’t conscious of that fact.
You know what a perfect life really consists of?
It is you living your life with passion and joy.
In the end, the ultimate goal is to find inner peace within yourself and you will only find that, when your daily reality becomes in alignment with your TRUE SELF and your TRUE PATH.
I spent days alone in my apartment reading a lot of books related to self- development and spirituality.
It’s only in pure isolation without any distraction from other people, that you start to get a clear view on things.
I knew I also needed time and no pressure and so I took the time it needed.
It was a very hard period because I felt so alone and misunderstood in the process.
I continued blogging and posting on Instagram at the same time and I remember feeling confused about what to say about it.
I didn’t want anyone to know about my confusion in life or my identity crisis.
Months went by and the path that I was destined to take in life became so much more clear.
I didn’t need to change direction, I just needed time.
I needed time to take a step back for a while and discover who I really was and what I wanted in my life. What did the inner child in myself really want? You know the self before conditioning of society. I used my time to reflect on that.
I would really suggest to take a break in life to anyone who is struggling with a type of identity crisis.
You don’t need to hurry in life, you need to be sure of what you want in life and if that process will take you a month, 3 months or a year, that doesn’t matter at all!
Also, never forget to listen to your inner voice. It’s the ultimate guidance in life.
I can proudly say I don’t regret any of the decisions I made the last couple of years and that’s because I followed my inner voice. Always.
And that’s where you will find your true self and true happiness and fulfillment.
As a doctor I hope to give these types of messages to my patients one day.
I think teaching patients these types of lessons in life can be a big add on next to the advice to heal the physical body. <3
That’s where I will end this long blog post…
Thanks for reading.
Have a great day and remember: Let all that you do be done with love!