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Principles

Principles

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Blogs

I’ve been stepping outside of myself to look back on my first year at ICO from a different perspective. It has become something of a bi-yearly tradition for me to look back on my life and be embarrassed about how I’ve acted for the last couple of years. At this point, I expect my future self to continue being embarrassed no matter what I do.

Anyway. That’s not the point I’m trying to make.

I think I’ve done many things right at ICO, but there are also things that I could have handled with more tact or thoughtfulness. Thinking back has helped me realize that I didn’t need to do things differently; it was my attitude and perspectives that needed to adjust.

Attitude and perspective make a difference in everything you do. This is especially important when working with people. So, I’ve written down some principles. These are principles that would help all of us, especially professionals and soon-to-be-professionals.

Here they are:

  • I will not take things personally, even when it seems like I am being attacked. I will respect criticisms from others, no matter the content of their criticisms.
    This is important in a professional environment, especially as a student. It’s easy to be defensive about criticisms, but by dismissing the critiques, I am doing myself a disservice. I won’t be able to improve the weaknesses that other people see in me that I am unaware of.
  • I will be kind and I don’t expect people to like me for it. We need more kindness in our world. I’m a strong believer in being kind for the sake of being kind. It’s normal to expect others to reciprocate kindness with kindness, but that isn’t always the case – and you shouldn’t take that personally. Remember: the goal is kindness, not to boost my own ego.
  • I will always give people the benefit of the doubt, even when I am not given the same benefit. I have seen too many situations where assumptions have ruined relationships. Some would say that this point of view is too trusting. I realize that one day, someone may take advantage of my good will, but I am willing to make that trade to give honest people a chance. Call me an idealist. This principle is very similar to the second principle. There is a very thin line to walk between being trusting and having people take advantage of you, but in my experience, I have found that the vast majority of people reciprocate trust with trustworthiness.
  • I need to recognize that I’m needed in a supporting role more often than I’m needed in a starring role. This is especially true as a student. I am here to learn and cooperate with my colleagues, not to prove my intellect. This is a personal problem for me. My ego can become inflated sometimes.
  • I will admit when I am wrong. Ego and defensiveness do not make this easy. This is one of hardest things for anybody to do. It is also important to recognize that you can be completely humble and willing to admit mistakes in one area, and be completely obnoxious in another. I speak from personal experience.
  • I will learn from my mistakes. I realize that I will make many of them. This principle is important in order to become proficient in any field. Optometry is no exception.
  • I will respect my body and my health. The mind and body are connected. As a student who is constantly learning, I need to keep my mind sharp. To do that, I must keep my body strong and healthy. Time for a metaphor: anything can be used to make art, but having good tools makes it easier to make great art. Your body is the tool, optometry is your art. This isn’t completely necessary, but in a high stress environment with tests being thrown at you every other day, it’s important to stay in the best shape that you can.

These are principles that I try to follow everyday, but I do forget them – and I forget often, without something reminding me. I still struggle with them from time to time. They sound too idealistic for certain situations, but despite this, I have found that I never regret what I do when I follow them and I am always in a better situation, considering the alternatives.
I really hope that you consider adopting some or all of these principles on your own, and I hope you get as much out of them as I do.

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End of First Year

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Blogs

Things felt different when I finished that last exam.

The last exam of first year. We talked about it like it was some kind of rare and exotic animal, and in my opinion, it ended far too soon.

My step out of that exam room punctuated the end of the first chapter of my career at ICO. The next 24 hours felt like I was waking up from a dream that was desperately trying to teach me something. Now, I am reminded of the words I wrote those many months ago:

“Life is full of things that you can enjoy, and they are around you at this moment. Don’t wait until you lose what you have to treasure it.”

So right now, I’m in Chicago: home of the Bean, a skyline to die for, and great food.

I’m here, on my laptop, in a hotel room on Mother’s day, 500 miles away from home and reflecting on the last 9 months. That wasn’t the plan – but my flight got cancelled.

Before I left, I took a walk around ICO. The first time I walked the halls of the school, it was a maze to me. As I became better acquainted with it, ICO served as a backdrop for the theatre production of my life. And today, it was different. It felt like home. And I had taken it for granted – the same way I took Toronto for granted before I left in August.

When you first get here, people will tell you that “four years are going to pass by quickly.” You’ll hear it over and over again – and it’s said with good intentions. It’s meant to be comforting. People say it to remind you that the difficulties you’re facing as an optometry student will only last four years. You just have to hang in there! You can do it!!

But sometimes, people say that magic phrase to remind you to enjoy the moment. I’m beginning to appreciate that now.

This year has passed so, so quickly. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye, and it was so startling to me that I’ve already worried about having to leave my friends in a few years when I graduate.

This experience has changed me profoundly. I have made great friends and colleagues that I hope I will know for life. I’ve learned so much in the realm of academics, as well as personal relationships and life. I am grateful to have survived first year with a wonderful group of people – ICO’s class of 2018.

My biggest regret from the last 9 months is that it took me until the end of first year to realize that I should value the time we have together – as friends, colleagues, and as a class. And I am sorrier still, because I should have learned this lesson the first time around, when I left Toronto.

If I could go back to orientation week, I would have gone out with you guys a lot more. I would have made an effort to get to know you all better and earlier.

Take note, all of you first years who come after me. I know that it is difficult to realize it when you’re swamped by exams, practicals and your personal life, but this will end far faster than you expect it to. Make sure you appreciate the friends and people you have around you, because someday soon, you may not be able to spend time with them.

Man, I miss you guys already.

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Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Blogs

I’m going to write about a very touchy subject here.

I come from Toronto (in the magical land of Canada). Before I left, I spoke to my girlfriend about how hard it would be to maintain our relationship. I had heard from friends in optometry school that long distance relationships  were especially stressful in first year because of its difficulty. I wanted to make sure that we could work things out–that we would see each other as much as possible in between quarters and reunite at the end of these four years as if nothing had come between us.

When I left her the night before my plane took off, we both knew that it would be difficult. We felt we were ready to put in the necessary work to make things work.

A lot of people talk about how difficult it is to maintain a long distance relationship, but no one really talks about it in detail. A lot of long distance relationships work out–but for me, it hasn’t all gone according to plan.

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Do What You Love!

Do What You Love!

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Blogs

I’ve just eaten dinner and was about to start studying when I decided that I would rather spend my time writing. So I’m writing this. Even though I have an Optics test tomorrow at 8 a.m.

But I’ll explain why I’ve made that choice a little later.

My classmates and I have been at ICO for nearly four months now. The bright-eyed, naive idealists–who stepped onto the grounds of ICO as a group of strangers, hoping to learn as much about the world of optometry and to help as many people as possible–have disappeared.

Today, we are battle-worn. We know each other as well as only optometry students can know each other. Our bonds are strong, having been tempered by the difficulties and tribulations of professional school. We are like lost soldiers, depending only on each other as we struggle to survive in an endless desert of notes and diagrams of eyes. We climb sand dunes to find an ever-expanding desert of deadlines and test dates. And sometimes, among the sleepless nights spent fending off coyotes, whose only goal is to whittle our GPAs closer and closer to the cut-off point of failing a course, it seems like this desert will never end.

I may be exaggerating a bit here.

It’s not that bad…

No really, it isn’t. I’ve only had one all-nighter since I’ve been here–and that was because I had insomnia.

You’ll be fine, I promise.

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Professionalism and Uncertainty

Professionalism and Uncertainty

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Blogs

I’ve been at ICO for more than three months now. It’s been busy to say the least. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but here’s what a typical weekday is like for me. Keep in mind that this may vary slightly depending on the person:

First thing in the morning (aka waking up up 15-60 minutes before class/test)-4 p.m.

  • brush teeth
  • get dressed
  • (skip) breakfast
  • go to class
  • doze off in class
  • skip class to sleep
  • lunch
  • more class

4-6 p.m.

  • study in the library or study lounge
  • work out (sometimes)
  • dinner

8 p.m. and beyond

  • study some more OR
  • get fed up with studying and:
  • go downtown
  • OR browse the internet
  • go back to studying
  • ponder the meaning of existence
  • decompress with reading or more philosophical pondering

So yeah, that’s optom life.

But I’m not here to impress you my dedication or work ethic; everyone here learns all that stuff within the first two weeks of school. Don’t worry–if you’ve been accepted into ICO or any other professional school, you’ll make it to the end. Never doubt what you are capable of or let the pressure get to you…

I’ll probably write something about that later. This post is going in a different direction.

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