Choices and Sacrifice

To be honest, these past few months have been the most challenging of my life.

It’s not that the curriculum at ICO has been challenging – I mean, it is, and it has always been, but that’s not the problem. It is the choices I make in trying to balance my health, my interests, school, and the rest of my life that have been a challenge.

There was a time in my life where I could summarize my responsibilities in one sentence: go to school and don’t fail. It was even better if I could do well in school. As long as I remembered that simple mantra and followed through, I could spend as much time playing video games as I wanted. I could draw as much as I wanted. I could do anything with my free time. The world was my oyster. It was simple.

But when I decided to accept a seat in ICO’s class of 2018, I had unknowingly accepted responsibilities that my future self would have to be… well, responsible for. It’s starting to sink in now. Those responsibilities have been passed to me by my younger self. I’m not a kid anymore. In less than three years, I’m going to be a medical professional.

It’s time to grow up, even if I’m not ready for it.

What I’m learning at ICO is what I’ll be using when I’m a practicing optometrist. I can’t afford to do a mediocre job anymore, especially if I want to live up to the expectations and standards that I’ve set for myself. With only 24 hours in a day, that means that I can’t pursue all of the things that I’m passionate about. I didn’t realize that it would take such a large time investment at first, but I’ve gone too far in this race to turn back now. There is too much at stake and I can’t afford to pursue dreams when reality is staring at me like a starving beast. I have to take this seriously now, and the only reasonable choice is to finish this. I enjoy the work anyway, so it’s not like it’s all bad.

The simple truth that I’ve come to grudgingly accept is this: I want to do it all, but I can’t.

As much as I like to be an optimist, maybe this is what being an adult is all about – knowing what to sacrifice for what matters. Time is limited. We simply can’t do everything. That means that sometimes, you have to let things go.

I’ve had to make choices. Tough choices. I’ve chosen optometry over many of the things that I cared about – and many people have been in the same position as I am. It’s not easy – not just because there’s a lot of work, but because you have to give up things that you truly care about. Even if it’s only temporary, it doesn’t make it any easier.

I came to ICO for a reason, and it’s easy to forget that at times. I just have to keep reminding myself.

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