I thought this day would never come. With the end of first year near, it’s always interesting to look back at where you started. This year has been, without a doubt, the most difficult year of my entire life- graduate school being the least of it.
At the beginning of the year, I received a gift. I had no idea it was coming, but as I sit here now and reflect, it was exactly what I needed. I received a watch from my close friend, and was floored upon opening it. The thing that stunned me the most was not the luxurious time piece that lay before me, but the words on the card that came along with it:
“I know time will fly for you, but I hope this gift will help you remember to slow down and enjoy every minute.”
Looking back now, what I did not realize was that I was physically given the gift of time; as if time was an object, easily packaged to offer. Time was given to me in various disguises throughout my first year at ICO. From a big picture perspective, I was given the time I needed in order to focus on myself and pursue my dream of optometry. With the heavy school load and busy schedule, I was given roughly ten months without a chance to leave often, where I was forced to find what motivates me to follow my passion. I continued to grow as an individual with each passing week, day, and minute.
Two weeks into graduate school, finding out my mom was diagnosed with cancer was the epitome of a rough start. Over the course of my ten months at ICO, I feel like I was given the fortunate gift of time- in the form of many more days with my mom. Even since the diagnosis and her road to recovery, I still am forever thankful for the continued days I get to hear “I love you” from her, or the constant support I receive from her from afar. This may be the form of ‘time’ I am most thankful for.
I was the recipient of the time needed to grow new friendships and relationships with doctors and students at ICO. This would have never been possible if it weren’t for that exact moment in time, where everything fell in place for me to meet each and every one them. I was fortunate with many hours of laughter, tears and more emotions than you can imagine, with my two incredible roommates. I was given many hours of stress, heartache, and pressure to do well, but it only made me stronger. I was given many days of illness, and although my body felt defeated in these moments, it gave me a reason to slow down, and taught me to not take the healthy days for granted.
As the days passed, I was continuously given time- more time than I ever even wanted. It taught me to be patient and not rush the week ahead or the current day, just to get an exam completed or a ‘check off’ in my planner.
As the year comes to a close, it is clear to me that each and every moment was perfectly laid out better than I could have ever planned for myself. With all the knowledge that I have accumulated over this school year, and all the many lessons I have learned, I could not be more thankful for the time that I have spent here at ICO. The students at ICO know how precious the gift of time actually is, and we all know that even though we are given four years to complete our degree, that time goes incredibly fast. As the first, second and third years are all itching to fast forward in order to hear the word “doctor” before their name, the fourth years have almost made it. I think it is safe to say in the words of Tolstoy,
“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience,”
To those of you who may perhaps join us here at ICO in the future, and those already enduring the long (but very rewarding) journey to become an optometrist, I leave you with this:
Make every minute count.