It’s quiet in the house but for the entanglement of voices from Billy’s shower music crooning through the bathroom walls. I got home a few hours ago. The heating has been on for an hour to melt the evening’s gentle spring chill and my bedroom smells of vanilla, orchids and a pleasant hint of worn perfume. I’m sitting alone in bed, exhausted, nursing a hot chocolate, lingering over the sensation of sheer presence. Tomorrow, I sit my medical school finals.
Paradoxically, this is also, quite honestly, the most underprepared I have ever felt for an exam in my entire life. Normally, I would be in a state of total panic stricken anxiety. But not tonight.
I can hardly believe that a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know if I would be able to sit these exams. My confidence was at such an all time low, hanging itself on morsels of papers, dictated entirely by the results of exams long gone. The girl who wrote reams of notes, studied each them at least three times over and learned every detail with admirable thoroughness seems to be a shadow of the person I feel as though I am now.
I have never been more grateful for this change in perception.
The way my thoughts spiralled out of control in that fortnight from hell felt terrifying. I realised then that I couldn’t let them become bigger than me, control me or dictate the way I felt about myself. Every day since the weekend where I went home and decided to get better, not only have I been channelled my efforts into revision; I have also pushed myself to change the way I think and behave. Each day I’ve stuck to a tight, grounding routine involving self-care, praying regularly and phoning my parents daily. With each relapse into catastrophic thinking, I have broken down thoughts, emotions and feelings, tracking them back to where they originated and rationalising them to created healthier automated responses. I have gone from feeling worthless and as if there is simply no point in life- to focusing on small tasks and rediscovering purpose. I have gone from letting depressive thoughts eat me up, to recovering in hours, to recovering in minutes.
I’ve reconnected with my faith and understood myself in deeper ways than I thought possible. I have learnt that to pray to God with intent is to access a part of me that is infinite love and wisdom and devoid of ego.
I have found happy places in my mind. I have found sources of strength in moments of crisis.
All whilst revising for my finals.
The headspace I am mentally occupying now is totally different. I look around me and I know that other people have worked harder than me, for longer than me and are more prepared for tomorrow’s exam than me. I don’t know all the facts in my files the way I would have known them if this was any other year. But the thing is… none of it matters.
See, what I have learnt the most over these past few weeks is that I am on my own personal journey. This journey is completely different to that of those around me. We may be sitting the same exam tomorrow, but we are all on different life paths, so comparing where I am to where the girl in the exam hall next to me is is futile. This is something that pre-breakdown Gowri would never have understood.
How far I have come mentally and emotionally in this months is immeasurable on paper. I’m in a better place. And meanwhile, the crazy hours I have put in over the last few weeks will somehow channel their way into my thought processes tomorrow as I look at the paper in front of me, mentally walking through each question. And ultimately, whatever the outcome may be from this set of exams, at the end of the day… they are just exams. If I pass, that’ll be wonderful. If I don’t… I’ll just be even better rehearsed for a resit.
That journey, the personal journey that I have been living through has opened my eyes to a world where my own self-worth is completely separate to my exam performance. So tonight I’m not panicking. Tonight, I am contemplating that my re-established faith in God, the universe and myself will manifest in ways that will only ever be beneficial to me.
Let’s see what happens tomorrow.