If I would be asked to choose one identifier for myself, I'd pick "bookworm" in a heartbeat. No brainer. I AM a bookworm and I love that about myself. There's just something to be said about lounging around all day with a book in hand, casually turning page after page, getting lost in your own little world between the pages of a new (or even a well-loved favorite) book.
I arrived back in Manila last Thursday from a two-week long excursion. I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed for the first time in almost two weeks. But the commotion at Padre Faura kept me waaaaay up late into the night. I live along Pedro Gil. Imagine how loud the noise must have been if it kept me up all night up in my 20th floor unit.
I dismissed my irritation and decided to leave it at that. For the next few days, all I heard on the news and all I saw on my feed are common sentiments of disapproval regarding the INC's highly disruptive demonstrations resulting in hundreds (if not thousands) of disgruntled motorists along the city's major thoroughfares (mainly EDSA) and even posts on UPManila's public grievance page (UPM Files) describing how the demonstrations at Faura were enough to cause class suspensions! Which surprised me a great deal given that as a UPM alumna myself, class suspensions were a rare occurrence in UPM. Bumaha, bumagyo, MAY PASOK. What's worse is that I realized how even the Philippine General Hospital's out-patient department must have also been affected since it's located right across the DOJ!
Okay, I said to myself. Everyone's already arguing about this. Don't add more fuel to the flame. I was content to do just that when I realized that as an Iskolar ng Bayan, I shouldn't keep mum about an issue that affects the country... and not just because some people caused heavy traffic along EDSA.
In a nutshell, the INC is protesting the government's role in the prosecution of some of it's leaders. They cry for a separation of Church and State which is well within their rights. But the thing is, what they're protesting and asking for is way beyond just the separation of Church and State. Basically, what they are demanding from Sec. De Lima is to somehow absolve their leaders from legal action against them. That is NOT what the separation of Church and State is about. What they are doing is essentially a bunch of intimidation tactics to force Sec. De Lima and anyone else holding position in the government to butt out of their issues. Which is wrong on soooo many levels. The fact is: being a part of a religious sect DOES NOT make anyone above the jurisdiction of the law. I commend Sec. De Lima for standing her ground on this issue and upholding the law of the land.
Forget the issues about the garbage dumped along the streets of Manila. Heck, forget about even the horrible traffic situation along EDSA. What matters here is that these people occupying the city's streets are fighting and clamouring for something they do not fully understand, led on by manipulative leaders who prey on their constituents' blind faith.
One of my Facebook friends posted something that I think would end all arguments: [non-verbatim] YOUR RIGHTS END WHEN YOU START TO IMPINGE ON SOMEBODY ELSE'S. It's the INC's right to speak up and let their voice be heard, there's no question about that. But what makes this situation so backwards is that they do it so that their leaders may be safe from the legal ramifications of their actions. This is unconstitutional in the sense that there is a RIGHT TO EQUALITY. Every constituent of this country is subject to its justice system, bar none. By asking the government to drop the charges against their leaders and let them handle their issues internally, the INC is fundamentally stepping on every Filipino citizen's basic HUMAN right.
Article Six of the UN Declaration of Human Rights says:
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Simply, all it implies is that if you've done NOTHING wrong, (whatever your race, religion, gender, beliefs, or alliances may be), then you have nothing to fear from the law. BUT if you have been accused of defying the laws that govern this nation, then (whatever your race, religion, gender, beliefs, or alliances may be) then you are also subject to the country's justice system.
They say "alone" isn't always synonymous with "lonely." But did it ever occur to any one that being in the company of other people does not necessarily mean that you're any less lonely than if you've only got yourself for company?
Humans are inherently social beings. Human behavior is something that we touched and tackled during my undergraduate studies. And I remember reading this particular quote from Atul Gawande during one of my late-night research binges for an assignment we had.
"Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people."
The days are now starting to bleed into each other. And now, 1 month, 9 days, 8 hours after I walked across that stage at the Philippine International Convention Center to receive my diploma, all I can think is that: GRADUATION IS OVERRATED.
If you asked me two months ago, I would've told you that I wanted nothing more than to leave college behind and finally take control of my life. I was so done with internship. So done with exams. So done with all-nighters and highlighters running low. Oh, to be that young again! If only I knew how absolutely terrifying it is be the captain of my own ship. Write your own destiny, they say. That sounds all well and good... only if you have the courage to do so.
And right now, my courage levels are just about the same as a cotton ball.
Staring down the rest of my life is daunting. This might just be the scariest thing I have done in my entire life. All the choices that we are forced to make right now may decide what we make of our careers. If that isn't scary enough, I don't know what is. I remember writing a blog post almost two years ago about fear. In that post, I asked myself what I was most afraid of and surprisingly, I didn't have a ready answer. If only I could say the same now.
I realized that being thrust into the "real" world, left untethered, floating in a sea of uncertainty... that is my greatest fear. And right now, that fear has become all too real. And it is every bit as scary as I imagined it would be.
Making something out of my life requires overcoming that fear and actually doing something worthwhile and productive. I know that I did not spend the last four years of my life inching towards my diploma for nothing. However, that doesn't make the struggle any less daunting. In fact, it only serves to put added pressure on me to make my diploma something more than a fancy piece of paper.
Another reason why everything feels so scary is that everything is so uncertain. For most of my life, I lived by the solid structure and routines of a student. Wake up, go to school, go home, sleep, lather, rinse, repeat. Simple. Straightforward. Nothing like the mess I make of my hours these days. As a student, I had a clear-cut goal which was to graduate on time. I did and for that I'm eternally grateful. Throughout college, we were often asked where we see ourselves in the future. I've always been confident that I'd become a practicing occupational therapist and then pursue continuing education later on. What I did not anticipate was how futile it was. Get a job? Come on. Even I should have known how vague that was. And now I'm smack dab in planning what to do next and all I have are vague ideas about what I want and where I want to be. I need to get some focus back into my life to see where I'm headed. I've come so far and I'll be damned if I fail now.
Maybe I'll take a hint from one of my professors and go on my own soul-searching trip.
It’s May 2nd… a few more weeks to go and we’d finally be marching out of PICC, our sablay in place, and with our hard-earned diplomas firmly in hand. But getting from Point A to Point B was not an easy feat and there are some lessons that one could only learn from rotating at the Philippine General Hospital Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.
I spent FOURTEEN straight weeks (two back-to-back rotations: PGH-DRM Pedia then PGH-DRM Adult). It wasn’t easy. Nobody said it would be. But it was definitely an experience that would stick with me through the rest of my future career as an OT.
So, here are the TOP 5 things that I've learned as a PGH-DRM OT intern:
5. If at first you don't succeed, try again... and again... and again... and again...
REVISIONS. You guys wouldn't believe how frustrating it is to revise the same paper over and over again. Even those ROTs, which are basically the most basic document you'll ever have to write. I can't help but feel disappointed with myself whenever my CS returns yet another commented and unsigned ROT again. I keep thinking that I should have gotten the hang of it by now given the fact that it wasn’t my first rodeo any longer. What this taught me though is that in order to become better at something, you first have to acknowledge that you're no good at it at all. And that's exactly what I did. Instead of dwelling on the fact that I'm revising the SAME paper for the nth time (okay, just the third, but whatever), I just keep thinking that each revision is an opportunity to do better and learn from my mistakes.
4. Documents aren't everything
I have no argument about the fact that punctuality is a professional behavior that one must possess. However, there really are some instances in which you're forced to choose between submitting a crappy paper on time or a late paper that's worth reading. At the end of the day, it's not about whether how many papers you can write in one night but the amount of effort and thought that went into writing that paper. Trust me, your CS, and your patients, will appreciate you more for coming up with well thought-out plans. And in the long run, it won't matter how many DMs you had when you were an intern but the skills you honed during your internship... and as OTs, writing quality documentations is a must. But if you can do both, well, why the hell not? Congrats to you! :)
3. Learn to ask for help
There's a reason why there are at least four of you in that clinic and it's not merely because the case load demands four (or more) bodies to handle the constant flux of patients. The fact is, four brains are so much better than one. Don't hesitate to ask for help from your co-interns. As busy as you all are in that clinic, 5-minute brainstorming sessions would go a loooooong way in making your treatment plans and your sessions better. The fact is, there will always, ALWAYS, be something you were not able to think of on your own. We're not machines that can remember every single thing we've ever learned (well, unless you're one of those people with a superhuman brain or something).
2. That same, old adage: Time is gold
Being idle is not an option during a PGH rotation. That's a sad fact of life that you need to learn early on if you want to survive 7 weeks in there. Make your time worthwhile. Spend it for rest or spend it to make papers, just make sure that you budget your time wisely and that you do things that are actually worth doing. Take me for example. I'm one of those people who CANNOT be productive all day, everyday. If you know me at all then you probably already know that about me. But the thing is, what I do with my time is something that helps me become more productive in a sort of roundabout way. Confused, yet? Haha I am, too. Okay, here's the deal with me. I will not survive without my daily dose of geekery (books, TV, movies, comics). So, instead of NOT doing anything and staring blankly at my to-do list and stressing about everything else, I give in to the urge and use my time for leisure activities. Yes, I'm an OT. And yes, occupational balance is key (OMG, someone give me my diploma now. hahaha). Other people think of my extracurricular activities as laziness or procrastination but I see them as my own way of taking a much needed breather from the hectic-ness of each day. Remember, time spent for something you enjoy is time well-spent. Don't be too harsh on yourself if you watched an episode of your favorite TV show instead of writing that ROT... or if you read a few chapters in Lang Leav's latest book of feels instead of getting started on that IE. Drowning yourself in the stressfulness of PGH with no me-time to keep you afloat will be the fastest way to a burn-out... and no, you wouldn't want that.
1. One day at a time
And finally, the most important thing I learned so far... and this is something that I learned with my partners-in-crime. It's good to have long-term goals, definitely nothing wrong with that. But what I learned from my first four weeks at PGH is that looking that far ahead keeps you from appreciating every single step that would take you there. When I started this internship, it's like my subconscious set-off an internal countdown leading towards my graduation. But making graduation my only goal kept me from internalizing every little thing I learn along the way. So I took a step back and thought about what I really want to gain from this internship. And it was then that I realized that I want to make the most out of this experience for myself and for my patients... yes, even the most difficult ones. Focusing on the here and now put me in the frame of mind to really focus on the reason we're doing this internship in the first place: to provide OT services and learn from the experience. Before, I thought of it as a means towards a goal, which was graduation. But now it has sort of become a goal in and of itself. One day, I'll graduate and I'll cross that bridge when I get there but for now, I'm focusing on making each day a success, to learn from my patients as much as they learn from me (maybe even more), and to savor each learning and let it guide me towards my end-goals one day at a time.
As stressful as those fourteen weeks had been, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned so much in such a short period of time and I think I fell even more in love with the profession than I did when I started out. The PGH rotations are not for the weak. It challenges you until you’re on the brink of giving up. It pushes you until you have no choice but to move forward. That’s the beauty of it, I guess. Because just when you think you can no longer take one more day, you find strength you never thought you had and find yourself getting over each obstacle.
As I look back on my experiences, I’ve never been more proud of myself. I may not have my diploma yet but I have gained so much more than that piece of paper.
(Originally submitted as my post-internship reflection to my PGH OT CS)
Hi! I'm Gee, your run-of-the-mill twenty-something trying to rediscover the joys of writing and blogging.