remember me

I’m still here. I promise. It has been over a month and a half since my last post, and this is not necessarily a normal length update, but rather a snippet of me saying I’ve missed this blog and that I promise this summer I will have time to catch up on so much from this semester.

THREE MORE DAYS until I can say I’m officially 25% a dentist. I find myself always saying this of life, but the past couple of months have truly been a blur. There have been countless exams, anatomy dissections, final lab practicals, very late nights, laughs, tears, celebrations, and more shenanigans of the first year of dental school as always.

I think I haven’t written in so long because at the end of most days when my head longs to hit the pillow, my brain and heart both seem as though they might just pop any minute. That is part of why I do love the outlet of blogging: to get those words and thoughts OUT. As a pretty clear 50/50 extro/introvert, some days one side wins over the other, but writing has always proven to be a steady and reliable compromise between word vomit and silence for me. A very apparent part of who I am is that I always strive to maintain a level of honestly and transparency about my life. I’m not a fan of facades, surface level conversations and relationships, or faking like everything is just constantly peachy when we are all human. We have got to start being real with each other. Between a very heavy stretch of school and doing what I can to finish up the semester strong, an ample amount of roller coaster changes in my family and friendships, and putting any efforts I do have towards labored prayers, I simply haven’t had the time or emotional energy to combat my weariness in order to write my usual bubbly and witty posts about life as a twenty something dental student in a new city. I will be in Philadelphia most of the summer working a community health type of internship but with a lot more time off NOT STUDYING nights and weekends, so I know that consistently blogging again is definitely on the summer bucket list. I will do my best to bring back more of the light hearted posts about the shambles of learning to be a dentist, too. School is honestly hilarious sometimes.

God has sometimes felt far these days, but I fight to believe that He is in fact near and still pursues me relentlessly despite my apathy. He still speaks to me through warm summer-y bike rides along the river, laughing/crying with a dear friend over a beautiful Italian dinner or post-church brunch, or through the constant reminder of his faithfulness that I am even here at Penn in dental school, pursuing the passion HE has given me. At the end of the day, I deeply pray that the story I’m telling and my new season of life here this past year has somehow, someway, not by MY efforts but His Grace, been a picture of how God redeems the brokenness. wave

Peace, my friends. I’ll be back very soon, and then you can call my (1/4) Dr. Jessie.

even the winter

Since I posted last, winter has certainly arrived here in Philadelphia. I’m sure all of you heard about the monster that was Winterstorm Jonas. It dumped a hefty 20+ inches on us, but of course managed to not bless us with a snow day off of school. I stocked up at the grocery store, made a big batch of African peanut sweet potato stew (delish and hearty), and basically hibernated in my pjs all weekend while forcing myself to study angiology. I managed to get out in the midst of it Saturday for a verrrrry windy and cold thirty minute walk around Penn, only for Instagram photo purposes of course. Campus is even prettier buried beneath a thick layer of white.snowy penn

The winter weather does affect my days recently more than I anticipated, though. Can we talk about how the sun sets around 5 o’clock (aka when we finish class most days)? Also, I am sad to admit the lack of gym-going that has occurred since the new semester started. Would you really want to put on 3 layers just to walk to the gym and take them off? Not to mention the sheer volume of our courses already this semester that demand every waking hour of attention to master. This afternoon I did make myself make the measly four-block trek to have a serious leg day session. All that talk in pathology about atrophy, and I’m convinced that’s the sad current state of my former cycling instructor thighs and glutes. I’m also convinced I’m going to start rock climbing again for a fun non-workout workout. I haven’t done it since I left Baylor, and even back then it was very few and far between – and mainly to just say hi to my cool friends who worked The Rock.

This entire past week was a rougghhhh one, my friends. Our Thursday exam was arguably our biggest doozy yet. Let’s just say I’m still recovering mentally and physically, and my main medicine of choice this weekend (per usual) has been pizza and wine. I’ve also relished some sweet early bed times to “catch up” (scientifically not possible, sorry) on my sleep. I am so thankful for all my friends back home who check in on me and support my study marathons with all the emojis, Bitmojis, letters, and maybe some distracting youtube videos every now and then. Speaking of, one of my BEST friends from college is taking non other than THE MCAT this week, and she is seriously the most diligent and resilient person I know so I’m nothing but confident in her. Shout out to YOU Jenna, (future) M.D.

If you know me at all, you know my days too often revolve around a countdown and looking forward to something in the near or far off future (I’m learning more and more to live in the here and now, but I can’t help but get excited about planning fun trips or events). Well in the past few days, I have had a SERIOUS case of #yolo and spontaneity…I never regret it 🙂

  1. I will be in WACOTOWN in 26 short days to watch my first ever Baylor All-University Sing that I won’t be performing in! (If you’re not a Baylor grad, google it. I can’t explain) Also just to see some of my Baylor buds who I love and miss dearly. Oh and Mexican food, duh. And half pitchers at Shorty’s.
  2. For the first part of my spring break (only 5 weeks away – GLORY) I am headed to Washington, D.C. for the first time ever to hang out and explore the city with one of my absolute favorite people who just happens to be temporarily moving there for a few months (140 miles away instead of 1400 = happy me).
  3. You know that little band called Coldplay? They’re performing the Super Bowl halftime show this year in case you didn’t hear. They also just announced their US Stadium Tour dates, and I am FINALLY going to see one of my all time favorite bands LIVE this August! My extensive concert bucket list is pretty much complete now.

I’d say that little list (especially the first two happening so soon) is all the motivation I need for this next stretch of exams.

While I do love looking forward in anticipation of things to come, God is continually teaching me to stop and thank Him for TODAY – just as it comes and as it is. Even in this winter season, even in this waiting season, and even in this weary season. I want to fight to not let my hopeful heart wander too far off in the distance, but to hold on tight to the gift he gives each day, this chapter, right now. After all, what good does it do to jump to the end we’re dreaming up on our own when He is our author, writing way better stories than we ever could?

Even the Winter, by Audrey Assad (one of my favorite artists), pretty much sums this up.

What if the spring comes soon 

and we’re surprised

What if the seasons help us realize

Some things are only proven over time

pieces

Today I had a very rare lecture and lab free morning, so I went to sleep before eleven and sans alarm, naturally waking up around six and falling back asleep until nine. Sleep is a beautiful thing. I figured I’d make my way down to my favorite close by coffee shop and wake up slow, maybe fitting in time enough to review one lecture before our afternoon classes. This usually consists of listening to worship music, journaling or reading and praying, and probably then afterwards spending too much time reading all the sites I follow, catching up on Instagram, and following click bait to see Adele Carpool Karaoke (so worth your 15 minutes).  

One of my favorite songs, Pieces by Amanda Cook, came on my playlist, and this is a song that has meant different things to me over the past several months of knowing it. I feel like over and over again, it has been my heart’s declaration that even when it hurts and when I don’t feel like it’s true, to still know that God will never love us with a fraction or give us half of what we need. This season He has continually reminded me that he gives nothing short of the BEST for us, but often times in order for us to fully experience the fullness and extravagance of what he has for each of us, we have to wait. Wait for him to carry it to completion while he is continuing to refine our hearts in the time of in between. So many of us are in this “awkward” stage of new adult-ing post graduation and desperate to look ahead and jump ahead. Instead of rushing into wanting only pieces of second best and selling God short, let’s be confident that he will always love and give lavishly with his whole heart.green line

one sixteenth a doctor. basically.

It’s pretty much the halfway point of the semester, give or take a few days. We’ve got two whole finished courses, five exams, three tooth wax-ups, and our first time in clinic under our belts. It sounds pretty pathetic in comparison to the gigantic hurdles we have ahead of us for the next four+ years, but at the same time it’s incredible how much we’ve learned and done in just eight weeks of dental school. The fact that we already have real grades on our transcript already is crazy (don’t worry Mom, they’re good ones).
journalMy journal I started mid-summer reached full capacity – I guess you can imagine how much has been on my mind in the past few months and the rambling prayers and dreams that covered those pages – and there’s something so refreshing about opening a crisp new one and writing on that first page. I love how it correlated with the shift of seasons here in Philly, too. Turning over a new leaf and page, literally. This week lows are already in the 30s and 40s and some days the highs only get to the 50s. I don’t miss the still-90-in-October part of Texas, sorry.

Since my last post we had our initiation dinner for the dental fraternity I joined, Psi
galsOmega. It was an excuse to dress up (and let me just say again – all my classmates are dang attractive), enjoy a great dinner, and have a fun Friday night out with my new sistas and bros, both new members and upperclassmen. For people wondering what on earth a dental school fraternity is about (I realize it sounds more geek than Greek), it’s basically another way to make connections with your class and classes above you, network with alumni (shout out to homegirl Dr. Maggio), get involved with more service opportunities, have fun socials to look forward to, and receive academic help along the way. We have three equally great ones here at Penn, and I have friends that joined each of them but there’s also no pressure to join any of them. To a lot of people’s surprise, there are a million things to get involved with during your time in dental school.

Speaking of, I haven’t had the chance to update you guys that I did in fact get offered a board position on our chapter of the American Student Dental Association. I will be a contributing editor this year, and I’m so pumped for all that’s in store for Penn ASDA. My position is basically responsible for writing occasional articles and posts for our newsletter and website as well as just help out in general with publishing those or gathering ads. Being on the board at all gives a lot of options for other ways to get involved, too, and definitely opens up doors for ways to serve in the future. One thing that I am privileged to have the chance to do is travel to Chicago at the end of this month with nine other board members for ASDA’s National Leadership Conference. I’m one of two D1s going, and I can’t wait for a weekend of meeting dental students from around the country, hearing awesome speakers, and learning even more about my role as a leader in ASDA and in my future career in general. I’ve also never actually been to Chicago, so I’m so thankful to have the chance to go finally! I’ll be sure and write some highlights post-NLC. Deep dish pizza better be involved too, just saying. 🙂

This week after our tough chunk of exams that were pretty close together, I’ve definitely enjoyed some down time and getting caught up on life-things instead of school-things: the ever-growing stack of letters that need responding to, buying my first real winter coat, that thing called laundry, stocking up on fall baking supplies (pumpkin errthing happening soon), Saturday morning FaceTime coffee catchup dates, oh yeah and sleep. I also spontaneously traveled outside the city on Wednesday after a long day of clinic (our first time assisting!) and lab to hang with my Philly fam away from home, the Clarks. The fall harvest dinner spread was worth the trip alone. Butternut squash soup, smashed sweet and purple potatoes, seasonal salad, roasted rosemary salmon, a creamy bourbon maple cocktail, and did I mention apple crumble?! Geez so much better than my normal weeknight concoctions. We actually didn’t have lecture until three on Thursday, so I even made a sleepover out of it. I’m so thankful to have such a fun and supportive family right up the road from me, and I will definitely keep them in the back of my mind when I need a city/school escape. clarksIt’s one of those really cool full circle stories how we’re connected again. Ian and Susan were my parents’ best friends back in the early 90s, and even though I didn’t really remember them much, I always knew how much they meant to my family from the way Mom or Dad would talk about the Clarks. The last time I saw them I think I was two years old, and since then they’ve moved frequently all over the East Coast. When I finally decided to come to Penn, Mom and Dad realized that they were going to be only 10 miles away from me, along with their daughter and son in law, Hannah and Greg! I just can’t help but thank God for crossing our paths once again. He knew I’d need some times of good foodie meals, laughing, and family music time with every one on a different instrument – much like my old times back home with Mom, Dad, and Megan in the window-lined music room.

These days, I feel like God is teaching me more and more about rest, contentment, and that whatever I have in my head about what the future might hold will never compare to the good he actually has for me. I love looking back and seeing how He works in the big and small and in ways that we were so blind to at the time. I’m constantly asking for clarity for things that confuse, distract, or overwhelm me (there’s plenty currently) and peace and strength for the days at hand. your love

I’m leaving you with the lyrics that have been playing again and again through my headphones since Amanda Cook’s new album was released a few weeks ago. This one is called The Voyage, and I feel like it relates entirely too well for me as well as several of my friends in this season of graduating/post-grad/20-something adventure that we find ourselves on. I find it ironic that I titled this post before I rambled up to this point, and now it really seems to actually relate to this very song in a way. We get so caught up in exactly how much further we have until that next thing is checked off – grad school, a serious relationship, big move, that dream job…when in the end, the pressure’s off and God is continually with us. I don’t think He’s really one for destinations. He wants us to walk beside Him in the journey.

Speak, even if your voice is trembling
Please, you’ve been quiet for so long
Believe, it’ll be worth the risk you’re taking

You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling
There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones
What you make of this moment changes everything

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

Set your sights, sailing far beyond familiar
In the rising tide, you’ll find the rhythm of your heart
And lift your head, now the wind and waves don’t matter

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

I am the wind in your sails

[brought to you by post-exam jello brain]

We are definitely reaching the thick of the semester, and time for blogging sadly got put on the back burner this past week. Today we had a monstrous Foundational Sciences exam. I won’t dare tell you how many pages my typed study guide ended up being or how many Spotify playlists I burned through in the past 5 days. Oh joy, we’ve got another one coming right back at us for Biological Systems on Monday. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the mundane of studying and going to lecture and lab day in and day out, and I’m still really trying to maintain healthy balance and perspective constantly.

scrubs

We finally got our classy navy scrubs in (am I a chief surgical resident on Grey’s yet??), so that’s at least one step closer in the “Dr. Price” direction. Let’s be real, I’m so glad I chose a career where professional pjs are the norm everyday. GRD lab is also off and running at a quick pace and we’ve already finished our central incisor and canine wax-ups, and now we’re working on the premolar. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it’s basically where we build an entire tooth out of nothing but wax and have to create all the details of the anatomy of that specific tooth. It’s feels very archaic with our Bunsen burners flaming as we heat our waxing instruments, melt and pick up a drop of wax, and try oh try to place and “flow” it where we want to build that marginal ridge or distal contact point before it solidifies. Fun? Surprisingly, sort of. Frustrating at times? Definitely. Hilarious b/c of the people I sit around and what we talk about for four hours? You know it, Novin, Ash, and Marisa 🙂 The faculty are pretty helpful with constructive criticism along the way, but when it comes time for grading our finished product, a non-dental person wouldn’t believe how many details go into what makes a #12 a #12 aesthetically, how it articulates in occlusion, where the height of contour is placed, how it’s aligned in the arch, and every other thing they can take off points for. wax

The morning temps are dropping (glory glory #fallelujah), the Bean boots have made their debut, and I’m getting more and more excited to experience my first real fall living on the East Coast. Jenna, one of my BEST friends from Baylor got to come visit last Thursday through Sunday and we had an absolute blast together. Even though it was dreary, windy, and rainy all weekend due to the hurricane, we loved it and enjoyed adventuring around Philly with plenty of studying and coffee shops thrown in, just like old times together. She’s at Boston U for a Master’s in Public Health, so she definitely understands the grad school grind and how weekends unfortunately can’t always be all play and no work. The main reason she came was to go see our boy Ben Rector in concert with me, and we later realized when we saw him in Waco last was an exact year ago so of course we had to take another pic with yet another Ben T shirt together. It was such a refreshing time getting to catch up on East Coast life that we’re both new to, church, school, family, and relationships with Jenna. jennaben

I definitely wish sometimes that I had more time in the day for things like my latest Don Miller read, Scary Close, experimenting with seasonal dishes in the kitchen, lifting more weights, writing more letters (the stack for correspondence in my metal envelope hung on the wall is growing quickly…), but at the same time I’m learning to cherish the small moments here and there, even if it’s in the midst of the business. Things like lunchtime Bible study with classmates, walks through the gorgeous Penn campus, solid heart to heart text novels/convos (during collagen synthesis lecture oops) with friends back home, a conversation with the barista, attending a local “black church” last Sunday with my church-hopping buds and having a sweet time of worship, and the never-ending Spotify music sharing and discovery with friends here and home. philly

Sometimes I walk down the street or through campus, and I think to myself, “Do I really live here? Am I actually in grad/dental school?” Oftentimes we get so caught up in the negative – i.e. “all of the above except” exam questions, if we got an 8 or a 9 on our tooth waxing, how many hours of sleep we’ll get tonight – when there is so so much around us to be grateful for. I pray that I never take for granted the opportunity I’ve been given to be here and to be learning so much every day to one day be able to use these gifts and this knowledge to really make a difference in peoples’ lives.

A verse that I’ve always hung onto for a long time and especially in times of transition is Habakkuk 1:5 – “…be utterly amazed. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” God always has some crazy exciting things up his sleeve, and I am constantly asking for an increase in patience and trust that His ways are higher than mine. Let us be filled with expectancy and hope, always. Those things you’re believing for? Keep believing.

Until next time, I’m studying epithelium and the thrills of saliva, adding pumpkin pie spice to my coffee grounds, biking and running more in the cool of the day, and falling more in love with my favorite season.

Feels like home

I did what every responsible grad student does when you find out that you’ve got a rare three day weekend (thanks again, Pope): make it a four day weekend and book a trip back to the old stomping grounds for some quick but quality time with the place and people I love and miss every day. My mom and sis are pretty upset that I made the trek to Texas and didn’t get to see them (HOME home’s a few hours away + no car), but I knew this was my one chance all football season to catch a Waco weekend and home game until next year probably. I’m deeply sorry fam, and I promise this will make Christmas and your November visit that much better.

When school started, I had no idea I would make a trip back this soon, but honestly the timing could not have been better. Homecoming sadly was not an option (tears for days) with our class/exam schedule surrounding that weekend, so I was desperate to find another random weekend when I could escape Philly to return to the promised land. Nothing against my new home which I love, but being back in the land of Tex-Mex, “y’all,” and Baylor football was seriously beyond good for the soul.

rossMy old roomie Chels picked me up from the airport in Dallas (meanwhile I had already started sweating the five minutes I was waiting outside…DON’T miss that) and we jammed and gabbed all the way to Wacotown. I met up with my best guy Ross for a big hug, nostalgic Shorty’s pizza, half pitchers (Shiner cravings = fulfilled), and talking life – the little and the big – all night long. It’s weird how places like a tiny, college joint, pizza shack can be jam-packed with as many memories and conversations like that as that place.

chels

Friday was full of lots of friends, catching up, more favorite food spots (LJ’s baked oatmeal of course), talking forever with my favorite prof, walking around campus and it already feeling different, and even sitting in on an a cappella rehearsal just for fun. Of course I couldn’t go to Texas and not indulge in ‘jitas and ‘ritas, so that’s exactly what me and Chels did (followed by catching the Grey’s premiere in our pjs in bed and going to bed at a gloriously early hour for a Friday night).

The downtown Waco farmers market was buzzing with people, new vendors, and great live music even more than I remembered. I love coming back to that city and seeing the growth (i.e. the Waco revival that is a very real thing) that’s happened there even from a few months ago. I’ve gotta say I miss the culture and people of Waco/Baylor for sure. It feels like one of those places where you can go anywhere and see everyone you know, and even if you don’t know them you could probably strike up a quality convo with any “stranger.” That’s not exactly the same for the crowds of Philly and the East Coast. kellieI headed to the glory that is McClane Stadium afterwards and ran into so many lovely faces there. My dear friend Kellie and I had actual seats (what is post-grad life even?) which were straight up in the path of the blazing 95 degree afternoon Texas sun, so I spent a lot of time walking around seeing friends in shadier spots. I can’t even describe the emotion, though, watching the new Baylor Line run on the field and the pre-game hype video, thinking about the endless memories I have of sweet victories the past four years. baylorLiteral goose-bumps. We quickly worked up the scoreboard while the sun worked up my slight sunburn. The game finished 70-17 in typical Baylor fashion, and I spent the rest of Saturday having girls night and talking school, church, and (possibly) guys with Sarah, Gigi, and Danielle – girls from my old Lifegroup who always open their home – and hearts – for me when I’m in town.

One of the things I was looking forward to most was getting to go to my old church, Antioch, and partly why I booked my return flight for as late as 7 pm. It was a pure joy to worship with my old community and hug so many necks afterwards. God has definitely promised to provide a new community here, but I know it will take time and most likely look different from what I knew for four years. After a quick lunch with more friends and what else other than a Iced No Bull at Common Grounds, I was sadly saying goodbye once more to that little central TX town that has so much of my heart.

girlsShauna Niequist said “Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much.” I could not agree more. As much as I miss my hometown, family, Waco, friends, and Baylor, I know that being in Philly at Penn Dental is so good, so right, and so needed for this season. God is so kind to give us opportunity for adventure and growth, even if it sometimes seems painful at first to leave behind the comfort and familiarity of a safe place. I realize being gone (even if it’s only been for just a month now) has shown me more and more about what and who matter most to me. The vague but certain promise of “See you…soon” is enough for me to look forward to the next trip back, whenever that may be.

CG

On seeking balance and fleeing comparison

These days I’m learning more and more about myself as I aim to master balancing schoolwork with everything else, and I’m also in the process of figuring what all exactly I want to be involved with at Penn Dental when it comes to organizations, leadership roles, frats (yes, frats), clubs, etc. I know I can’t say yes to everything, but I also don’t want to just sit on the sidelines and float through these four years simply to leave with a degree. I want to leave with experiences and memories of things other than studying for hours on end like today (and all week) for our Biological Systems exam Monday. I want to be a voice for my class, get my hands into projects that I can take on, and utilize my unique passions.

We have different interest meetings literally every day for another group (usually with free food so duh we’re going), and lately we’ve had a few events for the dental fraternities (that’s another story – I’m sure all my undergrad friends are cracking up that I’m even thinking of joining one). I applied for our ASDA board as either a D1 Rep or Contributing Editor (aka writing blogs/articles for newsletter, website), and would really love to have a chance to play a bigger role in ASDA already in my first year. I’m also on the class council ballot for both Curriculum/Academic Chair and Ethics Chair. I think either one of those would be a really cool way to serve the ridiculously cool Class of 2019 Penntists (and the classes to come as far as making our curriculum as effective as it can be), strive to maintain our awesome class dynamic and get through any specific struggles, and get to know faculty throughout the school. This is my campaign plug, classmates – you know you want to vote for me 🙂 There’s also talk about having just for fun secondary elections for things like Class Chef, Class Baby, or PR/Social Media Chair aka me. One of our professors in lecture the other day, (sort of weirdly) anonymously called me out basically about my blog, and everyone automatically knew it was me. Long story short, somehow some faculty know about me and that I blog about dental school and just wanted to check it out or wondered what I was saying I guess. So yeah, I’m pretty much here to be a billboard for how awesome Penn Dental is now and can’t talk bad about my profs (even though Dr. M assured me I was free to rant about how awful her tests are b/c it was my perogitave to write about whatever I want). But seriously, though. Apply here. I’ll come say hi on your interview day like I’ve already done for the first 2 rounds of new interviewees! And maybe get some free coffee while I’m there…

it's always sunny in Philadelphia - Rittenhouse Square

it’s always sunny in Philadelphia – Rittenhouse Square

A lot of people probably think professional school (med, dental, law, etc) is a boring and dull grind of absolutely nothing but studying your brains out 24/7. Well, news flash, that’s actually not accurate. Maybe more like 10/6 but whatever. I often tell my friends and family back home that to me, dental school is certainly one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done while also being hands down one of the funnest times in my life so far. Sure, you can lock yourself away in a library cubby and never see the sun for days on end, and I’m sure you’ll get that 98 on the exam and keep your dreams of specializing at your top choice program one day (side note – yes I’m still interested in specializing at the moment, but I also refuse to be miserable). However, I am such a HUGE advocate of taking time for mental, spiritual, physical, emotional, and social health and remembering that while we are a student, we are still a person. A person that needs to do things like go get popsicles just because, take a long break for a sunset run, bike to Rittenhouse for La Colombe coffee simply because we finished class at 1, sleep that extra hour or two, make a beautiful meal, skip a lecture this coming Thursday b/c TEXAS, or take the entire Sunday off from studying last week because your border collie back home you’ve had for 17 years passed away. There are times when school will simply come second to things like that. When mom told me that Jody died, I immediately couldn’t even think about studying anything. I went home to pretty much cry in bed the rest of the day, watched Eat Pray Love (one of my faves), and had therapeutic pizza (what else?) with some friends to get my mind off of it.

my boy

my boy

Another thing I’ve already realized is how easily my classmates and I get trapped into comparison even though I wouldn’t say Penn is “competitive” like it’s reputation sometimes. While I took the day off Sunday b/c I honestly could not focus on school for one second, I couldn’t help but think about how “behind” I would get on studying for our next exam. People are constantly talking and asking each other about how much they are (or aren’t) studying, and as much as I seriously love the collaboration of our Facebook group page when it comes to study materials, I think sometimes it contributes to this unspoken comparison of who’s doing what and how early. When professors announce the average or grade distributions of how many As, Bs, etc, you can’t help but think about where you fall in that spectrum, and we forget that we are 120 people that are used to being the best. That’s how we got here. I remember at my interview someone saying that coming to dental school (and maybe more so at a place like Penn that is just more competitive for acceptance), you have to prepare yourself to be average. We have all been above average academically our entire lives, and now there has to be 50% of the class that is “below average.” It’s truly a crazy concept for us type-A overachievers. They also said, though, that it doesn’t even matter at all, because when we graduate and are then in the real world as practicing dentists, we would be above average again (there’s more of that Penn pride…). A friend from Baylor who’s a first year med student actually just started a blog and wrote tonight on this very thing. Check it out to read basically what I’m trying to say here. We often forget that everyone comes from different educational/personal backgrounds and that what works for me may be completely different from what works for someone who’s been out of school for five years or who is married and has kids. While I always will strive for excellence in everything, I am not striving for perfection. I have to remind myself DAILY of a truth I learned throughout college and in my personal journey. That is that my grades or anything I DO will never be my identity. I am a unique and loved child of God, and THAT is my identity.

Speaking of that balance, after studying for way too many hours today, I’m now going to grab a Blue Moon harvest pumpkin ale and watch an episode of Grey’s before calling it a night. Happy weekend, friends.

P.S. 5 DAYS TIL TEXAS

We won’t be distracted by comparison if we’re captivated with purpose. – Bob Goff

the best kind of extravagance

straight

Friday morning I got a call from the all too familiar 215 area code number I recognized. I then walked into my aunt’s house where she and Mom were waiting for me at the computer to map out our cross country road trip and hotel stays with Irving Street, Philadelphia as the final destination. With tears still pouring down my face (I think they must have thought I had been in a wreck or something that would cause sad tears – but these were the joyous and overwhelmed kind of tears), I played them the voicemail saying that my scholarship to Penn had been increased to the maximum amount ($30k/year instead of $20k/year). That’s an additional $40k meaning I’ll be in that much LESS DEBT when I’m through and navigating the waters of post-professional school and new world of doctor-hood (read: a struggle). I really never expected anything to change or be updated with my financial situation just one month before classes start. I had contacted them early on in the summer after Dad’s passing just to simply ask if they could do anything else to help me in this extremely difficult transition, but they said all scholarships were finalized at that point.

{If you maybe missed this whole initial roller coaster decision and God’s crazy sense of humor and timing, read my post about it here.}

I am still in disbelief. I had just been complaining to Mom about an hour earlier about my frustration that grad students had to pay almost $500 annually for all-inclusive fitness center and group class access. “I didn’t budget that into my loan amount!” Throughout this whole process, I have still struggled to not only focus on the money part of becoming a dentist. I am SO excited about this next chapter, but it is definitely a big pill to swallow when I see those expected student budget sheets and my first tuition bill. I also know very strongly that it is not God’s desire for me to be so enslaved to money matters now or in the future, and I really don’t want my life after school (or residency) to be dictated by my loan balances. I want to surrender my finances to Him and be free to go and do what He’s placed on my heart for whatever season I’m in. I want to stay enthusiastic and willing to take even more leaps of faith to see my dreams to fruition, with Him guiding me each step – or I should say leap – of the way.

All those months of praying into this decision and doubting if my dream school where I really felt God leading me would financially be realistic even after I committed, and then God reminds me of his everlasting faithfulness and provision. AGAIN. All in HIS crazy surprising timing, which makes for some way better stories than I could ever write into my life. He so extravagantly gives to His children, and how often we forget that no dream is too far out of reach when He is the author.

My friend Danny said to me after I told him the insane news, “This will be the story you’ll tell someday when you give speeches.” I loved that so much, because I’m currently reading Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. {I’ll talk more about that later – also how I crazy loved Blue Like Jazz.} If I would have never trusted God in the first place with this crazy idea to move across the country where I knew nobody and attend one of the top (and one of the most expensive) dental schools, I would have missed telling this twisty, surprising, and thrilling story that’s really just beginning.

fear

Needless to say, Mom and I celebrated with steak, red wine, AND dessert last night.IMG_7715