Strong Enough

Growing up is not as fun as we thought it would be when we were young. It’s a funny thing that can not even be described as a process, but more as a sudden event. We wake up one day, ready to go on with our lives the way we used to, and boom, reality hits us like a hammer in the head. We open our eyes and step into a whole new world, a world with no miracles and no magic. We have two alternatives: we can fight, or we can quit. And surprisingly, no one picks the second.

I was the same; I had no idea whether I was an actress, a psychologist or a coach. Maybe I was a frantic journalist, I thought I would never know. Technically, I was a surgery intern. Practically, I was a sleep-deprived zombie with a pager and an old plaster model of a heart.

Unlike most of my colleagues, who either came from wealthy backgrounds or had connections in the field, I had barely afforded to pay for school, and I had only managed to buy that second-hand model of a heart on a wooden base, broken and missing a section. I had unexpectedly found it in the thrift shop at the end of the street and I was quick to grab it for myself, because I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed. Antithetically, the modest life I had always had must be the reason I went on.

If someone had asked me why I wanted to become a surgeon, I wouldn’t have found a reason to stay, but I could have thought of millions of reasons to stop. But every night, when I locked myself up in my bedroom and stared at the heart, I felt motivated. I felt like I was one of the chosen ones and I was not allowed to give up. Knowing nothing about when or where it had been made or to whom it had belonged before, each night I found out its tumultuous history. Do not ask how, it is not something to be explained. It had been taken from the laboratory of a prestigious school by a poor student who wanted to become a doctor. He had learned by himself everything he needed to know about the dream he was determined to pursue.

I cannot even tell you all of the tricks this boy shared with me. The more you think like a surgeon, the more you become one. Emotions are messy, tuck them aside. Simultaneously, never step into the sterile room and leave all of your soul behind the white door. Life is not a spectator sport. Go ahead, argue with the referees, change the rules. Cheat a little, but never stop playing. Turn your pain into your best card. Be unstoppable.

Later did I find out that the model had been built by Henry Hare, one of the best cardiothoracic surgeons this world has ever seen. He is long gone, but his heart continues to tell stories and to inspire. It motivated the boy I told you about and it did the same for me. Because even the biggest misfortune, even the worst failure, beats the hell out of never trying.