While “training” coworker Ben and my replacements at Dana-Farber last June, we were taking a coffee break, shooting the shit like you do, and one of the replacements asked about the lifestyle change, going from that of an English grad student to a premed/soon-to-be med student. I listed off some of my canned interview-ish answers, and then concluded:
I actually think the new lifestyle kind of suits me. It’s a lot of stress, but in some ways it’s healthier. I can pull streams of all-nighters writing papers because, in the end, you have to turn something in and meet the page requirement…it doesn’t really matter if you’re brain-dead at 4am, you just keep writing and revising until the deadline. That doesn’t really work for science. If your brain is no longer absorbing the material, you’re done. Go to sleep. There’s no point. Plus, there’s no better feeling than the happiness that rushes over you when you turn in an exam, and you don’t have jack to do over the weekend. What a gratifying rush!”
(This little rationalization was, of course, before I sat through a med school exam, during a time when I could go to sleep at a reasonable hour the night before an exam feeling prepared, and come out of the exam feeling confident.)
Anyway, my replacement responded gently, “I think you might be misidentifying feelings of relief for those of happiness. You feel relief after an exam. Do you really feel happiness?”
Hunh. Fair point.
Well, whatever it was, it felt pretty damn fantastic after the five-hour Brain & Behavior exam this past Friday. In the 26 hours preceding, Eric and I pulled a near-all-nighter (so much for the healthier lifestyle), during which we laughed, we cried (I cried…just a little), we made horribly offensive substitutive names for those tricksy parasol cells (of course, “conveniently” named M-cells, whereas their counterparts, midget cells are P-cells), and we ingested copious amounts of broccoli and hummus.
And now, spring break. So so happy.