While sitting here on a Friday night,  I figured it would be a good time to write this short reflection:

Effortless. It’s such a simple word yet its use is restricted—for life is anything but effortless. But there is one thing that I could describe as being nearly effortless in my life, and though usually being able to perform something effortlessly is a good thing, I see it differently.

I’ve always been good at academics. Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a knack for picking things up—letters, words, number, patterns. And this ability only grew throughout school. I fought through the usual battery of exams, projects, and standardized tests and finally graduated with honors, college bound.

But it didn’t end there. Since I was four, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor (for reasons that deserve a post of its own). And so, I made it a point to find a university that would make that possible. After several supplemental applications and interviews, I finally found that school, a well-known public university which offered me not only a substantial scholarship but conditional acceptance to its medical school.

True, I worked hard to get to where I am now, but I also consider myself very lucky, too lucky, in fact. I have a spot in medical school saved for me upon graduation, but I became eligible through a standardized test—a test that I not only didn’t study for but barely “passed” the school’s internal benchmark. I’ve worked as a research student at a medical institution for the past three years. Yet, I got the position through a stroke of luck. This year I received a national grant,  a notoriously difficult and competitive process, through (yet another) stroke of luck and a mentor’s generosity. And so it may have seemed effortless how I reached this point in my life, but in all honesty, it was a combination of hard work, a little bit of talent, and a lot of good fortune.

Which brings me to another point. People don’t seem to understand when I try to downplay these achievements.  “You should be proud” is the most common phrase that is directed to me. I am proud, and I am happy with where I am with respect to my education and career.

But if someone, anyone asked me if I had a choice, would I give it up? I wouldn’t hesitate. The answer is yes. I would give up that seat in medical school. I would give up my scholarship. I would give up the luck I’ve had. I would give it all up.

Although academics has been effortless for me, other things in my life have been a struggle. There are a lot of things I wish I had and if given the choice, between those things and a seat, I would take the former.

Because in the end, happiness, completeness trumps effortless.