When one considers the brevity of humanity’s existence within the Earth’s lifespan, it really hasn’t been very long since we discovered fire and used leaves as toilet paper. There is an old saying that goes, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand,” but when we take into account how life was like in the old days, we are at such an unbelievable advantage today it’s unreal.
If I were brought into this world during a more primitive era, natural selection would most likely have taken me out of the equation. Apparently, in my younger days, when my parents took me out for walks, I would sprint headlong into the rowdy streets of New York without warning—which may explain why I wasn’t permitted to cross the street for the first decade of my life. In addition, being diagnosed with ADHD probably didn’t help my case. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of evolutionary advantage.
Now, I know the circumstances of our time are drastically different, but it’s still pretty interesting to think about. I was once a half-blind, buck-toothed, mentally vacant child who has now become a relatively productive member of society. The last vestiges of my unfavorable traits have thankfully faded away due to public education and semi-affordable health care. In spite of my good fortune, I had the audacity to write my college essay about how switching from glasses to contacts improved my quality of life. This means that, by some miracle, my First-World-Problems helped get me into Duke.
When the most labor-intensive part of the week involves lugging over a month’s worth of laundry, that’s when you know you’ve got it good. And we’ve all definitely got it good.
But somehow, having it good isn’t enough for us. When our living conditions aren’t up to snuff, we summon Housing, Dining & Residence Life to rectify all their wrongdoings. When our dining experience was limited to a handful of solid eateries, we spammed Fix my Campus on the daily. When drunkenly walking to a bus stop is too much of a burden, we call upon Duke Vans to save us from our imminent doom. Yet even with all these incredible services in place, the life of a Duke student continues to be as stressful as ever.
If biology has taught me anything, it’s that when there is competition, some will win, and others will lose. With regards to my fellow classmates, I find myself closer to the bottom of the food chain than most. For someone dreaming of becoming a doctor, this sort of stress is hard to ignore.
What I’ve learned from competitive gaming is that your mindset is everything—at no point is a situation unsalvageable, so long as you perform to the best of your ability. Every day we’re faced with some form of adversity, and it’s imperative that we keep our heads in the game. Duke isn’t designed to overwhelm us, as hard as it is to believe, and every opportunity extended to us is intended to bring us success.
My sophomore year is coming to a close, and my days here are numbered. But as bleak as the outlook is, I remind myself that there is always a silver lining, and I hope that if I have faith in my abilities, I can make my med school dreams a reality. For all of you struggling out there with me, remember that you’re not alone and that you have my blessings.
Bryan Somaiah is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs every other Friday. Send Bryan a message on Twitter @BSomaiahChron.