April 15

Always a Freshman

April 15, 2015

Personal Growth

When I entered kindergarten at age five, I was the youngest kid in the school. I felt like the least experienced and least competent person there. Being the newest and youngest is unsettling. It’s a challenge to one’s confidence.
When I began the first grade, I was no longer the youngest kid in the school, but my family had moved during the summer, so I was still new to the school. I felt like a stranger, beginning new relationships all over again.

For various reasons—mostly my father’s education and subsequent career—I attended a different school each year from kindergarten through the tenth grade, eleven consecutive years. I was always the new kid. Sure, I learned to adapt, but being the new kid eleven years in a row was no picnic.

In high school, I began as a freshman, a word that actually denotes a “fresh” face, or newcomer. When I graduated from high school, I became a freshman again, this time in college. Then in medical school I was again a freshman. In my third year of medical school, I began my first year of clinical studies, at the bottom of the heap again. And after medical school graduation, I was the newest physician as an intern, then new again as a first year surgical resident, a first-year Air Force physician, and in my first year of private practice. When I quit medicine, I was a new author and public speaker at age forty-four.

All our lives, we’re freshman, starting over in some capacity—in school, as spouses, as parents, in our careers, and in our personal development. We tend to fear new beginnings, but they’re an unavoidable part of learning and growing. I’m happy to be a freshman all my life, welcoming the opportunities to start over and become a better person.

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