You know those dreams you have when you’re a kid? Not the scary ones with clowns and giant spiders. I’m talking about your dream of being an astronaut and rescuing the world from an alien invasion. Or your dream of becoming a doctor and finding a cure for cancer. Your dream of traveling the world and even your dream of finding the perfect partner. As a kid it’s easy for us to imagine that we can have any of these things with the flip of a switch, however as we get older we learn that it isn’t quite so easy. So, we play it safe. Join the easy clubs, stay home on Friday nights, and forget to submit the application for that summer internship that we secretly really wanted. Personally, I am guilty of all of these things. I spent way too many years afraid of being rejected, so I didn’t apply.
However when I was sixteen years old, I was given an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. My local EMS squad was allowing applicants as young as sixteen to join the squad given they could pass the three month course and state EMT exam after successfully completing an interview. I’ve wanted to go into medicine since I was in fifth grade and watched my first episode of House (I know it’s unrealistic but I was a naive fifth grader), so I knew this wasn’t something I could just blow off. I submitted my application and passed the interview. I entered the class May of my sophomore year, and I had it every Monday and Wednesday from seven to ten PM and Saturdays from nine AM to five PM. I couldn’t miss more than two classes or fail any test twice or else I would be kicked out of the class. I put about eighteen hours a week into the class, including studying, reading the textbook, homework, and hands on practice. In total the class cost more than five hundred dollars, but because I was affiliated with a squad they paid for most of my expenses, making this class not only the biggest risk I had taken but the biggest risk someone had taken on me.
The class was stressful to say the least. Each day new information was thrown at me that I was expected to master within weeks, and each class I was challenged either by my friends or teachers to know more and to try harder. I wanted to be the best, not only for myself but for my future patients. Despite the high levels of stress, going to that class was always my favorite time of the week. It was a time where I could focus on a topic I actually wanted to study, medicine. I was still nervous for the tests of course, but as the class went on and I continued to get good grades and discovered that I wasn’t just getting by in the course but I was actually good at it.
I passed the class and the state exam with flying colors, and have been and EMT for a year. Being an EMT has absolutely been one of the best experiences of my life. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe I almost let the idea of rejection and failure stop me from doing something I love so much. The people I’ve met have changed me and taught me an incredible deal about all different aspects of life from caring for a stroke victim to writing the perfect college essay and handling a long term relationship. I’ve found role models, best friends, and some of the most pure hearted people this world has to offer. I’ve experienced the joy in telling a family their loved one is doing well and the pain of losing someone I worked so hard to try and save. I’ve fundraised, cleaned, organized, and done whatever I can to help. The squad has become a huge part of my life and my crew has become my family. I stumbled into this as a girl who just wanted to see if she liked medicine, and I emerged with a strong sense of self, a passion for helping people, a support system, and a second home.
So take the risk. Apply for the club that you think you aren’t good enough for. Audition for the school play. Take a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or talk to the cute kid in your chemistry class because whether you succeed or not I can promise that you won’t regret it.
picture from flickr.