Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

A moment of philosophy

Nishitha Bujala
Hyderabad, Telangana, India


Feeling overwhelmed while studying for medical school
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I seem to be in a constant state of anxiety these days. With my one-year plans and goals seemingly disrupted by the pandemic, my medical licensing exams postponed, my ability to focus shrunk to the size of a peanut, my interest to study equaling that of a bored cat, I cannot figure out what it is that I want from life. My mind wanders to the happy times as a child when all I wanted was to be an astronaut, cut to now where my life feels stagnant and paused in space and time. The clock ticks, seconds go by, my anxiety does not. What changed so drastically in the past few years of my existence that my answers had changed so poignantly? Maybe I am overthinking. Or maybe I am just having an early midlife crisis. Is twenty-three years too young to have one? I do not know. I sit by my study desk all day knowing I have to study long hours, dedicate at least another three months of fifteen hour days, write the exam, and make it to the other side without falling apart. I need to wake up early, study, eat, sleep, and repeat. Some days are good. Some days are bad. The bad days are the worst. They feel like a dark void wrapping around my body, paralyzing me with anxiety and fear. My peers are studying too, I do not have time to think about all this, I cannot waste time and drift apart from the competitive tide that threatens to drown us all. But no. Wait. I need to think about this. Just for another ten minutes. Then I promise to go back to studying.

The first thing my brain wants to discuss with me is the why. Why is this happening to me? Why the unwarranted stress? I am a quintessential happy go lucky girl, I pursue a lot of hobbies, my dad supports me in whatever it is that I want to do, so why the anxiety? A voice deep inside my head answers—It is not enough. Whatever you do, it is just not enough. The voice is right. Whatever I do or say or achieve in my life, I am, after all, just another human being fighting a battle without an opponent. Because one day in the distant future as the world keeps moving forward, I will not be in it. My heart races as this fact hits me hard. Nobody will remember me. My children might grieve for a couple of years. Ten. Twenty. Maybe even thirty. My grandkids may remember once in a while that I existed. And that is it. A good four to five decades after I am gone, I will be forgotten. Considering I live for seventy years (seventy is a long shot, the way I am stuffing my arteries with fast food I may not even make it to fifty. But let’s take a mean age of seventy for the statistics), and a fifty-year addendum for the time my kids and grandkids might (or might not) remember me, I have exactly one hundred and twenty years of existence physically and essentially on this planet since the day I was born. By the year 2117 my identity will be completely wiped off the face of this planet, like I never existed.

I will take a moment here and talk about the people who will be remembered a long, long time after they are gone. JK Rowling comes to my mind first before anybody else. I may be biased here—Harry Potter is my favorite series of all time. I literally grew up reading the series, the values of friendship, love, grief, happiness, and most importantly magic, all these aspects of life heavily integrated into my genome. I cannot help but think a thousand years from now, a ten-year-old will read Harry Potter and be affected just as much as this generation has been. The book is immortal. So is the author by default. I can name hundreds of people right off my head without a pause—people who will be remembered forever—Einstein, Newton, Tesla, Da Vinci, Galileo, Darwin, Hitler, Armstrong, Gandhi, Picasso, Luther King, and the list goes on.

I may be wrong. Maybe a thousand years from now a catastrophic event will erase our species, a new species may take over, and what we have done so far may become only a fragment of the earth that once was. Everybody wants to be remembered forever. In a quest for eternal immortality in name and fame, a lot of bad things have been accidentally created (bombs were never meant to be invented). Sometimes I wonder if everything we do in our everyday lives is for the want of being remembered after we are gone. To leave a mark. But at what cost? I do not even know if I want to be remembered. Maybe I will just live my life in ignorance of this fact because it is a dark thought for my young brain. I will think about this again when I am fifty (if I make it). But for now, as I bid my deeply philosophical thoughts a good bye, I think of the six fat textbooks on my study table waiting to be read. And I stress again.



NISHITHA BUJALA is a final year student from India currently pursuing her degree in medicine. She is passionate about writing and has published her debut novel Breaking Philosophy, a sci-fi thriller, in 2019. She is also a writer at Lexicon—an international medical magazine for students.


Summer 2021  |  Sections  |  Personal Narratives

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