“The final year of dental school is a little bit stressful”. Along with “Shakespeare is a little bit dead”, and “Donald Trump is a little bit of a moron”, this statement is perhaps a little bit of an understatement. The reality is that it’s already been a brutal academic year, and as we approach the final set of examinations, I’m undecided as to whether it would be more appropriate to describe it as an “emotional rollercoaster”, or a “suicidal sprint into a haze of smoke and gunfire”. Indeed, as the cannon-fodder for a brand new dental curriculum, our year group has consistently faced the worst of the unknown, and after five years of it, many of us have simply had enough.
But, as I settled into my seat on Friday for what would be my fifth and final dental dinner (I hope), it finally dawned on me that my time at dental school was indeed coming to an end. As I glanced around the hall at my comrades and dearest friends, (some of whom looked presentable for the first time all year), my eyes were greeted by flashbacks of dental dinners gone by. Seemingly distant memories blurred together, and for the first time in a long time, I remembered that for all the darkness I’ve felt over the last few years of dental school, there has been an equal amount of good.
In that very moment, I realised that as much as the thought of washing my hands of dental school filled me with a sense of joy and elation, somewhere, somehow, some small part of me – a splinter, a sliver, or a measly atom, would actually be a little bit disheartened to see it all go. More importantly however, I came to realise just how much time I had invested into this degree, and just how close I now am to the end. In that one, single moment, I began to smell the scent of freedom, and it was a scent that I had been longing to taste for the last six months.
And so the night carried on in the usual manner of fun, frivolity, and food, and by the end of it, I was filled with not only a cummerbund-busting amount of salmon souffle, lamb shank and chocolate fondant, but a refreshed sense of drive. For too long, I have felt overwhelmed by the obstacles placed in front of me. For too long I have let the powers that be paralyse me with stress and frustration, and the cold hard truth is that all it will take to overcome them is a little bit of faith and perseverance.
By the will of God, we will find the strength to endure the bitter weeks that lie ahead. We will hold our nerve and stand our ground, and we will press on forward through the fire and mud that awaits us. And when the drums cease and the smoke clears, we will move on from this chapter of our lives, and laugh at how oh so very small it was.