This is a tough one for me to write. I’m sure that by now, you’ve read the title. It’s not a typo or click bait. It is the absolute truth. I have decided to drop out of dental school. A very long and difficult journey led up to that decision and this is the very raw and honest telling of that story.
Let’s start at the beginning. I decided I wanted to be a dentist around junior/senior year of high school. I spent all of my undergraduate years working towards this goal. I made many mistakes and my GPA was less than desirable, yet I worked hard and prayed hard and I got in. If you want to know more about that story you can check out the post I wrote about that here!
I started dental school in August of 2017 and I was living my dream. I’d sacrificed so much to be where I was and I was grateful to be well on my way to becoming a dentist.
First semester was extremely difficult. While I passed all my classes, I was getting mostly C’s which I was okay with because C’s get degrees. However, I didn’t feel like the amount of effort I was putting in was equal to the poor results I was seeing. By the end of the semester I was physically, mentally, and emotionally burnt out.
Second semester is when I started to notice a change for the worse. I talked earlier about making sacrifices for my dream, but now I was starting to sacrifice my soul. Now, I’m don’t want you think I’m being overly dramatic. So let’s take a second to define soul. Your soul is simply your mind, will, and emotions. My emotional life took a scary turn and I noticed myself alternating between feelings of anxiety and depression.
I felt like I was drowning. Everything was a struggle. Eating, sleeping, getting out bed, stepping out of the door of my apartment. Every movement felt like trudging through a vat of butter. I felt like no one could help me, not even God. I believed I was broken beyond repair. Yet I’d put on a brave face and I’d smile and be polite. People would ask, “How are you doing?” And I’d say, “Good.” They’d ask, “How’s school?” And I’d say, “Good.” I didn’t even know how to articulate my pain to the people around me, even those closest to me.
So I failed. I failed several classes. I felt like I was losing my mind, my emotions were all over the place, and I felt like my will was not my own. I was losing my soul, but I was determined to gain this degree. But what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?
I will say, I did start going to counseling toward the end of the semester, which I highly suggest for anyone who relates to the type of experiences I expressed earlier.
The semester was coming to a close and I knew the Progression Committee would meet to determine my fate. Either I’d be allowed to retake the classes I failed or I’d be dismissed from the school. At this point my relationship with God was extremely strained. I’d pushed Him away as much as I did the people in my life. It hurt me to think of how big and good and capabale God is and to still believe that even someone as amazing as Himself could not help me. However, God’s pursuit of us is relentless and even though I wanted Him at a distance I couldn’t help but sense His gentle presence in my life.
So, with knowing the Progression Committee meeting was coming up, I got down on my knees and began to pray. I prayed that if this cup of flunking out dental school could be taken away from me that it would, but nonetheless, let Your will be done. I repeated these words over and over until a sense of peace came over me.
In case you missed that, I prayed the same prayer that Jesus prayed before He died on the cross. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that a bit much? It’s just school.” But I had thrown so much of my identity into this one dream, that the death of it felt like the death of me.
After receiving that peace from God, I felt like no matter what happened I’d be okay. I’d be more than okay because no matter what I may have thought the plans were for my life, God knows the plans He has for my life and they are to prosper me and not harm me, to give me a future and a hope.
I had been trying to hold on so tightly to something that God was taking out of my hands. And as God began to unravel my identity from this dream and began to wrap my identity in Himself, I realized that I was holding onto and pursuing dentistry for all the wrong reasons. I was no longer willing to sacrifice so much of my time, mental and emotional energy, and money to become a dentist. Being a dentist is a crucial, admirable, and amazing career path but I realized that I much rather take that time, energy, and money and put it towards the purpose and calling God has placed on my life. And now that my identity is no longer tied up in that dream or my new dream, I am free to pursue new paths without the fear of failure. Because I’ve been there, done that, and I lived to tell the story.