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Contributed by Ethiopis Tadesse

This picture is one of my favorite meme’s on the internet. (A meme is an image typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.) It is from the movie The Hangover, one character is commenting on the reckless driving of the man you see in the picture, and his response is: ‘But did you die?’ And at the time I laughed and forgot about it but then I saw this meme in many different places and it got me thinking. A lot of the things that happen to us-as challenging or devastating as they might seem at the time- may leave us changed, but at least we made it out alive! And truly, that’s what matters.

I remember about 6 years ago when I was a first-year medical student, I was preparing for my oral exams and my fear got the best of me. I remember shaking, forgetting all the things I had prepared for and thinking that failing that exam would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Then I called my older sister to help calm me down, and she asked me one question that I will never forget- ‘If they ask you a question, and you are unable to answer- will they pull out a gun and shoot you?’ And as ridiculous as the question sounded, I answered ‘Of course not!’ and then she was like ‘Then you have no reason to feel the way you’re feeling now.’ And this situation helped me gain perspective.

I have often felt this way when I am put on the spot, and the fear of failing, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of judgment would cripple me. But then after the situation passes, I ask myself the question ‘But did you die?’ and that simple funny question helps me put my anxiety into perspective- to understand that as long as I am alive, I have a chance to try again, to do better and be better. And by practicing this, I try not to let my fear get the best of me.

So if ever you have this feeling where things seem to be going wrong and there is no tomorrow, just ask yourself, ‘But did you die?’

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