Hi! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.

Friday 2 June 2017

Bonding vs comfort zone

The second semester of my 3rd year of MBBS at NUMed was the Essential Junior Rotations (EJR). EJR consists of 5 rotations which were Long Term Conditions (LTC), Primary Care (PC), Mental Health (MH), Women's Health (WH) and Child Health (CH). Throughout EJR, I was placed in Group 2, but Group 2 was further subdivided into a few sub-groups for each rotation. For the MH, WH and CH rotations, there were 3 sub-groups, A, B and C, allocated based on the position of the students' names in the name list.

I was allocated to Group B for the MH rotation. I was really happy to be in Group B, because 3 out of 4 of my friends in my LTC sub-group and 2 out of 4 of my friends in my PC sub-group were in Group B as well. I didn't have to separate with my PC group mates and I also could reunite with my LTC group mates, so it was a win-win situation. Of course, this situation wasn't 100% perfect because I still had to separate with 1 of my LTC group mate and 2 of my PC group mates, but it was good enough for me.

However, there was a catch. The position of my name in the name list was 15, which is at the 'borderline' between Group B and Group C. It was by luck that I was allocated to Group B for MH. I knew of the possibility that for the WH and CH rotations, I might not be so lucky again and I might get reallocated to Group C instead. The thought of that made me feel insecure. I really liked Group B and I didn't want to separate with my friends in Group B.

Worst of all, I would be the only student in the whole Group 2 to get allocated to different sub-groups for MH and WH. As most of the teaching sessions in the MH rotation were conducted at the NUMed campus, there wasn't much opportunity for me to be together with my friends in Group B. Therefore, I really wanted to remain in the same group with them for WH and CH, where there would be more opportunities to further strengthen our relationship.

I was hoping all the time that I would be lucky enough to remain in Group B for WH and CH. Later, when I looked at the sub-group allocation for the previous WH and CH rotations, I found out that the 15th student in the name list was always placed in Group C. At that point, I realised that I was definitely going to be reallocated to Group C unless something is done. I knew that I couldn't just sit there and wait for a miracle to happen.

On 7 April 2017, I decided to meet the lecturer in charge of the WH rotation regarding the grouping. He was rather strict, but I took my courage to meet him. He said that I had indeed been allocated to Group C, so I requested for a switch to Group B. At that time, there was still 4 weeks until the start of the WH rotation. Despite that, he told me that the grouping was already close to being finalised and it would be troublesome to make changes to it. However, I refused to give up on that.

After a long talk with him where I tried to portray my strong emotions, the lecturer said that he would 'consider' letting me switch to Group B if I could find someone to exchange groups with me. One of my friend in Group B had offered to exchange with me since he preferred to be in Group C instead. Then, the lecturer told me that he would let me know the outcome within a few days. However, he didn't sound quite promising, and that made me feel very distressed.

Starting from 8 April 2017, I had 2 weeks of Easter break, but I had no mood to enjoy my break because of the grouping. On 9 April 2017, my parents bought me a train ticket from Kulim to Subang Jaya and I was given coach B on the train. My parents wanted to ask for a change to coach C since the train's cafeteria is in coach C and they knew that I like to buy food in the train. I straight away told them not to change it and that I was fine with coach B. I felt that coach C would bring bad luck to me for the grouping.

Eventually on 11 April 2017, the lecturer informed me that he had decided to let me switch to Group B for the WH rotation. I was very happy and relieved that my efforts was successful in the end. I didn't let any of my friends know about this, apart from the one who exchanged groups with me, because I wanted to give them a surprise.

On 27 April 2017, my friends in Group C gave me a 'welcome speech' since they expected that I would be in their group for the oncoming WH rotation. At that point, I told them clearly that my group would always be Group B no matter what and that I would never accept Group C as my group. That might sound somewhat offensive to them, but it was a truth that I had to let them know.

On 28 April 2017 which was 5 weeks before the start of the CH rotation, I went to meet the lecturer in charge of CH regarding the grouping. Once again, I had been allocated to Group C for CH. However, this lecturer was very nice and understanding. She instantly agreed to let me switch to Group B, without having to exchange groups with anyone. The whole process was done within a minute. I was definitely very delighted by this.

On 2 May 2017, the grouping for the WH rotation was released, and it confirmed that I would be in Group B. My friends in Group B were really surprised about that because they thought that I was going to be reallocated to Group C. After I told them everything, they congratulated me for my efforts and said that they too were very happy to continue have me in Group B. On 30 May 2017, the CH rotation grouping was out, confirming that I would be in Group B. Therefore, I stayed in Group B throughout MH, WH and CH.

So, what was the reason that I wanted so much to remain in Group B and not get switched to Group C? You may think that it is because Group B was my comfort zone and I didn't want to get out of my comfort zone by switching to Group C. Well, that's wrong.

In reality, Group C was a greater comfort zone for me compared to Group B, as I knew the students in Group C longer than those in Group B. I had known many of the students in Group C even before 3rd year of MBBS, while I only knew my Group B group mates in 2017. My relationship with everyone in Group C was also quite good. As my friends in Group C were quite carefree, I could do or say anything in front of them and they wouldn't get annoyed. In that case, why didn't I want to be in Group C?

Well, it all comes down to bonding. I am quite an emotional person, so I easily develop bonds with my group mates, bonds that are stronger than disulphide bonds. Because of the bonds that I had with my friends in Group B, which was particularly strong as they were my group mates since the LTC or PC rotations, I would feel very sad if I had to separate with them. Group C might be my comfort zone, but I didn't have bonds with them since I was never in the same group with them, instead my bonds were with Group B.

In the previous semester, I once made a mistake where I kept staying in my comfort zone, causing me to lose out on the opportunity to form a close relationship with my group mates. I regretted the mistake very much, and I definitely wouldn't repeat it again. I had come to realise that maintaining the bonds with my group mates is much more important than staying in my comfort zone. Therefore, I was determined to stay in Group B. I am really glad that in the end, I get to be in Group B throughout the MH, WH and CH rotations.

So, 'B' stands for Bonding and 'C' stands for Comfort zone.

Read the sequel of this story here: