Off the Shelf
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They say dreamers aren’t doctors

So they kill the dream

Tests with trivial details we have barely seen,

let alone remember.

Classes for at least eight hours a day

And make sure “free time” is spent the same way:

memorizing, learning, studying, reading

I can fit more in if I give up eating.

Restless nights — cramming? or incapable of sleep

It’s funny how hard it becomes to count sheep

when we are gasping

the world’s weight crushing our lungs

you’re grasping at straws

but you’ll just pull the short one

— and then tell us it doesn’t matter anyways.

No, they say

You will never be one hundred percent.

And that’s okay


We hear an echo in the blackness behind our eyes

A voice twists their words, laughs and replies:

you are nothing.

you are worthless.

Give it all, and know how little that is.

So pointless to drown out the words

When it’s obvious you can’t swim.

And we are left gasping again

Water closes over our heads

So clear to us no one else can see it —

clear as glass until the moment it shatters.

Let’s sit here holding sparkly shards that used to be dreams

Stargaze those lofty expectations we’ll never meet.

They do not realize that we bleed

And if you admit it, then you’re weak.


Head down, push harder, give it your all

We sprint on towards the edge that we will not see

Until we are flying in a glorious free-fall,

Plummeting from heights we never knew we reached.

Ileana Horattas Ileana Horattas (1 Posts)

Medical Student Editor Emeritus

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Ileana began her first year of medical school the fall of 2014 at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. She hopes to become a doctor one day; more importantly, she hopes to live anywhere that gets sunlight for more than three months a year. As one of six children, she has learned many important life lessons about how to eat really fast and the importance of not being last to shower. These lessons come in handy now that she lives with five of her classmates, without whom she couldn't imagine getting through medical school.