Balance and Vision: Get 'Chu Some
Two words I have learned to cling to: balance and vision.
Did I always want to be a doctor?
I wanted to be a thousand different things. Mostly an astronaut.
I dabbled in veterinarian, dinosaur, Amelia Earhart, and Prince Phillip from the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty.
But a doctor? Never.
When I considered my life, I did so the way that most kids do: by figuring out what I liked.
I always liked being outside (I still do). I liked animals (that hasn't changed). I did not like sitting on my bum (a lifelong hate, apparently). But at the end of this list, I did not have the magic word of medicine spelled out. I kept searching for my passion, but even in undergrad, I didn’t see myself in medicine.
The only medicine I was interested in was natural medicine -- you know, hippy dippy stuff.
A few years later, I found myself entangled in an admission process with no real end-goal. It's a nerve-racking downhill race full of mini-failures. At the end of that twisting racetrack typically lies a soft padded cushion of acceptance and celebration, or a cold, brick wall of rejection and failure. But my track just... ended. I was accepted, but I have never considered getting into medical school as a large success. Even my parents were unmoved.
They didn’t think this was the route for me, and I just didn't know. But I had made it, and I wasn't going to stop now. Instead, I decided to start a new race: my first year of osteopathic medical school.
I lost and found myself about thousand times on that year-long track.
Fun. New people. Hard tests. Fear. Uncertainty. Annoyance. Type-A personalities galore. Bouts of mini-depression. Bouts of sheer joy. Learning.
Learning how to truly appreciate the small things in life that bring me happiness. I’ve learned a ton-about myself, others, and, obviously, science and medicine.
Lately, however, as I continue racing, I’ve been struggling. Not so much with school, but with my purpose.
Specifically? I’ve had this urge to abandon it all; to leave the course, cut through the cheering crowds and scream “I’m done! See ya, I’m going Cheryl Strayed on all y’all!”
And that's not an exaggeration. I really want to. Especially on the beautiful Friday morning I write this. Conforming seems to have that effect on me. It brings out the rebel.
I’ve daydreamed about leaving.
What would I do? Would I feel better? Worse? I've climbed into that thought – the thought of quitting—and truth be told, it’s a sexy thought.
No tests, no competition, no waking up early and going to bed late, no endless to do lists, no pressure.
But when I live in that thought for a while, it begins to haunt me.
I think about what my other twenty-something year old friends are doing. I think about people who quit their job and are essentially professional hikers or travelers. How do they feel? And although I don't have a definitive answer, I have a pretty strong guess.
I think we all share these wild, rebellious feelings. I think it's human.
We all feel lonely, stressed, unfulfilled, annoyed, sad, happy, loved, unloved, confused….
So, do I have a problem? Is my urge to go totally rogue, live in a bus and eat tree bark for the rest of my life all that unusual?
I'd say no. Well, maybe the bark thing isn't totally common, but other than that...
The urge seems to come from a lifelong existential crisis. Since I dreamed of being a dinosaur, I found myself wondering what I wanted out of this life. I longed for fulfillment. Walking like a dinosaur wasn't cutting it, so I kept searching until I found an answer.
Hiking and traveling are fun, but I knew they'd become unfulfilling after a while. They wouldn't fulfill me. So what would?
What would challenge me?
Balance and vision.
I had been a biology major, so I’d taken most of the prerequisites to get into medical school. I had to take a few more classes and the dreaded MCAT. Meanwhile, I was working as an AmeriCorps VISTA. My experiences clarified my vision.
My vision was being a leader in a new wave of true wellness. And, people, it’s-a-comin’.
Now, I’m here, in med school, and sheesh... it is tough to hold onto that vision. But I’m not letting go.
My vision is what keeps me going. If I don’t have it -- if I don’t have inspiration -- I have nothing. I hold onto who I am in my core. If I forget who I am -- if I abandon what’s important to me and who I love -- I have nothing.
Vision: to be a fearless leader in wellness, healing, healthcare, education, community, and love.
Balance: to never forsake who I am, to get outside, soak up sun, exercise, eat good food, laugh, love and be loved, jam out to music, study super-duper-duper-extra hard, enjoy learning, take breaks, make mistakes, and move forward.
Balance and vision.
Do I struggle with these things? Is the sky blue!? YES! Of course, absolutely, 100%, no doubt I do. I mean, I just told you I wanted to go eat tree bark!
But I don’t want easy. I want meaningful.
I still want to travel, go hiking, and take hiatuses. I'll never be a perfectionist. I'll do things in moderation, and with enjoyment; they’ll be more meaningful in that light.
Balance and vision.
Oh, last thing, be kind to yourself.
Osteopathic Medical Student - 2nd Year (OMS II)
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences