If there’s one question that I’ve been asked non-stop since starting this authorship journey, it’s “Why now?” “Why not wait?” “Don’t you have enough on your plate between medical school, traveling for clerkship rotations, meeting Air Force physical fitness requirements, etc.?” And the answer is, most definitely, yes.
Of course all of those things are a part of my life, and a part of my life that I value. But if the recent COVID-19 epidemic has taught me anything, it’s that surety is a luxury these days that few can afford. Who knows what the next few years will bring? Who can say what disruptions will alter the rhythms of our lives?
When COVID-19 hit, I was one of the many medical students turned away from an overrun hospital system. I felt lost, unsure how to spend my time and grappling with the same uncertainties that were plaguing everybody. Here I was having studied and trained for years and the moment arrives when the world needs healthcare professionals more than ever…and I’m completely useless.
Writing became an outlet for me, a solace that gave my days purpose and meaning. It both helped me make sense of the world around me and transported me away from it, to a world whose problems were just different enough that I could half-forget that they were really our own.
I’m back in the hospitals now, and hopefully set to finish my training on time and become a physician. But if there’s one thing that COVID has taught me, it’s that I can’t depend on just one thing to bring me happiness in this life. I love medicine and am thrilled to be a student doctor. But I also love to write and I’m happy to say that there’s room in my life for both.
What’s more, there’s room in your life too.
Maybe you’re an accountant, a teacher, a pastor, or a police officer. Those are all wonderful and worthy things to be, but they are not all that you are. This is a trap that I fell into for years, and one I think medical students are particularly guilty of: thinking of themselves as some uni-dimensional entity. You are not one thing.
It’s really important that you realize this. Because in life, inevitably, there will come a day when you find yourself failing at that one thing. You won’t get the promotion, you’ll fail an exam, or you’ll have a bad parenting day. You will fail, and the key to surviving failure is to not have one aspect of your life being the sole source for your identity and sense of self-worth.
So give yourself permission to explore your passions and be a happy, healthy person. For me, that’s writing, being creative. It’s embracing another way of using my brain, my time, and my energy.
Find your passions. Live life at the intersection.
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I am proud of you girl. I didn’t write and publish my book until I was 82 years old but then I hadn’t just graduated from Harvard, and wasn’t attending medical school while writing my memior. Love you, Grandpa