These past few weeks have been extremely fruitful, not in the classic busy productive way (I wish) but in reframing how I approach things. I am the classic case of confusion- feeling both behind in sleep and schoolwork, while grasping for some sort of sign to shine out in bright words- “Hello Anna I am your major! Your future career! Your summer plans!”
On the polar end of this, I’ve plugged away my days in the library letting “good days” be defined by the amount of studying I can condense into a certain amount of time and ever changing to do lists, which magically never seem to diminish … I didn’t realize how much I absorbed this compulsive attitude until, when I was packing for a retreat (where clearly no homework was to accompany me) I had to fight the urge to pack my most recent to do list- just so that I could look at it from time to time. I wrestled my obsessive self in that moment and it hit me that I truly was an addict to routine, never being satisfied because there was always more to be done. I had made my personal anthem one of efficiency, productivity, and routine.
My determination to accomplish things paired with an ambiguous future led to adopting an attitude of nervous avoidance, one that I laugh about with my friends and typically brush off with a “I hope it all works out!” I feigned acceptance of a higher plan but found no ease it in because I could never fully let go. Then I had a horribly dark yet ridiculous daydream that came to me one day and seriously made me face how I was spending my energy.
I can’t remember where I was, but I was dreaming of a beautiful and intelligent (ha!) Anna who was finishing her residency and about to start her own practice. She had slaved over her studies and was burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt accumulated from years in undergraduate studies and medical school, but it was about to pay off as she could finally begin her own practice. She was so close and incredibly excited. However, on her way home she got in a devastating car accident and while her life was preserved, her memory was not. She got retroactive amnesia and could only remember up to her senior year of high school. Her diploma from *insert ivy league name* (this was a daydream after all) meant nothing and she was overcome with debt and no way to pay it. So she started a go-fund me that went viral on Facebook and then spent the rest of her days flipping burgers and sharing her life story to those in the drive thru line.
I just want to state that this daydream, as terrible and real as it seemed, hasn’t discouraged me from pursuing medicine. However, it naturally lead to me to evaluate how I approach my studies and consider future plans. Delayed gratification can be necessary to realize certain dreams of course and I do not deny that much of my time should be spent studying (I am a student after all!). However, I noticed that as my schedule and homework became foremost on my thoughts and my utmost priority, everything else began to degrade.
Last weekend, I sacrificed my time to attend an Awakening retreat in Chattanooga, Tennessee so that I could reconnect with what should be first and foremost on my thoughts, my spiritual well-being. On arriving, I was stripped of my phone and my watch, left with no way of knowing the time of day all weekend. How disturbed I was by having no regimented schedule, even in an environment where it was completely unnecessary, only highlighted what I described earlier. Last weekend was an absolute necessity in helping re-prioritize parts of my life. Once I did this, for the first time I found relief in being truly able to abandon myself to my future-trusting that if I worked hard, things would work out, that if one door closes, another will open. So, I am blogging again, making room for the people in my life, and attempting to appreciate that if I’m trying my hardest in my studies, that there is nothing else that can be done.