Slow Down, It’s Not a Race

What up World? It’s been a minute! It’s actually been longer… but it sure feels like time sped up and somehow I landed here. A yoga instructor I had the other day talked the whole class about slowing down. It resonated with me and I wonder how many other people feel this pull to race to the finish. Funny enough, I’m not sure what that finish is yet. Is faster better?

In March, I finished up my 2nd year of medical school and started this thing called “Dedicated”. Basically, the school gave us 7 weeks to have focused study time for our first big board exam.  Step 1. It’s a little frightening when the message is to work hard at nothing but this one test.

During dedicated, I tried to cut out as many distractions as possible, and it was probably the most disciplined I have ever been. I’m talking a 9:30 PM bedtime with a 5:30 AM wakeup. I would eat breakfast and then head to the library for 8-10 hours. I did the things that would keep me human – like Crossfit, dinner with family, church, I skied once – but aside from that there was no fluff, and it was hard.

I felt disconnected in many ways from reality.

I tried to go on a date… then when he cancelled, I was devastated. I put on jeans and did my makeup for the first time in weeks. I even put on deodorant. No one should get that excited for a first date – just saying.

Then I watched a documentary called, “Take Your Pills”. It’s about ADHD and Adderall and competition and what we have to do to keep up in this crazy world – forget about trying to get ahead. It sent me down a spiral of wondering if this feeling of disconnectedness was my new norm. What was I sacrificing in order to follow my dream? I texted one of my friends in March saying, “I’m fearful that this will set a tone for the rest of my life”.

I took my test, and no, I don’t know how it went yet.

I’m not as fearful as I was then, but I do wonder sometimes how I plan to approach the many different priorities that will demand my attention. Google ‘physician burnout’ and you get over 9 million hits. Does that seem wrong to anyone else? Why are we killing ourselves for this? And who’s fault is it? Maybe it’s because I’m not doing enough to take care of myself, or maybe there are too many pressures to be the first to arrive, and then to be the best. All the time.

You might wonder why I did all of those things for this one test. It’s because I was playing the game that the national medical community says is important. It wasn’t my values, but the values of the world I wish to be a part of that I was prioritizing. It was a finite period of time, but what’s the future cost? I hope to be part of the conversation that helps to shift the priorities, to slow down. To value humans and to be present. To learn the material because we find it interesting, not because someone high up says that a certain score on step 1 is valuable.

It’s a rush to the finish. I feel my heart beating faster even as I write this and think about the valuable time that I’m “wasting” while putting words on paper.

Is it a waste? I sure hope not.

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