No posts since November... I’m embarrassed. First the excuse was that I had an incredibly daunting comprehensive final to study for; then I was caught up in the relaxation of Christmas break and being home. Despite the hours of “decompression” (aka: blissful boredom), I didn’t find a spare moment to reflect. Then school started up again and I was kicking myself and wishing I’d written something, anything, to sum up my first semester in medical school. At that point, a vicious cycle begins where I feel guilty about not having written about everything, but the thought of trying to catch up on it all is daunting and essentially keeps me from even trying, but then putting it off leaves me with even more to report on, and… I’m sure you see the pattern.

And it’s no surprise that this happens to me in school, too. I missed the first two days of class this semester so I could be in Utah for my best friend’s wedding (I totally caught the bouquet, by the way) and I wish I could have caught up with school as aggressively as I pushed the bride’s little sister out of the way for those flowers.

But it’s been well over a month and the feeling of being behind, of knowing there’s so much I don’t know that I theoretically should, is persistent and exhausting. It puts a strain on my physical and emotional well being that I resent because even when I’m doing the things I need to do to take care of myself, I always feel like I should be giving more time to studying.

And yet… how often do I get everything out to start a hard-core study session (picture laptop buzzing, Mozart humming, hot tea steaming, whiteboard gleaming and papers scattered just about everywhere in what would seem like chaos to the naked eye but is actually in perfect order, just how I like it) and I suddenly remember: I need to water my cactus! And while I’m up, I should definitely go empty my bladder so that I have no interruptions whatsoever during the next five hours of fervent studying. And since I’m already in the bathroom, I should probably clip my nails so that I can hold my colorful Staedtler pens that much more lovingly while I make notecards. And I hate to say it, but I just can’t stuff one more dirty tissue into that trash, so I better take it out.

Before I know it, my laundry is done, the dishwasher is empty, the recycling has been reorganized in the garage for some reason, and my bathroom is spotless. Four hours have gone by and I’ve learning nary a thing about anemia.

Maybe it’s an evasive tactic to keep from having to acknowledge just how far behind I am and thus how much it will take to get where I need to be. Maybe it’s me taking control of the things I can and ignoring the things I perceive to be too much for me. Or maybe I’ve gone totally nuts and that floss-booger on the mirror really is staring me down as if we were in a Western gunfight. (Something tells me he won’t beat my lightning-fast Windex draw.) I’m not quite sure what it is, but I know that the constant nagging feeling is eating away at me and I just don’t like it.

I’m not sure where I’ll find the extra time to get back on top of things. The thought that I’ll have to sacrifice some other aspect of my life that will eventually be a source of unhappiness scares me. If I work out less, will I feel disgustingly sluggish and chubby? If I spend less time cooking and more money eating out, will I be broke on top of feeling disgustingly sluggish and chubby? If I never dance to music just for fun, will I lose my sense of playfulness? And the thing I worry about most, if I spend less time with the people I love, will I lose the relationships that mean the most to me and hurt someone else in the process? There may be some things I’m willing to sacrifice, but there are others that I simply refuse to give up.

I don’t think I’ve got it all worked out to the point of having a perfect equilibrium just yet. I want to explore different approaches and strategies with school and I want to have a life in the midst of all that. So maybe that means that one week I attend every lecture, every office hour, every review, and host a study group to boot. If, at the end of the week, I want to pull my hair out because I haven’t heard a joke about anything but macrophages in seven days, I’ll know that it doesn’t work. If I exercise twenty hours the next week and do five hundred jump-squats every day but can’t remember diddly-squat about neutropenia, I’ll know it’s not right. The important thing for me is that I keep my spirits up and keep at least keep trying to appease all the bits of me that need TLC. I don’t want to give up on the (probably very naïve) hope that I can everything I ever wanted, so I’m just not going to.

Maybe I’ll figure it out right away or maybe I’ll get it down just before we switch to a new block and I have to start the whole process over again. Or maybe I’ll never really feel totally balanced, but rather perpetually sliding between different extremes. Who knows, but I least I’ll know that I’m actively trying to make my life as happy and healthy as possible for myself and for the people I love.

((Just as a side-note, I’m sure my roommates are perfectly content with my procrastinating cleaning frenzies. And who on earth spends time reorganizing the recycling?!? Sometimes I freak myself out.))


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