How Many Things Do You Want to Be Good At?

My experience in medical school is generally on the periphery of this blog, in part because it’s a blog about running and in part because I like having a section of my life that isn’t consumed by medicine and the torture that is becoming a doctor. That last statement is a bit tongue in cheek, especially over the past year. Anyone who was around me during the first year of medical school knows that I was miserable. I love people and being around patients and getting ripped away from the real world to study biochemistry was painful. Last night, however, as I was walking out of the hospital some 13 hours after I walked in, I found myself almost bouncing home and realized whoa, I am in love with my job. That’s not to say that I didn’t come home and almost cry when I realized I had 10 hours of work to do but only 9 hours til my alarm went off again and a strong desire to get a little sleep, but in general, what I get to do every day is fucking incredible.

In that vein, this week has been nuts. Will is back in Connecticut so I’m on my own with the dogs, the house and everything that goes into being a 32 year old with a life outside the hospital. Despite the fact that my alarm went off at 3:45 every morning this week, I still found myself running out of time to get my full planned run in and was so frustrated with myself on Wednesday when my planned 8 mile workout turned into a 4 mile workout. By the time I got home, I had convinced myself that I could never do a surgical residency because my house would be messy and I wouldn’t be able to get my runs in and would never see my family. Then I opened the door and the dogs were there, as happy as ever to see me and Joe made dinner (best friend ever) so I could get the 4 miles in and I just took.a.breath.

After I calmed down, we were talking about the limits of what you can be good at at one time. This topic is actually a big source of conflict for Will and I because it is one of the few areas in which we view the world entirely differently. I throw myself into things and my brain never shuts off, even when a commitment is done. Will walks out of the hospital and switches gears, leaving work at work until he goes back the next day. When he’s running, he’s running. When he’s watching tv, he’s just watching tv. In contrast, if I happen to be sitting on the couch, I’m practicing suturing, answering coaching emails, looking up articles for my next great research paper and thinking through all the unsolved questions of my day.

I don’t know which approach is best (probably somewhere between the two), but I do know that it’s definitely a place where I need to improve going forward. I will have plenty of time to be a runner; in fact, surgery ends in three weeks and I start a rotation with more time to train. I will get more time back to help coach the Nordic team. I will get a moment to call my mom.

The running related piece of this is that for the next few weeks, I’ve accepted that what I have time for is what I have time for and am working on being fully grateful for whatever that looks like. I’m so excited for some outdoor runs this weekend (even if the weather forecast is for rain, which will make our snowy sidewalks a mess). I’m grateful that I was able to run every day this week.

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