Where I've Been
On starting a new decade of life
It's been a while since I last wrote something here. To be honest it's been a combination of life stuff (i.e. finishing up med school and applying to residency) and not wanting to write in the name of many (read: too many) other creative projects that I wanted/still want to do.
I went back and read some of my old writing and felt like I didn't want to just write about specific topics but rather whatever I feel like writing about. I think that's the best way for me to feel motivated to write. It's selfish (maybe) but I think it's what's right (write? ha!) for me in this moment in time.
Of course, I don't want to waste anyone's time so if you were here for note taking app reviews or spicy thoughts about healthcare just know that although those topics may come up, they aren't the sole focus of this newsletter anymore. If that's not your cup of tea, no worries! You can unsubscribe here (I hope this link works) and I promise I won't take it personally. If you decide to stay, I appreciate you letting me take up another row in what is I'm sure an already overflowing inbox of email.
I turned 30 recently. I don't know about you but I always thought that the older I got, the more I would have figured out. And as we all clearly know - that is not the case. I remember being an elementary school kid spending my evenings at Jamatkhana (place of prayer for Ismaili Muslims) and seeing the 25-30 year old "adults" who seemed to have everything put together. They were active in the community, volunteered to help teach religious education classes, had jobs that gave them real money, and of course always looked super cool and suave. To a 9 year old, all of this was a very big deal.
As I went through my 20s, I came to quickly realize that everything I witnessed as a 9 year old was not how it seemed. I'm sure the people I saw in Jamatkhana had their lives somewhat put together but I can be pretty sure that they did not have everything exactly, perfectly figured out. This was a big realization for me because I was brought up with the idea that if you keep building on knowledge you'll eventually get to a point of figuring things out. The most obvious example of this is school - you take Bio 1 to understand and do well in Bio 2 and you take Algebra and Pre-Cal to understand and succeed in Calculus. My thesis was that if I put in the work, positive outcomes would come out of the other side.
Turns out that though the carrot and stick model works relatively well for school (given that a million other circumstances are also sorted out in your life and you have the ability to actually focus and be empowered at school), it does not translate as well into actual life. Almost everyone I've spoken with who is around my age has or is going through periods of self-doubt and general wtf-is-going-on (WTFIGO henceforth). For some, this is about career decisions and professional growth. For others it's about relationships. It can be about anything but it's there for everyone.
For me personally, my WTFIGO journey took me from general tech to health tech to medicine with part-time tech and now residency with some thoughts about what long term life looks like as a doctor with many interests outside of medicine and a strong fear of burning out. It's a lot to think about and sure it's overwhelming but turning 30 has actually brought me more comfort in this process. My 20s were great and I feel really lucky to even have the chance to try so many things and pivot and change what I want to do with my life. I learned a ton from everything I experienced and a lot of my life was ambition driven - what felt like chasing one thing after another, looking for the carrot after each stick.
Turning 30 has given me an opportunity to reevaluate a lot of things. The turn of a new decade is always an opportunity to start fresh and finishing up medical school as I turn 30 only emphasizes that further. Instead of going after the chase in this new decade, I'm hoping to slow down. I'm realizing that doing everything and doing it well may not be the goal that I am after but rather doing the things I want to do with real intention is what will make me happy (not to mention be a lot better for my mental health).
I'm also a lot more okay with the idea of not having everything figured out. It's easy to see now that this is what life is but I also wouldn't want it to be any other way. The obstacles and troughs of our experiences are what make the peaks so valuable and there is so much to learn no matter what point of the curve you're on. I want 30 to be the year of intention. That doesn't mean that I still don't have a ton of things I'm confused about because I want to do medicine, art, programming, etc. etc. etc. - I do want to find my way in all of my interests (a discussion for another time!) but doing so with intention and going slower is what I'm hoping to achieve as I start this next part of my journey.