I’ve become accustomed to slow living. Before this year, I had an obsession with productivity. I no longer impose pressure on myself. This development wasn’t entirely an active choice. In part, being unemployed certainly helped, but ultimately it came down to my apathy towards life earlier in this pandemic. I knew I needed to get a job to save money for medical school, but I couldn’t bring myself to update LinkedIn or make connections. I knew I could’ve used the time to write more, but with more time than I’ve ever had came the least amount of motivation.
As the months went by, I grappled with different emotions. I fought against feeling sad by reminding myself of all the reasons my circumstance was favorable for the times. I had my health and the necessities. In adjusting my expectations for life, I was able to quell negativity. I don’t think I suppressed my emotions, but rather this change in my perspective gave particular emotions no chance to sprout; this is how I cope, it works, but it comes with losses.
In having this approach, I inadvertently suppressed my creativity. Often my best work is inspired by unfavorable emotions. Perhaps had I welcomed such sentiments, I might have created more beautiful things.
It is interesting, however, that this sense of apathy led to something very positive. I allowed myself to become slow. Anyone who’s seen me walk knows that I strut as though I have somewhere to be, and the long legs help. I’ve always considered myself late if I wasn’t 10 minutes early, and I always kept my to-do list by my bed for if I dreamt of something I needed to get done. I don’t wear my neuroticism on my face, I act relatively mellow as far as I can tell, but for as long as I can remember, I was always mentally ten steps ahead, fatigued from my thoughts, and never able to live in the moment.
This all recently changed. Waking up late or staring at walls no longer invokes guilt. I don’t rush phone calls with those I love, and I don’t care that my days aren’t deemed exciting by others. I relish just sitting without knowing what I have to do next because I’ve made no plans for my day. I’ve gotten used to this, and I have no idea how I’ll maintain the art of slow living.
Medical school and slow living do not seem compatible. Every medical student I know is hyperproductive and overworked. I have no regrets about this career I’ve chosen. It entails humility, compassion, knowledge, and many of the qualities I value. I owe it to my future patients to fully dedicate myself to understanding the mechanism and prognosis of a disease, but I must also remember that I am my first patient. If I am unwell, those I love and those I treat will not receive the best parts of me.
Although I’ll forgo indulging in slow living, I will keep from its lessons. I don’t know what this will look like practically, but the one actionable thing I will commit to is walking each morning without my headphones. I fill every bit of vacant time I have with a lecture, podcast, or youtube video. I’d succumb to being productive even in moments I had for myself. This will stop. While life will inevitably become busier than ever before, I will guard the moments that I’m not obligated to fill, like never before.
Peace & Blessings,