NONLINEAR PROGRESS DOESN’T = FAILURE
I typed these words in a note to myself last week as I was leaving a meeting with a mentor back in Virginia during a trip home.
She asked how residency was going and I started to say “good,” but as the word left my mouth I realized it wasn’t true. And we don’t do that sugar-coated surface bullshit in an effort to make the reality of our experience more palatable for others around here, so I took it back.
Instead I said “I don’t know.” And it’s true. I don’t know how to feel about it.
I feel lost and undeserving and out of place and alone and overwhelmed and grateful and ungrateful and tired and for the first time in a while I don’t have my shit together. Not an ounce.
It seems we expect things to continue moving in whatever trajectory they already were & when they don’t–when they veer off course or slow down in speed or god forbid take a big fat nose-dive–well, that feels a lot like failure.
The first year or two of medical school was for figuring things out. Learning the language & the unwritten rules & accepting what this new life and my role here would look like. There was a lot of struggle & soul searching & adjustment but after finding an outlet in my newfound love for narrative writing & officially becoming a certified yoga teacher, I came out on the other side. Things started to come together & life began to flow almost effortlessly at times. My creativity blossomed in this most unlikely of places & as I nourished that part of me, the rest of me was nourished too.
Medicine began to feel like it was meant for me–or rather I was meant for it. Some things became easier and those that didn’t showed up in my writing and my teachings and slowly I began to realize that they were helpful too. And then in the fourth year of medical school having completed all the prerequesites for graduation freedom finally returned, as it does for all of us, & I spent it living out all the dreams I’d dreamed for myself,
even those I’d never fully believed would come true.
I started publishing my writing on platforms with massive readership, traveled the world solo & matched into my first choice residency program while abroad, I taught yoga workshops internationally, shut off my brain for days at a time, worked with my hands, spent time in nature and in silence, started & ended my days when I wished and learned & ate & slept & moved all at my own pace. I don’t know that I’d ever felt so content and at peace.
Then residency started & within a few months freedom vanished all over again & this dream world of mine promptly blew up in my face. Doors weren’t as easy to open as I’d hoped and there wasn’t enough time or energy to take on more anyways. There was so much to learn & become that I couldn’t do any of it as well as I wanted to (enter: Imposter Syndrome–more on this, later).
And because expectations are a bitch I found myself feeling unhappy that I was unhappy.
Shouldn’t I be thriving now…more than ever? I’m at Stanford for crying out loud (this is the thought-leading-wellness-focused-ultrasupportive-you-can-dream-it-you-can-do-it-expansive-thinking-person’s mecca after all). For so long I’ve wanted to be somewhere like this & I can’t help but feeling like I’m wasting it.
Back home we’d somehow managed to successfully transition this massive organization Danielle & I built with success & now we’re running a freaking Bhav Brigade yoga teacher training. On paper everything is as it should be so I sit here banging my head against the wall wondering WHAT there is to feel so unsure & uninspired & insecure of?
And then I realize:
I’ve been here before. This is my process. This exact feeling is what’s always prompted me to look for more. It’s what made me a writer and a humanist and a creator and a yogi.
First the struggle and the soul searching and the questioning of everything and then,
comes the rising.
So I guess what I’m saying is that progress isn’t linear and that’s okay
and sometimes it feels like failure but it isn’t and that’s okay too because
EVERY FUCKING FLAVOR OF THIS LIFE IS WORTH TASTING.
And I hope you taste it, too.