I’ve been pondering this question for the last 48 hours; mainly because I recently borrowed The Courage to be Disliked from the library. I haven’t started the book yet, but seeing it on my bedroom floor makes me cringe. I’ve spent so much time over the years to be liked, even if it meant not voicing my own opinions for the fear of causing conflict.
I love being a like-able person and have a fear of being disliked. I pride myself with being the person 91.4% of the world gets along with (note: an A- on my self-created likeability scale). However, I recently realized that it must be empowering to have the courage to be disliked. I sometimes fantasize about confidently ignoring other people’s expectations of me, marching boldly into unknown territory (usually, a forest), and living out my soul’s desires. Maybe my need to be in nature to “find myself” is the result of reading three of Mary Oliver‘s collections of poetry within the past week, or perhaps, it’s something more. Deep down, I know my most genuine self is hidden from the world (and myself), as long as I intend on staying like-able.
Lately, my neural reward system has been relying heavily on external validation via Instagram and it scares me to see how much I thrive on external validation.
Why can’t all the approval I need come from myself?
I’ve thought about deleting my Instagram, but most of my blog traffic come from people finding it via Instagram, so I’m not quite ready to delete it just yet…
It’s weird to call this corner of the internet a safe space because it’s actually not. Despite that, I write as if it is. This is my way of practicing vulnerability: sharing my life through my writing and by being open to getting feedback that may not be pleasant. By not waiting until I deem myself a perfect writer, but putting forth my best effort, regardless of the final outcome.
I’m also reminded by this space that my thoughts do matter. I like to think I have the potential to create something truthful and beautiful and this blog is my attempt to do so.
Hi there! This is my way of going back in time to let you know that things do truly work out in the end. You’ll be beyond ecstatic to know that the 2018 you is starting med school in a month. I also want you to know that you got into multiple schools all over the country, including one of your dream schools.
While I address this letter to you, this is really to help any pre-med student needing some advice and reassurance.
Happy July! Since it’s no longer June, I wanted to make a post on the books I’ve read this month and write a blurb about what I thought of them. I’m not writing summaries, since those can be found Goodreads or Amazon. I’m also forever traumatized by writing lengthy summaries for book reports back in elementary school…so again, no summaries.*
Book recommendations are always welcome and appreciated! Let me know what else I should read this summer!
*If you would like to pay for my med school tuition, I will gladly write a summary or two.
What I finished:
1) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara Ever since the Golden State Killer was caught, I’ve been on my library’s waiting list to read this book. I had high expectations for this book; My Favorite Murder raved about how amazing the book is, as well as several people at the yoga studio I go to approached me when they saw me with this book. However, I was disappointed when I finished the book. While I enjoyed reading parts of it, I wasn’t a fan of how choppy the book was and I found some chapters to be incredibly dry. (Note: I know other people complied Michelle McNamara’s research and writing to create this book, but still). Definitely an unpopular opinion, but I’m hoping someone else felt the same way I did.
2) Life Inside My Mind by Maureen Johnson et al.
This book is a collection of authors sharing their experiences with mental illness. I loved each and every single one of these stories because there would be a sentence or two or even a paragraph, that deeply resonated with my own personal experience with depression and anxiety. I was shocked to find out that some of my favorite authors have mental health challenges. I think I still buy into the idea that if one is successful, their lives must be perfect…which is obviously wrong and often far from the truth. I am grateful for their courage to share their struggles and am inspired by their resilience to continue producing meaningful work, despite what may be going on in their lives. I wish there was a book like this with physicians writing about their physical and mental health challenges.
Growing up in the Bay Area, I’ve never spent much time in San Francisco. The last time I was in SF was when a friend from Maryland came to visit. That was back in October 2017. Whenever I’m in the city, I do the usual touristy things. Go to Pier 39, get a clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin, say hello to the sea lions, spend a few minutes watching street performers, and end with Ghiradelli sundaes. I’m not a fan of SF traffic and overpriced parking, but the cool breeze and being by the water always makes my heart happy.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my friend about how I hope to eventually move to southern California. Ever since I went to college in LA, I have wanted to live in LA for the long-term. My fellow Bay Area native friend was offended and shocked to hear this. Ever since then, he has made it his mission to find ways to convince me that the Bay Area is so much better than LA. Which led to this sailboat tour in SF.
If someone had asked me how I’m really doing today, I would have said that I am struggling with anticipatory anxiety with a side of imposter syndrome. The closest I got to saying how I really felt was “I’m good, just a little stressed.”
I feel like every little thing bothers me when I’m not feeling my best. For instance, I forgot my towel today when I went to yoga session #1 and had to rent a towel. I was still annoyed with myself hours after the class for forgetting my towel. I didn’t even let myself fully enjoy the class, because I kept thinking about the towel I left at home.
I was the unfortunate recipient of unwanted male attention today, while I was volunteering this afternoon. While I despise having to do this, I am mindful of what I wear when I go volunteer every week. Today, I was wearing a loose navy shirt and shorts. The shorts I was wearing were a pair I have worn to service before and since I did not get any creepy comments or unwanted attention then, I assumed I would be safe wearing them again. I wore no makeup and kept my hair in a messy braid, so no one can touch it. I realize now that none of those things really help deter this type of attention, but more on that later.
I’ve gone to yoga four times this week. Even more importantly, I’m listening to my body during my practice.
For the longest time, I compared myself to other people in the class. I would find myself upset when they could do a pose that I couldn’t and then immediately feel guilty for engaging in this comparison game. I also hated modifying poses. I’m pretty sure having that stubborn mentality resulted in some injuries.
Two nights ago, I had trouble sleeping. I try to be in bed by 9 so I can read to unwind.
Lights out by 10, at the very latest.
Last night, I was still wide awake at 10:20.
I slept for a bit until 11:02.
Tossing and turning, the next thing I noticed was that it was past midnight and I was still up.
Frustrated and confused, I gave up at that point.
I unplugged my phone from the charger and started scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Checked my email. Messaged a friend, telling him that I couldn’t sleep and that I think it was because I spent too much time reading the news. I must have fell asleep at some point because I didn’t read his reply until I woke up this morning.
A few months ago, I visited a close friend who lives and volunteers full-time at a house of hospitality on the El Paso and Juárez border. She lives and works with individuals and families that cross the border, and also leads immersion trips for college and other groups that stay at their house. The house she works at runs entirely on donations and volunteers, like her.
My med school orientation begins early August. The last time I checked, I had 53 more days until then. My housing situation is set, my immunizations are (mostly) done, and I’m actively looking for furniture (why are queen-size mattresses so expensive?!)…but I digress.
I’m nervous about starting med school. Will “med student” become my entire identity? Will my other passions (reading, writing, yoga, etc) will be pushed aside, for when I determine that I am “done” studying? What if I never finish studying? These are the thoughts that bounce around in my head, as I attempt to cherish the final weeks of freedom. As I read one of my 15 library books, my mind continues to interrupt me with newly formed what-if’s.