Simple Questions

Why does Friday take so long to arrive, but Monday is just around the corner?
Why are the most beautiful colors of fall actually a physical depiction of ending?
Why do the hardest struggles result in the greatest personal growth and deepest introspection?

Why is it that the simplest questions, are the hardest to answer?

It has been a pretty crazy last two months — I guess that’s to be expected since the last time I made an appearance here was at the start of August. That wasn’t actually a long time ago, but in so many ways, it kind of feels like a lifetime.

Things that have happened since then…Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 10.22.22 PM.png

  • I’ve taken 5 exams — 2 anatomy lab practicals and 3 much longer (neurology-related) exams of the multiple choice variety
  • I’ve raced a half marathon — the fall Chicago Half Marathon at the end of September
  • I’ve moved out of my first ever “big kid” apartment
  • I’ve moved into my first ever “holy-crap-I-bought-this” condo
  • I have a car (my hand-control adapted car) in Chicago that I can use to drive where I want, when I want, including making a surprise visit home after the Psychiatry exam last weekend.

Yea, just a couple highlights of the past two months (with some pictures to go with). I think there’s so much I could say about each one of those experiences that I don’t really feel the need to say anything. I guess that doesn’t make much (if any) sense, but sometimes “making sense” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 10.24.12 PM.png

I love where I’m at — physically, mentally, and emotionally. I adore my new place and the fact I now have a bedroom and a patio. I’ve survived what most consider to be the hardest modules of medical school and am starting quite a few activities (classes, co-curriculars, etc) that I’m truly excited and passionate about. It’s a great place to be and it’s a place I intend to cherish and embrace. I guess that place I’m referring to is more related to where my head is than my physical person.

The last two months have been really challenging. Don’t worry, nothing crazy has happened. My family is doing well. My health is as good as it always is. I’m financially stable and still surrounded by so many great friends, colleagues, and mentors in the Chicagoland area. Yet, the day to day grind of life that never seems to stop, information you need to learn, assignments you need to complete, random to-do list items that won’t do themselves — was draining. I was exhausted. Stressed. Burnt-out.

It’s embarrassing to admit that. To recognize that I can’t always “do it all,” that I’m not some infallible being, that I have a limit to what I can manage, and I found where that limit lives.  We talk about wellness and taking care of ourselves in med school all the time. I think I was listening to all those conversations, but I don’t think I was really listening.  I don’t think I was processing through the obvious knowledge that the things we hear about in our lectures and see in our “medical life” can impact you in unexpected ways. Psychiatry was definitely a module of surprise and (slow) realization.

I feel as though I can breathe again. I had the opportunity to “take a step back” after my last exam, got out of the city, and was lovingly welcomed home by my genetic family and my WI church family. I can’t even begin to describe how refreshed and fulfilled I felt and continue to feel after that visit, being reminded why I’m here doing what it is I’m doing and I guess that’s my point in sharing all of this.

I recently started a seminar on the topic of writing OpEds and using narrative medicine for advocacy (we’re required to take a course in Humanities). The very first session, our professor projected a list of questions onto the screen we were then supposed to “free write” about for a max of 3 minutes. The first question on that list: Who are you?

Who. Are. You?

Three minutes isn’t much time to answer such a question, so I was somewhat relieved when writing a page response to answer that (and the other questions) was the assignment given for the session. I say somewhat relieved, because I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time asking myself and pondering that seemingly simple, 3 word question.

It’s a big question. And I posit it’s a question that could never be answered in a lonely page of words but instead is only satisfied by a lifetime of actions, interactions, and experiences.  And that’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do, what we do, each and every day.

We strive to push forward while embracing where we are.
We work hard, we play hard, and then we work hard again.
We discover who we are, who we want to be, and just how to make that happen.

And we make it happen.

Each day I’m learning a little more about who I am and who it is I want to be. Perhaps that’s why it feels as though August was so long ago — I’ve discovered things about myself, my passions, and my desires that I hadn’t consciously realized before.

This year has definitely been one of discovery, making it everything but boring.

So here’s to discovery.
To reminding ourselves who we are and who we want to be.
To living. To learning. To trusting. To growing.

4 thoughts on “Simple Questions

  1. Janice Ingalls says:

    You are amazing as always, Sam. Congratulations on your condo! Love your updates and happy to read your life is going well. Keep up the great attitude!!!

  2. Nancy Jahn says:

    Awesome !!We can all learn from what you learned about yourself. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us. God bless you as you go forward. Was great seeing you in church.

  3. Elaine Springstroh says:

    Wow, Sam!! You are amazing and your blogs give me lots of food for thought. Just love the way you’re growing, sharing your insight into things and keeping a great positive attitude. How awesome to have your own condo and car!!! Sorry I missed you at church! Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated.

  4. Terri Nida says:

    You’re right – you don’t have to caption your pictures. You look beautifully content with your life. I am impressed by all you are doing. It’s often difficult for me to feel purposeful. But I found writing a blog and becoming a mentor at the local hospitals has been fulfilling. Keep inspiring me with your blog post!

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