“What are you doing this summer?”
The first time I was asked this question (by a classmate), I sheepishly expressed my intent to sleep. This classmate further pressed: “but seriously?” I elaborated on my previous answer and I described my plans to travel, read, write, and (most importantly) sleep. That answer was deemed acceptable.
The summer after the first year of medical school holds the infamous moniker of “the last summer.” There is tremendous pressure to make the most of the extensive period of free time. Some initiate research projects; some shadow physicians and regain motivation to pursue medicine; some travel the globe; some take classes for a second degree (MBA, MPH, etc.); some engage in impressive volunteer efforts.
I just want a vacation. In fact, I need one.
I have found medical school to be exhilarating albeit exhausting. The course material is interesting but immense. The pace of school is swift yet survivable. I have truly enjoyed my first year of medical school. Nonetheless, I feel mentally fatigued.
I often wonder why I feel so drained. I made sure to sleep 7-8 hours (minimum) a night; I made sure to take one night (minimum) off from studying; I made sure to employ de-stress techniques when life gets a bit crazy. Why am I so tired?
A friend of mine mentioned that my medical school life is different from my college life in a fairly significant way: my academic career in college featured more balance. My course schedule always featured a pleasant mix of literature and science. “All you talk about now is medicine or public health. We don’t talk about books anymore. We don’t discuss photography.” He elaborated: “Of course you’re tired. You’re tired of studying the same kind of thing over and over!”
Maybe he has a point.
As an undergraduate, I was a member of a women’s magazine. I wrote articles, I edited articles, I planned events, and I organized photo shoots. I took creative writing classes to balance out my science course load. Open mic nights and film festivals gave me such a mental reprieve from my premedical coursework. I admit that I miss that life. I miss being in a community that promoted the balance of art and science. I’ve done a poor job of recreating that balance in my new academic home.
Last night I dug up some images from a shoot where I served as the primary photographer.
These images as well as unfinished stories remind me of my life as a creative. This summer, I plan to reconnect with that life. I have a slew of books to read, some stories to polish, and a collection of films to analyze. Here’s to making the most of Summer 2015.