We talk about balance a lot.
We read articles about how to have a balanced diet. We listen to people talk about how to create a balanced schedule. We try to balance work with play, exercise with rest, social time and alone time.
Don’t get me wrong— balance is crucial. But hanging on to this ideal throughout the wild world of medical training can be a source of stress and unhappiness. We become angry with ourselves for not achieving this balanced utopia on a day to day basis. We compare ourselves to those who look like they are doing it correctly. We become frustrated and confused because we can’t seem to acquire it.
We need to reconsider the way we think about balance in order to let ourselves off the hook, so to speak. For a while, we need to allow ourselves the freedom to be unbalanced as hell.
Medical school is mayhem. There is no structure for balance here, no way to step away from this world. The theoretical scale does not measure medical school against other things; but rather, medical school is the scale. Everything exists within this framework. Accepting that life is going to be wildly unbalanced right now can help to understand that you are not the problem—you are absorbing your environment correctly. It’s not set up to prioritize balance. Understand that it is totally bizarre and abnormal and ridiculous… but that everything is going to be just fine.
I think of balance now on a larger timescale. I used to think each few days should equilibrate in work versus play, stress versus rest, and time for myself versus time for something else. Now, however, I will go days and weeks at a time feeling sleep-deprived and stressed. Balance, then, comes on a scale of months. Over holidays. Over breaks from school. Wherever I can find it. In fact, if we extend the time scale long enough, balance comes later in life— via job security and financial independence.
So as you return to study on this wonderful Sunday (as I know you are doing), know that it is okay to be feeling how you’re feeling. Of course everything feels out of whack—that is because it is. Let yourself be unbalanced now. Equilibrium will be achieved when you give yourself the time to achieve it.