I tell myself that I’m too busy, that my work is too hectic, and everything is moving much too fast. That this is not what I wanted, not what I signed up for. My choice to do post graduation in preventive medicine was fuelled by the idea of having evenings and weekends to myself than by an aptitude towards fieldwork or academia. It was during our compulsory residential internship that I came to this conclusion. My rotations started with three harrowing months in the department of Medicine, followed by just slightly better ones in Surgery and OB-GYN. After nine months of running around wards getting shouted at by superiors, my final posting was in community health. This entailed one or two-week postings in rural/urban health centres where I assisted in outpatient management. The work was largely redundant – repeating the half-a-dozen available tablets in various combinations for people coming in with complaints of myalgia and acute respiratory infections, or sanctioning repeat prescriptions for diabetes and hypertension – but it allowed me to have evenings and Sundays to myself, to watch movies, and to read. Oh, to read. I vowed to myself that all I wanted was a degree in something that would let me read for pleasure.
Fast forward to 2021, and I’m drowning in responsibilities. Joining a reputed research institution, among the best in the country and the world, comes with perks of global networking, exposure to titans in the field, and the opportunity to perhaps become one of them some day. On the down side, a lot of things are expected of me, and the journey from expectations to fruition takes time and effort, both of which I’m reluctant to part with.
I’m lazy. Never been a hard worker. There you have it.
That being said, I’ve definitely crossed some bridges that I never wanted to reach in the first place. I remember being appalled at the idea of a colleague working during her vacation when I first joined, and that is precisely what I did last last week; making field visits and micro managing a project from home on almost every day of my 7-day annual leave. I frankly do not identify this person anymore.
Change is a strange thing. It creeps in when you’re not looking and catches you unawares. Whether it is that crinkle by your lips, or the flab around your hips. You try a favourite blouse one day and realise that it’s a tad too tight around the arms. You decide to pull an all-nighter and lose the struggle to stay up past midnight. You come across an old photograph from college and realise the girl in it looks so much younger than you do, although you could swear, you could swear, that the person in the mirror never ever changed. You tell yourself you’re lazy and laid-back, always has been, always will be, and grapple with the identity of this other person who seems intent and concerned about achieving so much more. Someone talks to you about how they would rather join a mediocre teaching job with less hours and a fat pay, and you are surprising to find the tint of distaste that’s rising in you. You realise, on some level, that even as you were coming into terms with everything that you are, just as you got all the traits pinned down and in array for inspection, you don’t recognise yourself.
I have not been giving my opportunities the respect they deserve. Talking to MN yesterday, I couldn’t help gushing over how amazing it is to be doing what I’m doing right now. It was a stroke of luck to be placed here, and I should be doing a better job. I need to be cutting down on the self-imposed distractions and focusing on what would make me feel fulfilled in the long run.
I’m not too busy, work is not too hectic to handle, and nothing is happening too fast. The days and nights are blurring, simply because I make them, because I’m trying to remain the stubborn twentysomething who has some quirky views on how her life should unfold. Clarity comes when you raise your head and take a hard long look at everything that surrounds you, at all the dreams that lie scattered, and the way they frame your face in the most brilliant ways if you’d just let it. If you’d just pay attention and savour each moment.
Sometimes it’s not about going against the flow, but riding the tides with the gentle awareness of every droplet that carries you onward. Across the hazy spray of incessant tasks, I can see the dewy magnificence of a future awaited. Sometimes it’s about allowing the good things in, and being their aide.
I clutch the oars and roll as one with the waves.