Recognizing Limitations

I read back to my older entries in this blog this morning. Every time I pause during the past two years, I am always surprised at how much I have gained and how much I have gotten to known myself. Recently, I have had to go through the agonizing (and very fortunate) process of deciding between medical schools. In December, I was accepted to one of my top choices in the bay area. The situation was simple then. But a month ago, I was lucky enough to receive an email about acceptance to another program, with quite unparalleled opportunities in global health.The former offers the ideal environment for me to grow as a person; the latter for me to grow in my passion.

A year ago, the decision would have been simple. School B. Even a few weeks ago, I thought the same. My strengths have always been my resiliency and my adaptability. But then, I remembered my last trip to Haiti.

When I returned from my last Haiti trip, it was because I was deeply unhappy. I was burnt out in every sense of that word. I lost sight of some of those initial motivating factors that drove me to Haiti in the first place. The reasons for my unhappiness were complex. I still believed then and now that working to level inequalities is where my path lies. However, it is now about finding another path to that – a sustainable one that allows me to keep in sight all of the things that drew me to it in the first place. And part of that is recognizing my limits as an individual. It is about creating the best environment for me to give back so I can keep giving back.

Over the past six months in the bay, I have been recovering and finding balance. I sat down and identified the things that were lacking in Haiti, with WWR, that left me so deeply dissatisfied. There were so many that cannot be changed, but also some that can be helped. The lack of support and community was a particularly significant one. Now, about to enter another intense period of my life, I can’t unlearn these things I know about myself and I can’t put myself in that situation again, knowing it will take away from me what I loved about it in the first place.

There is a pride that comes with this, with having gotten to know myself better and with having been able to accept my limitations. My strengths are still my strengths, but they are not to be abused simply because I am capable of surviving through rough times. Surviving is not enough. I want to thrive because I love what I do. I don’t mean I see it without challenges or hardships, but that I am simply not so exhausted that I can’t remember why I had chosen to be there, do this in the first place.

Doing global health projects during medical school will be difficult. This is not the time to sap myself of my idealism. When I do my masters and can devote a year to thinking about global health – Boston will be the right place for me. Right now, it is not. The bay is.