Finding balance in medicine

By Jia Cheng Tan

As life goes on, we are bound to encounter more situations where we are forced to sacrifice something in return for something else, and hence forced to weigh the consequences and choose the option that we feel would bring out the best in us.

Since teenage years, there was always an urge within myself to accumulate new experiences, to try out new applications in school societies or internships that I understand would require a huge commitment of my personal time without giving much thought to how it would actually impact on my stress level and bonding time that I can have with my friends or family.

I gradually realised that sometimes in the midst of planning for the future, I overlooked much happiness in the present that, in hindsight, was actually much more valuable to me than anything merely studying or working could provide me with. But sometimes, we are too preoccupied with creating the best future that we fail to appreciate the simple moments in the present that could well be what makes life worth living.

And sometimes, it is through losing something that allows us to start appreciating their importance and acknowledge their value in our lives.

I started to understand that each area in life, be it family, friends or study, contributes its own level of satisfaction and it is impossible to utilise the satisfaction in one area to compensate for the lack in another.

For example, it is unrealistic and impossible to transfer the satisfaction that we get from good grades or an ability to come with a good CV to compensate for the emotional vacancy that results from not spending quality time with our family or friends.

However, it is through living independently and away from home when I commenced my university degree that made me realise how important family and friends are to me, allowing me to reevaluate my priorities in life. It is the Skype calls with family and heart-to-heart conversations with friends that kept me through some of the toughest hardships I have experienced.

It is the solace we find through being able to talk about our problems with our family and the inside jokes that close friends share that let us smile through the number of anatomical terms we try to remember but somehow can’t manage to the day before our exam, the humiliation we feel when we were expected to demonstrate in a clinical skills tutorial but fail to deliver, or the times we return home after a long day of classes but were too exhausted to cook dinner.

I realised the importance of balancing work with play, the art of keeping contact with friends that you don’t get to see often, and the importance of making time for family and creating happy memories that would keep us going through the difficult times in life.

It is through balance, and not solely focusing on any one area in life that brings out the true satisfaction that life has to offer.

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