I walked into the conference room to see an anxious classmate named James talking to Troy. That particular day he was worried about “The Match”: the process of applying to medical residency. The familiar feeling of tightness in my chest came back as I couldn’t help but overhear James ponder every permutation of what can go wrong in the process. After several minutes of this, I was frustrated. I sent a text to my friend sitting in another part of classroom to complain: James… I can’t right now.
My friend commiserated: No self awareness.
That night I had dinner with a friend who just started residency. I shared with her all of my fears: whether I’ll be a good doctor, whether I’ll be tired and unhappy, and whether I’ll get out of shape in residency. Later on I realized that I had done to my friend what James did to our class: unleashed the burden of my anxiety on a bystander. My friend probably left that conversation feeling as frustrated as I did earlier.