I’ve spent my whole life waiting. Waiting to join my sisters in boarding school. Then, once I was in boarding school, waiting for the Christmas and summer holidays when we could go home. And all through high school, waiting to go to university, which, in my opinion, would be much better.
When I got to university, I was in a six-year program, so graduation seemed very far off—so I studied and waited and studied and waited.
The process repeated itself in medical school. Waiting for each exam to be over, then waiting to get my grades—only to be faced with the next exam, and the next one, and the next. Then came residency, along with all its challenges. I couldn’t wait for residency to be over, so I could really start living.
But then when it was over, after I started my first faculty position, I wondered What next? Without the structure of school or residency, it was hard to pinpoint what I was supposed to be waiting for. This long-awaited phase of my life had finally arrived, but it seemed there was no “there” there.
At some point, I became aware of the need to live in the moment, to enjoy the present for what it is. Living in the moment doesn’t imply that we shouldn’t plan ahead, only that we shouldn’t be so future-focused that we miss the present. I remember organizing a highly anticipated event in medical school, and then something happened the night of the event that upset me very badly. I’d put much time and effort into planning the event and it was very successful, easily one of the highlights of my medical school years, yet I could not truly enjoy it. When the event was over, instead of celebrating a huge success, I went home and cried. I had spent so much time anticipating and organizing the event, only to end up crying about something else when it was over.
I deprive myself of fully enjoying special moments when I focus on what hasn’t gone well or what is coming next. I have also waited for the “ideal” time to start or complete projects. The ideal time just doesn’t exist.
Now I’m waiting for the pandemic and elections to be over so life can return to normal. As I wonder if it ever will, I remind myself to live in the moment and enjoy the gift of today.