Some days I miss my life as an undergraduate student, when I completely cut myself off from the world and focused as much as was humanly possible on my studies. While it was a guaranteed path to long-term unhappiness and burnout, in the short run it was surprisingly easy. Get up, go to class, come home, study. Rinse and repeat. No attempts to fit in a life, no thoughts about "balance", just work. And I had four months off every summer (minus summer jobs), which gave me time to socialize and take care of necessary life maintenance activities like filing my taxes and cleaning the hovel in which I was living.
Since starting medicine, and in particular since my Dad got sick, I have tried very hard not to get completely sucked into my work and to maintain outside interests/connections with people. But it's bloody hard. Whenever I take time away from studying to visit with friends/family, I feel like I'm falling behind on my studies, and whenever I study, I feel like I'm neglecting the people I love and the long list of personal things that I need to take care of. Throwing photography lessons into the mix hasn't helped, as they take up three hours out of every weekend, plus I have weekly "homework" assignments, which thus far have served mainly to stress me out and make me feel like I'm vastly inferior to the other people in my class. After presenting my somewhat crappy photos in class last week, I wanted to scream at the stay-at-home moms* and retired women in my class that "I HAVE A JOB, PEOPLE!" and therefore can't spend all my time perfecting my assignments for photography class.
While this feeling of overwhelm is a somewhat constant for me, I think it's worsened at the moment by the fact that my efforts finally (FINALLY) seem to be paying off at work. Whereas a year and a half ago I was getting comments about my need to improve my knowledge base, lately I've been getting a lot of positive feedback on my performance from attendings whom I highly respect. And while it feels great, it also makes me feel compelled to study more - but at the expense of what? What do I cut from my life in order to create my hours in the day for studying?
*Yes, I know that being a stay-at-home mom is a lot of work, and no, I do not mean to disparage them with my post. It's just that they have the advantage of being at home and able to take photos during daylight hours, whereas I haven't seen daylight on a week day (except through hospital windows) since about October.