Tough Times

I know of tough times as I have weathered some of the worst but this past couple of days rocked my platform to my very core. I found myself becoming unraveled in situations that generally cause little stress for me. My usual resources of meditation, running and prayer were not working as I floundered in my situation. Fortunately for me, a very nice colleague listened to me and advised me wisely, “not to blink”. Today, I can see the wisdom of his advice but I feel very stupid for allowing this situation to become unnerving for me.

Yes, I am alpha enough to demand that I perform at my very best always. I started to question even why I got out of bed yesterday. From my very flawed perspective, every bad event in my life was additive. I couldn’t find any “port in the storm” where I could “dock” my sailboat. I plunged on and on into the darkness. Yet today, I can see my path and plot my course. I corrected my course but can’t find the resource within myself to find forgiveness of myself for being so stupid.

I know that I am not superwoman but I do accomplish tasks on a regular basis that other people simply cannot understand. To this end, I need to stop asking others to “understand” and seek the wise counsel of those in medicine/surgery that “walk in my shoes” from time to time. While I can’t conceive of not doing the best that I can with my clinical work, I didn’t fare well when my teaching was brought into question. A bit of reminding from a colleague that I am a surgeon who has to make life and death decisions, often without the benefit of complete information. To this end, my training has always served me well.

In teaching, that same training has served me well too. It becomes easy to criticize when one does not prepare lectures, plan curriculum and ensure that carefully-planned curriculum is delivered in a manner that ensures the growth and development of students. No, medicine is not easy but I was fortunate to be given the tools to keep my practice at a very high level and impart those tools to those who are training under me. If you don’t practice as I practice, you are only looking into my world from a distant outside.

The fact that I am questioning myself and my ability is testament to how much I care about my academic work. Yes, I will likely weather this storm but as I learned the origin of the criticism, I find that these types of issues have more to do with “ego” and little to do with what will work best for the education of students. In this case, it’s not my “ego” but the extreme insecurity of another, who has no concept of what I do or teach. This makes it easy to walk away from teaching.

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