Letting Go of Expectations

From hectic life in the USA to island life as a stay-at-home-wife, this blog follows the musings of an anxious Type-A as she learns to slow down and tune in to the important things in life


Month: September 2017

The Art of Slow Living

Slow living is not something I’ve ever been good at. I’ve always had things to do, places to be, and people to meet. It wasn’t that being really busy made me particularly happy, it was just how I thought life was supposed to be. And how it would always be.

When we moved to the island and I started the blog, though, one of my main goals was figuring out how to live more simply, be happier, and disconnect from how frantic life is at times. It’s a journey I’ve been on – at times more mindfully than others – for the last year.

Letting slow living into my life is something that has changed gradually. In many ways, it has been like watching a kid or a plant or a pet grow. When you’re with them all the time, you don’t notice how big they’ve gotten until you look back at a picture or previous memory. Then, all of a sudden, you realize how much they have changed.

That’s how it was with learning to slow down my life. It’s not that I’ve noticed a huge change from one day to the next, but rather when I look back on my life a year ago, I notice that relaxation and slow living was harder then.

The Difference a Year Has Made

For instance, I have a partially written blog post titled, “Why Being Too Busy is Bad.” I didn’t get very far into writing it, and for the life of me I can’t figure out where I was going with it. Now, it seems obvious to me that being constantly too busy could be a bad thing. A year ago, though, that was quite a novel concept.

I was also in a yoga class recently. At the beginning, the instructor led us through some relaxation breathing and reminded everyone to be present on their mat for the hour. Our responsibilities would be waiting for us at the end of class, but it doesn’t do any good to think about them or worry during the class.

I put aside my thoughts of what I would be having for dinner after yoga – which can be quite a task for someone who loves food like Pooh loves honey. In that moment of peace, I remembered trying to settle into yoga class last year.

A year ago, I was in the middle of my “quarter life crisis”. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or how I was going to figure it out. For once in my life, I wasn’t working or in school, and that lack of identity made me really uncomfortable. I had no idea what to do with myself during any free time, which I suddenly had a lot of.

Settling into yoga class then was an active struggle. Now, after a lot more practice and a year working on slow living, it is a whole lot easier.

The Benefits of Slow Living

Learning how to slow down my life has been incredibly rewarding. I no longer feel like I need to schedule something for every moment of every day. I have time to appreciate the little things, like a nice cup of tea in the morning.

It has also helped me to get my anxiety under control. Removing the extra tension caused by the fast and frantic nature of my life lowered my overall stress level. I still have anxiety, but I feel better equipped at managing it now.

It also makes island time much more enjoyable. If you’re in a rush, the extra time that it takes for things to get done on an island can easily make you frustrated. Whether it’s waiting for food in a restaurant or waiting behind a car that has stopped to chat with someone on the side of the road, I no longer feel tense when something takes longer than expected.

One of the things I appreciate the most is being able to relax. Free time used to be my nemesis. I could schedule it into a day, but I would never actually relax enough to enjoy it. Now, I appreciate a lazy Sunday morning with a good book or sitting outside and watching the sunset in the evening – without fixating on what I have to do next.

The Key to Slowing Down

I believe that slow living is more of an art than a science. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, just try things. Maybe going on walks helps you slow down. Maybe it’s playing an instrument, or drawing. Don’t be too rigid about it, though. If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happier, try something else.

It doesn’t have to be a drastic lifestyle change. Maybe you just decide to be more mindful and present in the moment for part of your day, like on your commute to work. Just remember that the key is time.

At first, your mind will wander. Take walking for example. At the beginning, you might spend the whole walk thinking about work, or the kids, or your to-do list. Over time, though, your mind will slow down. You will begin to notice the trees and the sky and the changing seasons.

Maybe that’s the first lesson in slow living. Coming to terms with the fact that it is going to take time and practice to get good at it. It will take work. As an anxious over-thinker myself, I know it’s not easy.

Then again, things that are worth it never are.

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

What to Expect as a Med School Wife: Year 1

Medical school is a long and grueling process. Students have a ton of studying to do, often on little sleep, and the whole thing is stressful and competitive. Everyone knows what the students go through, but it’s harder to know what you should expect as a med school wife (or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé).

For Husband and I, year one of med school is over and he is already in the thick of year two. We survived year one! It was no walk in the park, though. A LOT has changed since then, and much of it has been for the better.

Maybe you’re just beginning life with a medical student and want to know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Maybe your significant other is in the process of applying for med school. In any case, these are all the things I’ve learned about life as a first-year med school wife.

med school wife view man studying at desk with his back to camera and dog laying on bed

I have gotten used to this view.

It will take time to adjust

You may have to move to a new city for your significant other to start med school. If that’s the case, you’re probably leaving friends, family, and familiarity behind. What makes that even harder is that you’ll be doing most of the adjusting and exploring on your own as soon as they start school.

Even if you don’t have to move, the life you had with your significant other will change. You will have a lot less time together. For many people, med school also means having to implement a stricter budget as you watch the student debt pile up.

Things will be hard. Some days you may cry and wonder what you got yourself into. Know that it’s normal, and give yourself time. Little by little, it will get easier. Things will get better.

The stress is real

Med school is every bit as hard as everyone makes it out to be. It’s one thing knowing it, though, and a completely different thing living it with your significant other.

There will be long nights, early mornings, countless hours spent studying, and exam weeks from hell. It’s very likely that your student will be more stressed out than you’ve ever seen them before. You never want to see them unhappy, so it’s hard to watch the pressure pile on.

All of that can affect your relationship and your own happiness. I’ve found, though, that the best way to help with the stress is to understand that…

Medical school will consume all your student’s time

Considering the hours that are necessary to be successful in med school, it’s no surprise that things such as laundry, dishes, and housework will get left by the wayside. No matter what arrangement you had about housework before, they will not have time for any of that now.

The best way to relieve some of their stress is to give them less to worry about. Make dinner, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, pack lunches, pay the bills. I guarantee that they will appreciate it and it will improve your relationship, even if they have too much on their mind to thank you in the moment.

The last thing you want to do is take time away from their studies. I’ve found that Med school students are like cats. They’re not helpful around the house but you love them anyways. No matter how much you love them and want to cuddle them, though, you have to wait until they come to you.

There is a lot you don’t yet know about how to become a doctor

It’s not as simple as going to medical school for four years and then becoming a doctor. There are board exams, clinical rotations that you may do in one location or many, residency, matching into a residency, and a whole lot more.

Since you’re along for the ride, you’ll find yourself trying to figure all this out alongside your student. Especially if you’re the planning type, the confusion and uncertainty about where you are going to end up might drive you nuts but fear not.

You will figure it out as you go

Before you know it, you will start to pick things up. Pretty soon, you will know what an OSCE is and when they need to take the Step 1. You might not know everything yet, like when they need to take the Step 2 and Step 3, but you will have more confidence in the fact that you will get it all figured out it when you need to.

This will help you get better at going with the flow of med school. I no longer agonize over what is coming up and where we’ll end up in a few years. One of the things that has aided me in letting this go is the people I’ve met along the way. Which brings me to…

You are not alone

When school first starts, there is orientation for the students and they get to know the other people in their class. During all this, you might feel like you’re on the outside looking in, but you’ll soon find that there are lots of other people in the same position as you.

Get to know these other med school wives, husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends. They will become your close friends and some of the only people who understand the struggles of having a significant other who is in med school.

Between this new friend group and other resources, you will learn everything from what to expect in your next year of med school, to the best cities and hospitals you and your student may go  to along the way.

Your relationship will get stronger

There are a lot of relationship changes that will happen while your student is in med school. Maybe you’ve moved to a new city and you have to learn how to rely on each other more. Maybe med school means a shift in what each person brings to the relationship, such as when I stopped working full time in order to support Husband at home while he is in school.

It is hard to keep the stress of medical school from creeping into your relationship. At first, you may fight more, feel lonely, and wish things were different. But if you’ve made the commitment to stick by each other through good times, bad times, and exam weeks, you will work it out.

Not only that, but every time you work things out your relationship will become stronger. Then, when new challenges arise, you can meet them knowing that things have been hard before and you both have worked through it together.

You can enjoy the ride

Medical school comes with plenty of uncertainty, sacrifice, hard work, and tears. There will be moments when you hate the situation you’re in. You might even hate your significant other for asking so much of you while they’re in school. Overall, though, you can choose to look at each change and challenge as an adventure and a learning opportunity.

Medical school has taken Husband and me from the Midwest to the Caribbean. As someone who has a hate-hate relationship with change, I was at first really apprehensive about the move. We went through some rough times at first getting used to our new island home and his med school schedule, but now I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.

Unlike this time last year, I am now looking forward to the rest of medical school, changes and all. I’m excited to see where else this journey will take us and who we will meet along the way. If I’m going to be with him through this process, I may as well make the best of it and enjoy the little things.

There you have it! Those are the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a year-one med school wife. It seems like a lot, and I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting. If you take nothing else away, though, remember this:

It will be hard, but you can do it. Do what you can to help your student, and you’ll both get through med school just fine.

Do you have questions about being a med school wife, husband, or significant other? Are you already on the journey through med school with your student and have other advice you would like to share? Comment below!