Noam Raiter, c2022
It was the first week of medical school. I was eager, bright-eyed, and incredibly grateful to be sitting in a lecture hall filled to the brim with other like-minded students. They tell you once you get into medical school, you’re set… They tell you It’s basically impossible to fail out and you have endless support and opportunities at your fingertips. In contrast, I spent the last three years studying tirelessly to keep up my GPA, spent an entire summer indoors studying for the MCAT, and filled my CV with tons of impressive-sounding initiatives. I thought I was set. Turns out, there is more to being a medical student than how you look on paper.
During a panel discussion on physician wellness, the presenting physician highlighted the importance of having a life outside of medicine. I like to believe I have quite a good grasp of work-life balance. I always make time for my friends and family, to relax and watch Netflix, and to get to the gym a few times a week. However, I quickly realized, I didn’t remember the last time I actively worked towards something that I wasn’t planning on putting on my resume. What are my hobbies? Do I have any? Have I ever had any? As I kid, I took lessons in: dance, karate, swimming, skiing, skating, art, piano, and gymnastics. I also quit my lessons in: dance, karate, swimming, skiing, skating, art, piano, and gymnastics. I had all the opportunities at my fingertips but there was just nothing that really stuck. Nothing that got me feeling particularly excited and inspired. At that moment, sitting in that lecture hall, I realized I didn’t have any hobbies.
I began my quest on finding myself a hobby. Being the type A, perfectionistic medical student that I am, I couldn’t sleep at night knowing I wasn’t well rounded enough. Maybe my hobby would be knitting? cross-country skiing? fencing?
So, how do you find a hobby when you’ve never had one? Begin with what you know… I stopped trying to rack my brain about what potential hobbies exist, and I began to recall all the things I truly enjoy. Even if I didn’t do them regularly. I love to write. I always have. Whenever I was given a writing assignment in school I always enjoyed it. Why should I only confine my writing to when my GPA is at stake? I love to bake. Some days I am just sitting in bed and get the random urge to bake something incredibly specific, like matcha sugar cookies or vegan cheesecake. So why don’t I actively try to become a better baker? I love working out. Whenever I get the opportunity to rant about the benefits that exercise has on our physical and mental health, I take it in a heartbeat. Maybe I could write about that? Maybe I could sign up to run a 10k and have a goal to work towards?
So, what did I do? I started a blog. I started writing more, talking about things I’m passionate about, sharing my recipes, and exploring my passion for healthy living and wellness. Sure, I still do research for the topics I write about, but it is so refreshing to work towards something completely distinct from my school work.
We all need hobbies. We need creative outlets. We need to figure out who we are outside of medicine. I know it might seem like there is no time left in your day. You have classes, electives, research, extracurricular activities. But I promise, time spent on things that bring you joy is not time wasted.