Caveat: this blog post, as with all my blog posts, only reflects my own views and opinions; and also only at the point in time at which they are written; and are subject to change at any time without warning. I would apologize for this, but why apologize for personal growth?
I’ve always wondered what I’d do if I had no responsibilities – if I could do whatever I wanted to do with my time… and now, I know. Prior to this COVID crisis, the earliest I expected to feel this way was retirement, around age 80 or so (actually, I anticipate to never retire – just to pull back on my work hours until I can no longer work.) In fact, my friends and I would often joke about it in high school: “ha, we’ll have to wait until we’re retired to enjoy that!” as we felt nostalgic toward our idealistic futures, without any responsibilities or time restraints. Last month, when we were released from clinical duties as 3rd year medical students, I felt a mix of disappointment and excitement… I was actually enjoying my internal medicine rotation, which trust me, was a HUGE surprise. But I was also dreading the upcoming EKG and NBME exams. The school assigned us some online modules (a lot, actually) and now we’ve moved onto our next rotation so I have weekly lectures too… but for the most part, I don’t have to wake up at 5am and come back at 7pm, and with nobody to regulate my time, I’ve really been taking this time as a pre-work retirement break.
I’ve learned a lot about myself during this time… It’s one thing to imagine what you would do in a situation, but sometimes that doesn’t align with what actually happens: in the wise words of Miss Gia Gun: “What you wanna do is not necessarily what you’re gonna do.” I’ve wanted to do so many things that required time I didn’t have: start my own website (check!), paint, learn pottery, create jewelry, photograph clothing to resell, etc. What would I do if I had the time? As it turns out, all of the above. I’ve been keeping myself busy every day with my projects – to the point that I’ve felt hypomanic at times (I’ve never had a bout of depression so unlikely to be bipolar.) Is hypomania a synonym for “passionate”?! I remember not eating and staying up late to finish a long novel as a kid; or working nonstop on my final project for my scientific illustration class. Now, I’m staying up until 4am on my latest project: A Bloom of Color. I had started buying art materials that added up to a large sum $$$ pretty quickly. I started painting, and making wall hangings, with ideas for even more stuff! Then my close friend shared that she needed money desperately for basic living necessities due to losing her jobs during COVID and getting hit by a car, and I was like “OH WOW here I am sitting at home spending all this money on crafts n shit when someone actually needs this money to like, LIVE!” BUT THEN I had an epiphany — I can just donate the monies I get from my arts & crafts to her! So, all net sales from abloomofcolor will go directly to my friend, who would prefer not to be named, until the end of this month! I’ve already gotten several orders which has made me SO HAPPY. I have never ever sold a piece of art before, so I did not expect or realize the emotional connection I would have with the piece and the buyer. Since I am currently offering custom orders, it makes it all the more special as I think of which colors to fit the space of the customer, and create with them in mind… AND to then think that my piece is hanging on their wall, to be loved and admired daily by their viewers, is truly an honor!!!!
I always knew I was an introvert, but people keep trying to box me as an extrovert. Let me tell you this, which has been confirmed during these isolation times: I very very very rarely feel lonely. I can probably go months without physical human interaction and feel great. I get all the social satisfaction I need from my instagram and texts and facetimes, and frankly I don’t even need those. I’ve enjoyed my time in isolation more than any other time in recent history… I thrive on creating. This confirmation of my core identity is reassuring. Part of me was scared that when I got old, if my friends and family died, that I’d have nothing to live for. What would I do? What if I couldn’t travel the world, either physically or financially? Would I just sit around my room, watch TV and eat KFC every day? (Don’t get me wrong, that sounds ideal for a Friday night to me, but depressing if a daily occurrence.) Now, I feel assured that as long as I am able to move my fingers and walk, surrounded by plants/nature and had art supplies, I would enjoy life as much as ever, maybe even more.
Speaking of, that reminds me of one of my first patient experiences I had, during my first year of medical school. There was an elderly patient who had issues with his eyesight – he was seeing double, and this bothered him immensely because his hobby was creating intricate designs on eggshells, which was near impossible without perfect vision. He showed me photos of his work, and they were exquisite. He didn’t sell his art, just displayed them in his house. I admired him because he gave me hope that 1) at an elderly age, I would still have an immense amount of excitement and passion to try out and learn new things if I wanted; 2) true artists are everywhere – we may not see them because they don’t always have an internet presence, but they’re out there. His desire to create without any socio/economic gain made him a true artist in my eyes: he created solely for himself. I also loved talking with him, I wish I could’ve kept in touch. Is there anything better in this world than mutual respect? I have met many a patient like him, who I thought were superb humans with immense talent and grace, and I marvel at the relationship that we all have with each other.