One of the most powerful forces in our lives are the habits
we form. My 3 are losing bets, constantly going on micro-trips no matter how busy I am, and striving to fail.
1) Losing Bets
: Having "learned" from the bet that led me to Egypt, I would lose another bet that led me to apply to medical school. ...Say what
After the death of my father, I initially rejected medical school believing it was his
dream for me to be a doctor, and not my own. However, during my travels something stirred within my subconscious: perhaps I was rejecting an idea -- an entire career in medicine -- because
of him. What if I was actually meant to be a doctor all along, but instead I was about to live my entire life rejecting that possibility as an act of rebellion against my father without ever knowing? Or was this a sick version of reverse psychology emanating from his grave? Like the Iocane Powder "Battle of Wits" scene
from the movie "The Princess Bride", I didn't know which of my thoughts was the poison, or which one was more real.
In the end if I truly wanted to be free from his influence, I needed to decide for myself. But how? This mental jiu-jitsu frustrated me, so out of that psychological morass I said to hell with it
and took concrete action, wagering a bet to myself to apply to medical school to see if I was even meant to get in. The expectation was that I would get denied everywhere, check that box off, and be done with it.
Although I had a sub-par collegiate GPA and poor test-taking skills, everyone loved a good travel story. So I did just that with my personal statements and interviews; I definitely didn't half ass anything and always have put my best foot forward. And just as I didn't expect the aforementioned $650 roundtrip flights to Egypt, neither did I expect to get in anywhere. But one school found me “an interesting candidate" and wanted to take a chance on me: I got in.
You know the impostor syndrome where you feel everyone else in your class/work is smarter than you are, and you feel that you’ve been faking it all along and got in through the back door? I'm the actual impostor.
Shocked at the admission offer, I decided to see this as a sign and I didn't want to take an opportunity for granted. After all like travel, the only way to know for sure is to actually experience it, right? Thus, I decided see through medical school as far as I could without sacrificing any of my travels until I either graduated to become a doctor or failed out entirely knowing that medicine was not meant for me. I reasoned that if travel is what got me here in the first place, then the demanding schedule of medical school was going to give me the fuel to constantly travel. One should not exist without the other.
Despite more than a few close calls and almost getting kicked out a handful of times, I’m now a doctor and so so happy that I am. But it’s not the destination that really matters, it’s the journey
. And what a journey it has been.
2) During medical school I decided to make a habit out of micro-trips
: If I had 2 consecutive days off from school or work, I would try not to see those 2 days as another regular weekend to recharge, but rather an opportunity to make an international trip possible.
For example, if you can get on a flight out on a Friday night
, you can reach almost anywhere in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, or South America from the East Coast USA by Saturday morning
. You can consider the same for west coast USA to Asia, southern USA to Central or South America, or the Midwest USA to Europe. Then the next 36 hours anywhere is enough to explore most medium-sized cities and towns before you have to return Sunday night
My trip to Ireland in 24 hours with 7 people
best exemplifies this. Even The New York Times
has an entire column
how to travel “36 Hours
” for a weekend trip. We’re not the only ones.
3) Strive to fail
: But I know there are those of you who get exhausted reading about this in the first place, thinking that these micro-trips “not be worth it” and “I’ll wait until I have more
Is it fear that’s compelling the negative response? For fear never got us anywhere unless we reframe it as another challenge that we use to push our limits: The biggest risk you can take is to take none at all. Or rather, what I usually say, strive to fail
— meaning, if I’m not pushing myself to one step away from figurative failure, then I’m not doing enough with my life.
feel fear — what matters is what each of us does
with that fear. Perhaps fear shows us what the next step is
to push our limits, existing also to motivate us to achieve things we never thought we could. That's another habit I've formed.