It’s becoming that time of year when everyone is asking, what’s next? What will you be doing after residency? Where will you be living? Have you started applying for jobs yet? It can be easy to get caught up in only thinking ahead, to what the future might bring, both in an exciting way and also in a stressful way for its lack of certainty. But in these thoughts of only the future, we run the risk of missing out on the present.
I had been doing just this, getting so wrapped up in where I might be next year (thoughts of Latin America) that I wasn’t being as present as I could be where I am right now (not Latin America). I was envisioning a simpler life, with a strong community centered around the people who I would live near, everyone sitting outside in the evenings watching kids play in the streets, no one staring at some electronic screen. It was there that I could help, make a difference, bring my skills as an optometrist to good use.
I had gotten so accustomed to envisioning this life for myself, that I had to stop to ask, what is it that I am really looking for? Is it just to be somewhere new? Is it a simpler way of life? Is being in a developing country really the only way I can make a difference? What about where I am right now? When I let myself stop and be present where I am, I love it in Boston. This has been my first year of nine living here as a “real person,” not only as a student. It’s allowed me to meet people outside of NECO or my undergrad communities through common interests. It’s been exhausting moving as much as I have in the last 5 years (at least 8 different times) and comforting to finally start to feel like I’m settled somewhere.
The community I’m looking for, when I think about it, in a lot of ways, I already have right here in Boston: not too far from family and close to most of my friends, with plenty of new people to meet every day. The simpler life? Take time to disconnect. Be more present in each interaction. Helping people who have had limited access to eye-care? I do that every day at the health center, and am continually pushed and inspired by those I work with to delve deeper into the bigger issues facing many of our patients who are oftentimes relatively new to the United States.
At the height of these questions racing through my head a couple of weeks ago, my mom pointed out to me, “You love Boston! So, what’s the problem? Just be there.” That was a really important moment for me to re-shift my thought process and realize all of the things I could potentially be missing out on in the near future if I constantly think of my current location as only temporary (as it has been for the past few years just by the nature of the optometry program). Focusing on enjoying where I am, making the most of each interaction and the opportunities I have been grateful enough to receive each day has brought me to a much more peaceful place right here in Boston. Wherever you are, the key to enjoying it is to be where you are.