My Booming Frontal Cortex

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Unborn Ideas by Catrin Arno

Unborn Ideas by Catrin Arno

I remember it clearly. I was twelve years old and one day, without any precipitating events, I looked at the world as if with new eyes. I felt as if I had been living in a bubble, and suddenly the world was big and I wasn’t a child. Or I was, but I didn’t want to be.

It was my first experience with “growing up” and I can only postulate that as it was roundabout the time that I hit puberty, my frontal cortex was busy myelinating like crazy. I of course believed that my brain was fully developed and that old people who claimed it was still developing were, well, old – but what would a twelve year old know, right?

It wasn’t so rapid this time but I think I may be having a similar experience now. I have been trying to put it into words but having largely neglected any kind of writing besides the odd blog post, that hasn’t gone so well. It started with a feelings of disconnect and then intense reconnection; and a lot of confusion about my role in society as a doctor, a daughter, a sister, a partner, a citizen. Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Attitude

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I hate platitudes. I hate when people say, “You can get through anything if you have the right attitude”. It negates the fact that sometimes, circumstances are atrocious. It puts the onus on people to grin and bear it, instead of on the system to change.

I’m not saying I’ve changed my mind, but I noticed something recently. I’ve met two community service doctors who were both placed in departments where they REALLY did not want to be. The nature of your community service year is that you get placed where you are needed and not necessarily where you want to be.

via @bunnybuddhism

via @bunnybuddhism

Continue reading

Ten Books Which Feature Characters with Agency

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Sometimes I get really tired of reading books where characters don’t have control. Some of the most popular books out there have plots that happen to people. I don’t want life to happen to me, I want to happen to life, and I like to read books like that too.

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I first learned about the concept of “agency” during my Illness Narrative class during Semester at Sea. It’s still a concept that is hard to describe, but I think the gist of it is that someone with agency is able to act within and upon their environment.* To illustrate, the conclusion of Mockingjay really annoyed me because it essentially stripped Katniss of any semblance of agency she had (if you’ve read the books, I think you’ll understand). Continue reading

I Hate Med School – And That’s Okay

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Here’s a quick post-call ramble: I had a pretty bad night on call last night.*

And it was still better than medical school.

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Base Image by DearFreshman, click for link

I hated med school.

In first year, I hated the loneliness. I had went in hoping for intelligent conversation with the country’s cream of the crop and at least initially, I could not find it. What I found was a narrow-minded and selfish little campus, and I hated it. Continue reading

DIY ≠ Change Agent – But Right Now, It’s All I’ve Got

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My medical school always made a big fuss about training us to be “Change Agents” – so much so that I guess it sometimes became a joke to us. The idea was that we would be active role players in whichever environments we found ourselves instead of sitting back and complaining, but it often seemed like an unrealistic expectation, given some of the challenges we face in public healthcare.

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As I was reflecting on the past three months, I caught myself thinking: have I been a Change Agent? (And then I automatically almost scoffed at myself. I like the idea of being an agent of change but the term is so over-used that I have come to hate it.) Continue reading

Conversations in Zambia

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This post brought to you by a lovely few days spent in Zambia with Lisa. Yes, I am on leave for a few days. Much-needed!

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Everywhere in Livingstone, Zambia:

THEM: Where are you from?

ME: South Africa

THEM: Oh, we are neighbours! I will give you neighbour-price!

*proceed to give me normal tourist price*

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My miniature baobab which I bought for SIXTY FREAKING RAND. But I love it.

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The Passion Deception: Beyond What You “Like”

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Last week, I wrote about how the idea of “passion” can overwhelm us into unrealistic future prospects. I actually got some good feedback from readers, which leads me to believe that I am certainly not the only one with this experience.

But if you’re a high school student – or otherwise at the threshold of choosing a career – you might wonder, WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? If you have been told your whole life that you need simply to do what you love (and you’ll “never work a day in your life”, yada yada yada), you might not know HOW else to choose a path forward.

My suggestion? Ye ole’ trusty mindmap.

Many of ours (mine included) may have looked something like this:

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When in reality, it probably should have looked something like this: Continue reading