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Summer’s almost over. I’m driving back from Atlanta this weekend. Orientation starts 7am Monday morning, followed by a full day of lectures and… an ice cream social. Going back and forth has become somewhat normal for me over the course of my first year in medical school. Fortunately, the med school administration, counsellors and curriculum are supportive of such a life outside of school. Still difficult, but you learn to adapt.

One lesson that I’ll try to take into this year is about boundaries and simplifying life when possible. I discovered (surprise surprise) that I have the habit (a big surprise is coming) of saying yes to every possible volunteer activity and overcommitting myself. Now, it’s always meant a lot to me to finish projects that I start, and to do what I say I’m going to do. These are good virtues. But the quality of “less is more” and “give yourself time” are harder hats for this guy to wear.

I’m a person who likes many things — just look at my (over-abundance of) experience before medical school. There is always one more interesting project. Another cause to be championed. And never, ever, ever ever ever, a shortage of worthy pro bono work to be done. Years ago, I learned to stop doing these projects (good projects!) for the goal of receiving a “thanks.” But the sheer force of habit continues to pursue a myriad of projects.

My mentor (as did my fiancé) told me a few times over the course of last year, that the first year of medical school is as good a time as any to practice saying “yes” and “no.” Yes to the things I must do. That fill me up and give me more energy. And to the things that simply must be done. And “no” to a lot of other stuff. There is so much good stuff out there. SO MUCH. But it’s OK to set limits with yourself. And it’s important to communicate these to others.

So, as I get ready for the second year of medical school (evil mantra: it’s hard and it only gets harder), I’ve looked at a list of suggestions from past students. Every bit of coexisting and contradictory and worthwhile advice. And I know this for sure: there will be an abundance of room for practice.