The beautiful angel of a doctor pulls down her mask as she transports her patient safely to the intensive care unit. She helped save a life today. She provided an airway, she gave breaths and blood, she alerted the surgeon to trouble, she is a hero. The surgeon shakes her hand and thanks her for a successful case.
As she drives home, she feels a hard pit drop into her stomach. She realizes that she forgot something. How did she forget to thaw the ribs from the freezer? Some friends are coming over for a BBQ in a few short hours. She is tired and disappointed. In her mind, the party is already off to a rocky start.
Can you relate to being human? As physicians we are required to pay attention to every detail. We are called to over function. We can’t make mistakes. It’s not surprising that our expectations for ourselves as doctors often carry over into our personal lives. Just like in our professional life, we often feel that there is no room for error.
I am going to challenge you. What if I encouraged you to drop the ball in the right circumstance? The first time someone told me to do this, it relieved my anxiety in a way I can’t explain. It made me feel normal. When we don’t over function, we can breathe. Literally.
A party is a great way to practice dropping the ball. I just know that you want the perfect food displayed beautifully, plenty of seating, and of course cold microbrews rounded with a rare wine selection. You want your party to be the talk of the town.
Think about this question and answer it honestly. Would your guests still associate with you if your party was only average? Will they rumor that your hosting skills have gone down hill. Why do you even care? Why do you even have parties? Let’s be honest, they are no fun for us.
A year ago, I decided to host a 4th of July party. As the date came closer, my guest list got longer. I had homemade pizza dough in the fridge that I would use to make personal pies for each one of my guests. I not only had cooking duty but I also had to set-up and clean up. I was convinced that it was impossible for me to host a party that I actually enjoyed.
Let’s consider that we can and should have fun at our party. Let’s remove the pressure of perfection. How about we stop worrying about creating maximum awesomeness for every detail. Sometimes average is ok. Perhaps our average is some else’s amazing.
The point is that we don’t have to host a party the way we practice medicine. Sometimes taking care of our patients requires us not to be human. But, we can always allow ourselves to be human for activities that are supposed to be enjoyable. What can you do to make this possible? Perhaps you can ask for help? This would be a good start.
We all experience the extremes. It is beneficial to decide which tasks we need to perform perfectly versus the ones that we can do just good enough. Then we can strive to live somewhere in the middle- most of the time. Staying in the middle keeps us in the perfect spot to flex up or flex down when we need to.
I want to leave you with some final tips. When it comes to hosting a party, the people matter most so focus on quality not quantity. Make sure your quality friends like to clean. Under no circumstance is making homemade individual pizzas for 30 guests a good idea. Forget at least one major detail on purpose and see if anyone notices. And next time that you have a chance to save a life, always forget to thaw the ribs, your patient will thank you.