It's All Fun and Games Until It's Not
A few years ago two of my friends changed my life. For real. These two fellow doctors changed not only the speed but the direction I was going, so much so that I feel obligated to share it with you, even though I am sure many of you that know me will say, well duh Sash, what took you so long?
These two girlfriends have known me for close to 15 years. They have seen me through my residency training, motherhood, studying for boards, and my early career. For about 3-4 years these two brilliant, hard-working, educated doctors would call me and say “Hey Sash, guess what? GIRLS TRIP!!!!!!” on decimal 10. They would send me hilarious memes and crazy emoticons and beg me to come on their annual girls trip where they hike and spa and laugh and act silly. And each year my response was the same: No.
I didn’t have time.
I couldn’t leave the kids.
I couldn’t use my precious vacation time.
I had too much call to take, too little time with my family, not enough time for such crazy antics.
You know what they did? They. Kept. Asking. Those are true friends! Friends that love you even when you turn them down, friends that just keep on trying to change you for the better because they know you are worth it.
So two years ago, I finally said yes. They told me they were waiting until I picked the dates and refused to take no for an answer. So I begrudging found 4 days, and I although part of me was excited, part of me was still thinking, why am I doing this?
I am very Type A. I am organized, focused, and can multi-task like no other. Years of taking care of patients and taking care of kids and left me serious and well, tired. Too tired to trek across the country to hike some trail with my friends for 15 hours. I mean, are there 800-count Egyptian cotton sheets involved? (Turns out, there was. We know our limits.)
Let me tell you what happened. I did something, for four days, I had forgotten to do for a looooonnnnggg time. I went on a trip, not paired with any work events, not for any kids sporting activities, but just. To. Have. Fun.
And boy did we. I cannot even begin to describe to you what this trip did for me. Being with my dear friends, who know me so well, laughing until 3 am like we were in junior high, talking about real issues, I remembered how much FUN I was! I remembered that guess what? Adulting doesn’t mean being serious 24/7. It’s ok to have fun! Laughter is healing. I can be a doctor and still laugh hysterically with my girlfriends out to dinner. I can be a mom and still dance and have fun and drive singing with my windows down.
One of the longest clinical studies ever conducted is the Grant Study, by Harvard. This study, conducted over 80 years, shows that the single most important factor tied to physical and mental health is happiness, or joy, that comes from having positive relationships with others. Friends and family, and laughing, pure joy, brings both physical and mental stability! It is good to have FUN! I know in my line of work, medicine is waaaayyy too serious. And sadly that translates into serious physicians, serious nurses, and staff. We have lost our “permission” to have fun.
That trip with my two girlfriends changed me. On the way to the airport, as our trip was ending, I shared with them how my eyes had been opened. I literally cried when I told them how much I appreciated them not giving up on me, and making me have fun again. Since that time, I have taken several trips for fun, and make every effort to have some fun on work trips or sporting trips I go to with my family. Joy is healthy. Being serious all the time is not.
When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you stayed up laughing with your family or friends until 3 am? When was the last time you did something just for the pure joy of it?
If you need permission to have fun, here it is. Just what the doctor ordered.