The Likelihood Just Frightens Me

The likelihood just frightens me and it’s easier to hide.

Four Seasons, Rex Orange County

It’s funny how much possibility and mere ideas inhibit us. We are constantly weighing costs and benefits. People love buying lotto tickets because the worst that can happen is that they lost a couple bucks, and the best that can happen is they become an instant millionaire.

I think people like taking risks and doing new things, but only when the worst outcome is relatively harmless. Trying new foods/ restaurants, listening to new music, adopting a new hairstyle, etc. Yet even with stuff as innocuous as those, people can become uncomfortable deviating from the status quo.

But it’s not just the bad that often holds us back, the prospect of positive change can be scary too. What if I get this new job and I have to change my day-to-day routine? What if I actually like this girl? What if I decide I want to do this thing for the rest of my life? Walking out into the unknown is scary, but I think what might be scarier, or at least less exciting, is hiding right where you are.



Thoughts on “How are you?”

We use it everyday as a pretty standard greeting. If I ask, “How are you?” you say, “Good thanks. How are you?” then I say, “Doin’ well” then we continue a conversation or walk away from each other. Of course there are more and less awkward variations of this that we all have experienced, but the point is that “How are you” has become a transaction. I ask, you reciprocate, that’s the expectation, and if you don’t you’re rude. But if you respond with anything that deviates significantly from “I’m fine,” that’s too much information.

The things is “How are you?” can be a deeply personal question. Everyone has a mask they wear in public to hide whatever it is they are going through, or what they have been feeling, especially if things have not been going so well. By transactionizing “How are you?” we miss out on some really extraordinary opportunities to connect with people.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask “How are you?” anymore, I just think we should try to be a bit more intentional about it. It shouldn’t be thrown out there with the expectation of reciprocation. If you ask someone how they are doing, genuinely care about the answer and show them you care.

I think…

I’ve been conflicted about starting off sentences with “I think.”

“I think” is a shield, the vanguard to my ego, protecting it from deniability.

If it’s what I think, then it can’t be wrong…because what type of monster tells someone what they think is wrong.

Even if it is…but it’s my opinion, so its not.

“I think” is a disclaimer, there to let you know that I’m not the type of person who would dare have the audacity to have convictions.

“I think” means “I don’t feel strongly enough about this to say for sure.”

“I think” means “I’m scared.”

“I think” isn’t bad, but I use it more often than I should.

At least that’s what I think.

My fear

I’ve put off sharing this blog with…well anyone (except for a few and you know who you are), mostly because by sharing it, other people might know what/ how I think (gasp). And if they know how I think, they can and will judge me based on that. This fear has overridden any confidence I’ve had that there is any value in what I’ve written and any desire I’ve had to connect with people through sharing and discussing ideas.

I’m afraid people will think that some of what I written is pathetic, or cringey, or stupid. I’m afraid that nobody will read it or nobody will be interested. I’m afraid that everyone will read it, putting me at the mercy of their judgement. I’m afraid that people will mistake my sharing of opinions with arrogance. I’m afraid not just of failure (whatever that means in this case), but of acknowledging that both failure and success come from trying and from pressing send. And I’m afraid of how much more common failure is than success.

When Han Solo said “Never tell me the odds,” that wasn’t arrogance, but rather a suppression of the fear (C-3PO) that was telling him not to do it (ok, maybe it wasn’t meant to be an eccentric commentary on fear, but just go along with it). While I am not facing a violent demise at the hands of flying space rocks, I consider living in this fear an equally tragic fate…and so here we are.

So with all that said, feel free to browse old posts and stay up-to-date on the new ones. If you do read any of this, or even got this far on this post, I hope you get something out of it and, please, if you have any thoughts at all on anything I write I would love to hear them, ideally through writing them directly on the post, so others can enjoy them, or by contacting me some other way if that makes you more comfortable. And if you do think any/ all of it is stupid or arrogant, or you disagree, or if you simply have nothing to say, that is just as valid, and I encourage you to express that or call me out (or not, it’s up to you).

I’m not gonna lie, I really hope you like what you find here, but if you don’t, I get the opportunity to get over it and to not take it personally.

Now what are you afraid of?

What is your art?

Seth Godin often writes and talks about art. His art seems broadly defined, and I agree that art goes far beyond what a person does with pen, paint, or clay.  However, it’s hard to imagine where art comes into play in the medical field. I’ve always considered myself pretty creative, so for a long time I struggled with how I can bring art and creativity to a medical career. When dealing with people’s health and their lives, it’s probably not a great idea to be taking risks and trying new things. That being said, viewing the practice of medicine simply as prescribing medications, treating symptoms, and giving diagnoses, is a pretty dismal and narrow perspective.

I realized that my answer was already part of why I wanted to be a doctor; the relationships and interactions. Art in medicine can be in my interactions with patients, in doing the emotional labor (á la Seth) that improves patient compliance and outcomes. Art could also be in new approaches to healthcare as a whole or in new interdisciplinary connections.

The issue isn’t doing something that allows you to do art, it’s finding the art in what you do.


I used to think pure logic was the best way to approach any problem. It frustrated me when people didn’t think or act logically (or at least what I considered logically). As I became more acquainted with ideas about acceptance and understanding through my educational and personal studies, I became more comfortable with irrationality. Individuals do not all think the same and are not always going to behave logically, that is the reality we live in. I now acknowledge that holding pure logic as an ideal is itself illogical and irrational. In order to make progress on any issue that involves other humans, appealing to their humanity first is essential, and in some cases that comes at the expense of logic.

Being Indispensable

Started a new book this week. Seth Godin’s Linchpin. It’s all about what it means to be indispensable; what do I contribute that know one else does. While I am still just breaking the surface of the book, it has got me thinking, especially as I am working on my applications for medical school.

One idea that Seth talks about a lot is how the old economy was all about making everything replaceable, from replaceable parts to replaceable humans. Now, in an age where nearly everything is easily replaceable, there is more value than ever on the things that can’t be replaced (cheaper costs which drove the movement towards replaceable parts can go to zero, whereas fresh ideas and innovation has no limit as far as we know).

Ok so what do I have to offer to the world of medicine. On one hand I am concerned because in the world of medicine, that’s one place where you don’t want a lot experimenting going on, at least with patients. On the other hand I see it as challenge. In a career where one distinguishes themselves simply by maintaining the status quo and “following the rules”, how can I be different, where can I add myself into the mix. It’s easy* to be a good doctor, but what separates a good doctor from an indispensible one. From a medical standpoint there shouldn’t be much variation between then. I think what differentiates the two is the “emotional labor” which Seth also talks about. The work of showing patients that you care. I also think the medical geniuses are the ones who rethink the way we do medicine entirely (and who knows maybe there’s a revolution out there waiting for someone to strike the match).

Seth says we all have the capacity to be geniuses (some of us very stable ones), and that even those that we regard as some of the most the revolutionary minds of our time only spend about 5 minutes of their day as a genius, the rest is just work that anyone could do. Genius doesn’t mean everyone will like it, it means only you can do it (or at least you are one of the few can).


*Of course it’s not easy, but it is something that you can develop with practice.

Here’s another article that I think is worth checking out:

Being my own biggest advocate

“Hell is Other People”

This is a quote from French philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte that I came across while reading Algorithms to Live By (Yes I am still reading that, just about to finish get off my back).

What Sarte means by this is not that people are evil, but that the influence of other people’s perceived perceptions on our own perception can be exhausting and frustrating. In other words, we base our ideas of ourselves in part on how we think others perceive us.

The authors of Algorithms to Live By offer a solution that I thought was encouraging. In the chapter on game theory they bring up the idea of dominant strategies (that which makes the most sense individually) vs optimal strategies (that which leads to the best outcome overall). They talk about changing the “game” to restrict the players to choose optimal strategies. They talk about the Vickrey auction in which the optimal strategy is to be honest about what you believe that value of a particular item is.

The chapter ends on this: “Seek out games where honesty is the dominant strategy. Then just be yourself.”

We are often in control of the games we play, I want choose the ones that allow me to live authentically.