Maddy Mash, MD Class of 2025

Stress, anxiety, heavy feelings, whatever you want to call it, come with a potency that overwhelms our mind, influencing every decision and the way we perceive the world. 

I have noticed I tend to look back on challenging stretches of life and think, that wasn’t so bad. Time gives us a lens with the blurring stress filter removed, giving a romanticized picture of the seemingly lackluster moments you overlooked. When this appreciation comes, all those moments are far gone, wasted on a overextended and burnt out mind probably because something wasn’t working out exactly the way we wanted it to at the time. 

I think maybe this is because romanticizing life can be a double edged sword. If given the freedom, it can insataiably feed expectations. Expectations that the future should respectively mirror the dreamy vision in your head, becoming strung out on every detail, inevitably leading to disappointment when the real moments do happen. Expectations precipitate apprehension, impatience, and restlessness. When one thing doesn’t work out, we look for the next best thing, the next hit of dopamine, the next illustrious, dream-fufilling moment – what we think will fill that apprehensive void dug out by our expectations. 

We become bound to anticipating the next phase of life and blind to the intricacies of the current one. Waiting for time to provide us with rose colored glasses is effectively pressing fast forward through every phase; we don’t get a rewind button and surprise, surprise, the next phase brings headaches you never saw coming. When the unexpected makes its due entrance, the sparkly, perfect, but entirely unrealistic expectation has to be released. 

Resist the urge to fast forward, rather zoom out and reframe. Slowing down, being present, watching the sunrise and sunset, noticing the moon, reminding yourself you are grounded on this earth and enjoying existence as it comes. Letting each laugh, smile, conversation carry the weight it deserves, allowing yourself to romanticize the here and now but not letting it run rampant into what tomorrow will bring. 

The luster that catches our eye on something shiny and new is superficial – it always fades. Life happens in any way it wants to, regardless of your expectation of it, it is here where those seemingly lackluster, routine, ordinary moments become the brightest radiations in our memory.

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