One of the questions I am constantly being asked by anyone is “how do you get to travel so much?” Being a doctor who goes on hospital duty while juggling real-life responsibilities and relationships, I can surely understand why people are curious on how I handle them and how I still have the time to travel. You see, once the travel bug bites, your feet never stops being restless. And the only way to cure it is to pack your knapsack, take off from work and go. It gives me pride when I successfully get through the mountains of Himalayas with a bunch of weight on a single backpack or navigate the maze-like alleys of Kathmandu. It excites me every moment my plane lands on a runway or when I hear the bullet train I’m riding in swooshes out of the station. I get chills jumping upside down looking out towards a rapid river gorge on a bungee jump in Nepal or trying insect delicacies in the streets of Cambodia. This is what travel does to me - it excites me, it makes me feel alive, and it brings out the best in me. This is why I can’t really blame people who have this constant itch to go, because a life of travel is always a good thing to have.
In spite of how much we want it for ourselves, we only have limited time and resources on our hands to travel for the rest of our lives. Just like most of us, I also need to find a balance between making a living and seeing the world. On the one hand, I am passionate about traveling because it feeds my mind and fuels the amazing connection I have with the world. On the other hand, I need to practice my profession for which I toiled so hard for years in medical school because it is what pays the bills. But on a more personal level, I love practicing my profession because it allows me to help people and save lives. It feels very rewarding knowing that my work matters and that I do something important for others. These are totally two different lives with different rewards. And in my pursuit to harmoniously coexist with these two very different lives I’ve created, I have found a delicate balance by setting my priorities straight. I chose entering the hospital workforce instead of going into private practice, which allowed me to have a more flexible work schedule. By removing the administrative hassles and pressures of a private practice, I am able to solely focus on practicing medicine and still have plenty of time doing the things that are meaningful to me. There is a downside, however. By being hospital-employed, I am under an organization where I have less power over policies, and over decision-making, both which may greatly impact my professional future. But that is a trade-off decision I’ve made in order to have a more balanced lifestyle. Knowing what my priorities are, I can manage to work long hours and still show up as my best self in my relationships and responsibilities. For me, it is the key in finding the balance between travel and work.
At the end of the day, it is our lifestyle that matters. It’s all about asking yourself what you want in life and how do you want to live it. Balance is not something you achieve or a destination you arrive to - it is the feeling of stability you feel inside. And the most effective way to achieve that is to stay connected with your true self and not to feel guilty for prioritizing your happiness.