February 28, 2017

Liberation vs. limitation

I was recently challenged with the following question: Which do you ask yourself more often – “Why?” or “Why not?”

For the first time, I considered what it means to be driven by one over the other. I imagined that searching for a reason why to do something implies that the default choice would be to not perform that action. On the other hand, asking why not suggests that I would preferably move forward in the absence of any compelling reason to hit the brakes. On initial analysis, asking why reflected a degree of limitation, whereas asking why not represented liberation.

However, in reflecting upon some of the major decisions I’ve made, I began to understand that this was not a generalizable concept. I recalled how I supported my desire to pursue an OB/GYN residency by asking myself why I wanted to after listening to attending physician after attending physician provide their multitude of reasons why not to – a liberating realization amid pressures attempting to limit me. It was then that I deleted half of this post, reflected some more, talked it out over Guinness with Juan, and here we are.

I came to an important realization during this time: The question we ask ourselves is not as important as why we are asking it. Is our why or why not driven by fear—of change, failure, or sacrifice—or are our decisions rooted in courage? Are we searching to justify the “safe” choice, or the one that challenges us to better ourselves, our relationships, or our community?

Understanding these qualities won’t always make a difficult decision any easier, and a courageous choice can still tow along a considerable amount of fear. But appreciating what drives our decisions allows us to know ourselves that much better and provides a deeper level of informed decision-making. And that sounds pretty nice to me.

Read more about Angela here.

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