Caped crusaders. Champions of good. Protectors of the universe. Dominators of snaggle.
Whatever you wanna call it. Superheroes. We are all superheroes. We all have a special superpower that is unique to us. In every situation. These superpowers can change depending on where we are in life and who we are with, but we all have them. Do not forget this. Learn what it is, channel it at the right time, and use it wisely.
I thrive on being positive and uplifting to everyone that I meet. Many have you have heard me say, “Life is the lens you see it through”. I will almost always view life through the eyes of a child. It is way more fun that way! I hope to never grow up. And that is one of the biggest reasons why I love being an orthodontist. What is my superpower? Most of the time, it’s to Live Life Smiling™. It’s just what I do. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t take practice or effort. It just…is.
This past month, however, has been one of the toughest that I can remember. The practice is up. My friends are the dopest squad around. My family is all alive and full of love. But some kryptonite appeared out of nowhere and caught me by surprise. I am not used kryptonite…either because it doesn’t appear that often, or I don’t let it affect me that much. These were huge pieces of kryptonite, though. I was catching myself staying isolated and not reaching out to anyone…not even my closest friends and family out of embarrassment or fear of looking mortal. When you are a beacon of positivity, it is tough to have a bad day publicly. I literally became communicatively paralyzed. I went into what I call “turtle mode”, where I crawled into my shell and stayed there, trying to process what was going on and how to “fix” it all.
Well, now I am here to show you my vulnerability and the lessons that I have learned through this. I am not through the storm yet, but I know that I will.
- Family and friends are everything.
At the end of the day, they are all that I have. During the week of Thanksgiving, we asked a bunch of our patients on video what they were most thankful for. Almost every single kiddo mentioned a person, ~not~ a material thing. Life is the lens you see it through, right? People and experiences are more important than stuff. Always. Reach out to your loved ones today and tell them how much you love them and why you love them. You never know how long you have with them. There is no promise of tomorrow.
- Online study clubs are not just about practice building.
I reached out to my fellow members in ProOrtho FE when I was down. I didn’t give out any details of what was going on…just that I was in a rough spot. The amount of responses, texts, phone calls, and prayer was unheard of. I know that I am not alone and that I have so much support from all across the country.
- Ask THE question when a friend is in a dark place.
I was driving in my car early one Saturday morning to gain clarity. I love waking up early because my head is clear, the city is quiet, and I get to work out and listen to my favorite music and reflect on life in pure solitude. This day, however, one of my buddies that knew I was struggling through our text exchanges called me. I never spoke to him on the phone about it because I was in full turtle mode. I hesitated to interrupt my favorite time of the day, but I answered the call. Within 3 seconds of the phone call, I started sobbing. Ugly cry. Like can’t catch your breath cry. My friend knew that this was pretty serious and unlike me. I couldn’t even speak and I did not want to speak about it. I was not supposed to break down and show weakness. And then he asked me the question. The question that I will never forget. My friend asked me, “Anil, are you in a safe place and have you thought about hurting yourself?” WTF? Me? Hurt myself? And then it hit me. This question was one that I remembered was the number one take-home message from a TEDx talk I attended in Denver. This question is the number one question to ask ~anyone~ in order to prevent something terrible, aka suicide, from happening. I lost my number one mentor in orthodontics to suicide. He was the happiest, kindest, and most inspiring man that I have met to this day in our entire profession. He lit a fire in my heart to truly be me and live an authentic life. When my friend asked me this, I was definitely in a safe place and I was in no way thinking of hurting myself. BUT I knew from this question alone, that my friend cared for me so deeply that he had to get “uncomfortable” and ask me this. I instantly stopped crying, and I thanked him for asking me this because I know why he did. I beg all of you to think about this and ask this question to anyone that you know that might be surprisingly quiet, that does not have friends, and/or that isolates themselves. You just might save their life.
- Therapy is amazing.
“Busy water has no reflection”. I am slowing down my life to look at myself more. I have now decided to start seeing a therapist to help me work on my weaknesses. WTF again? Anil? Seeing a therapist? Some people use the title “life coach”. Some people use the title “executive coach”. I don’t care what you call it, but I am seeing a therapist. Does this make me feel bad? Not one minute. I love it. I am learning so much about myself and how to become better as an orthodontist, as a friend, as a son, and as a future husband and father (God willing). I am working on getting rid of turtle mode. I am working on being okay with imperfections. I am working on letting others love and take care of me. I am working on a lot.
Doctors…this post comes from my vulnerability. This post is to let you know that you are not alone. This post just might save a life. This post is about letting someone out there know that it is okay to struggle because I am struggling. I hope and pray that this helps our profession out a little more. If any of you reading this is having a hard time dealing with some kryptonite, please know that you can call me right away on my cell phone which is (215) 908-0008. And remember…
It ain’t a motto, people. It’s a lifestyle.
Most of the time:)
Live Life Smiling™,
P.S. A special thanks to those of you that helped me battle my kryptonite. You know who you are. I will never forget what you have done for me.