This feels like an important week to make a statement in Baltimore. We, November Project Baltimore, are a group of individuals who mostly live and work in Baltimore City. NP would not be what it is without ALL of the people who show up to our workouts and encourage others to do the same. We “make the city our playground” and workout in parks and on streets within city limits. We love telling other people what fun it is to meet up with this group before the sunrises and who joyously celebrate the ability to connect with others and form relationships at these workouts. November Project is also a different experience for every body that chooses and has the ability to come. We hope we are a welcoming and inclusive group where people trust one another and feel supported but also challenged. Until the dawn of time November Project will be in cities doing exactly this because it can (and does) make a positive difference in peoples lives. To have people to show up to meet that look you in the eye and tell you “I’m happy you’re here” can turn a rough day or week into a slightly better one and give a sense of belonging where it might be missing.
This morning we had the absolute PLEASURE to give the positivity award to someone who has been a consistent smiling and ever-encouraging presence at our Wednesday workouts for many moons and who delved into Fridays last summer. She has the ability to brighten your day with one smile and giggling “Hi!” November Project is better because Molly just shows up and shares herself with us. This past week she wrote us a note that so encapsulates this movement and why so many of us continue to show up despite the challenges we face in our lives. Molly writes about how November Project impacted her ability face one of her personal challenges. Thank you, Molly, for showing up and making this community brighter. May all future (& present!) physicians be as empathetic, committed and vulnerable as you!!! Take it away…
Hi friends! THANK YOU SO MUCH for making today’s Sunrise 6K so much fun!! It was a truly lovely morning and I appreciate all of you for dedicating so much time to make NP a blast every week. After reflecting on the last year, I wanted to send an NP Baltimore-wide thank you to everyone who has ever been to a work out and made me feel like I belong – especially the 5:30 Wednesday gang who has become like family to me. Here is my reflection on the past year:
The thing about rock bottom is that just when you think you’re there, the universe laughs and says, “Watch this, motherfucker”. I’m lying on the dirty carpeted floor of the Medicine team room staring up at the concerned faces of my senior resident, interns, and attending physician. I’m dizzy and I can’t tell if I am going to vomit or lose consciousness or both. I wish that I would lose consciousness and wake up somewhere else – anywhere else. I’m having a panic attack in front of my entire team, and now I am uncontrollably crying. Perfect.
They are all very understanding about this “episode”. They say encouraging things and walk me to the Office of Student Affairs, where I learn what happens after you fail the most important standardized exam of medical school. They have been telling us for two years that this exam determines the medical specialty that a student can pursue. This, I thought to myself, must be rock bottom. Then they told me that I would be going to Champaign, Illinois for a study boot camp course. “Watch this, motherfucker” indeed.
Now I can look back on the last year and recognize that it was crucial for me to go to Illinois, but at the time I was in a dark place. I was far from home surrounded by a lot of strangers, and I was feeling the weight of my failure as my classmates moved on to the clinical portion of medical school. I was depressed. Many mornings I woke up wishing that I wasn’t alive. Many mornings I couldn’t get out of bed for hours – the longer I slept the less I would feel.
When I first got to Illinois, I wrote the words “Just Show Up” on a Post- It note and stuck it on my bedroom door. Every morning when I woke up I looked at the Post-It and remembered all of my pals from November Project who were rooting for me.
November Project taught me what it means to “Just Show Up” – just show up to get your exercise in before the sun rises, just show up for your friends who need some extra support this week, just show up and see what happens even if you’re intimidated by these super athletic, borderline insane people (hint: what happens is that you have a blast with some of the greatest people you will ever meet). But one new application I discovered in Illinois was to just show up for myself. Wake up, get out of bed, and show up for another day of studying. Every time I looked at the Post-It, I was reminded that all I needed to do every day was show up and put forth my best effort. The rest was out of my hands.
And so I want to thank you all, for showing up to November Project, for helping to form this kick ass community, for cheering me on when I wanted to give up. You might not always be aware of the impact you have on your fellow early morning hand-hugging bounce-mates, but I want you all to know that because you show up each week, you gave me the courage to show up when I didn’t think I could.
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Thank you especially to Kaye, who checked in on me like clockwork every week to see how I was doing. Thank you to Nick, who started this fantastically crazy Baltimore crew and who refused to let me give up on myself. Thank you to Bryson and Harkins for being badass ladies with contagious energy. Thank you to Lainey, Gail, Corinne, Casey, Colleen, Aliya, Amanda, Jana, et al for letting me vent countless times and for still being my friends despite this. Thank you Liz, who gave me the final pep talk I needed to take the test again… AND PASS IT MOTHERFUCKERS!!! And finally, thank you to anyone who is still reading this. I love you and I mean it.
* Disclaimer: Everyone has their own struggles and I am not at all implying that failing a test comes close to being considered a tragedy, but this is a reflection of my experience with failure and I am thankful for the people who got me through it and reminded me that there is a lot more to life (and to me as a person) than a score on a multiple choice test. LYLAS. YOU ROCK NEVER CHANGE HAGS.*