Honesty is fundamental to this blog. So here’s the truth:

I messed up.

This week is the final crunch time before our big clinical exam and our major anatomy, radiology, neurology, and full term final exams. It’s also the time when our summer projects need to be sorted out. Essentially, things are nuts right now.

It’s also the time of year when I begin to realize that I’m completely in over my head, I’ve stretched myself too thin, and now I’m letting people down.

Letting people down is the single worst feeling for me.

As a kid, my parents were the kind of people who would never, ever let me quit anything after I had already committed to it. I had to see everything through to completion, even if I wasn’t interested anymore, or didn’t want to be doing it, or if I felt like I didn’t have the time. Because of this, I learned really early on that being dependable, and upholding commitments is a mark of strong character. It’s also biblical:

“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”

James 5:12

The thing is, I somehow managed to get to medical school without once over-commiting myself to the point of not being able to manage it. Sure, there were times where I took on more than I should have, but I somehow always made it work in the end. Partly, that’s because before medical school, it was a lot easier for me to say no to things I wasn’t interested in – and because I just downright had more time and fewer commitments! Now…well, everything is interesting and valuable and exciting, and there just is not enough time to do it all.

To make a long story short, I’ve found myself completely in over my head for the first time in my life. There’s been instances before where I’ve had to back out of things for family emergencies or health reasons. Now, I’m having to back out things because I bit off more than I could chew. I’m having to back out because I messed up and should never have committed in the first place.

Having to tell somebody that I can’t be a part of their project anymore makes me feel like I have a dozen rocks in my stomach. It is brutal. Perhaps part of it is an ego thing. I do take a lot of pride in being an always-reliable student, friend, and colleague. It also just sucks having to admit that you aren’t a superstar, and it sucks to think that a person might change their perception of you for the worse.

But more than that, there is something about disappointing others and renouncing on commitments that just kills me. I can’t put a finger on why. It’s just awful. But, with all these commitments piling up, I feel like I’m drowning. That’s an awful feeling too, but not quite as awful as breaking a commitment.

Problem is, if you’re drowning for too long, eventually you won’t be able to breathe.

So that’s where I’m at right now: overwhelmed and stuck.

What about you – do you ever feel like you’re drowning in commitments you can’t fulfill? Have you ever had to back out of a project? Let me know in the comments!