Finding the Balance Between My Multiple Identities : Married In Medicine - By Asra Mazhar
I’m a brown, female, Muslim American physician but those are just some of my identities. I’m also a mother, wife, sister, daughter, among many other roles. Each of these roles define me as a person and they each uniquely contribute to my sense of self.
As we near the blessed month of Ramadan, I always find myself reflecting on ways to become my best self. Whether it’s in my responsibilities as a mother, wife, serving my patients or in my practice of Islam, there’s always room for growth. Being a mother and wife in medicine has always presented challenges, not only to myself but to many women in medicine before me. Adding a global pandemic on top of that and the day to day can get a bit overwhelming.
I was always in pursuit of that perfect balance between being a mom and a busy doctor. And prior to that being a good wife and medical student. Trying to make sure I was there for my husband and baby but also putting in the hours at work and making sure there was a warm plate of cooked food on the table. You know who didn’t have any of these thoughts? My husband. Not because he didn’t care but because he didn’t think he had to do it all. He understood that we would be just fine without needing to add the extra stress and anxiety about trying to be perfect. Why is it that we as women think we have to do everything?
I’m here to tell you, you don't have to do it all and achieving balance in your life is certainly an achievable goal.
In reality, there was no way I could give 100% at work and then try to give 100% at home ALL THE TIME. This will lead to burnout and feelings of resentment. I’m glad I realize this now because I was trying to live up to what society thought I should do, not what was practical for my family.
I’ve learned that it’s about prioritizing my time. Some days, that means a little longer day at work because my patients need me and other days it’s spending extra time cuddling in the morning with my loves. I’ve broken my fast while driving home in rush hour traffic. I’ve also prayed on the cold locker room floors of the hospital. It’s not perfect but it's important to realize that each little bit counts.
I remind myself that what I am doing is truly an act of worship itself. The honor to be able to take care of people, to educate and empower the community, to establish trust with my patients, to advocate for health and wellness. These are such blessings.
This year has been so incredibly challenging but it has also given us the opportunity to reflect on our many blessings- our health, our security, our happiness. What better time to reflect on our blessings than as we near the blessed month of Ramadan?
This month is about opening your heart and soul, filling it with devotion, gaining compassion for the needy and reestablishing our relationship with God. This month includes breaking bad habits, giving to charity and displaying kindness in our thoughts and actions.
The beauty of this month and our religion is that every little bit of effort and intention counts. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, if we set our intentions at the start of each day and treat every opportunity as a chance for worship, we can make the most of this blessed month InshaAllah.
There is no doubt that this month will be physically demanding and for those of us in medicine, it may present other challenges. 12+ hour shifts, 80 hour work weeks, all while giving 100% to our patients can be extremely exhausting. Remember, it’s okay to take a break. Pace yourself. Take care of yourself. Energize your body and soul and InshaAllah this month will bring you happiness.
Note About the Author: Asra Mazhar is a family medicine physician and is on to expecting her second child. Her goals and steadfast mindset have always kept her reevaluating how she can improve herself to be the best version of her. Follow her @married.in.medicine.