We had the good fortune of connecting with Nyssa Kantorek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nyssa, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My balance is certainly something that still requires work (a lot of work), but I’ve learned some tricks over the years. I am a full-time student involved in quite a few extracurriculars while also working to have time for myself and for the people closest to me. Often it felt like I woke up early, and didn’t have time to rest until late at night. Eventually, I got used to it, but I figured that if I don’t find a way to balance my heavy workload with my lacking social life and self-care time, I’d eventually burn out and cease to feel fulfilled by my work. Now, I am very willing to say no to an opportunity to work or get something done early to enjoy my life a little bit more. I found that by allowing myself more space in my work, I actually still get things done on time while also enjoying the time I spend with my friends on campus, my partner, or my family. I realized one does not necessarily have to suffer for the other. Yes, we do have a limited amount of time in the day, but it is surprising what we can do with that time if we plan things correctly. By balancing your life outside of work and your work itself, you may actually find that you feel more motivated in your work, and you may end up doing better than you could imagine.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art or my creative outlet is my Instagram blog, @myadventuretomedicine. There, I am documenting my own journey to become a physician while also sharing what I’ve learned with my followers. As I started my premed journey years ago, I realized that there is this odd distance within the premed community. We’re competitive people and we have quite a lot expected of us academically, so that may contribute to us being less open about sharing our experiences with others. The medical school admissions process is also incredibly competitive, so many of us find ourselves mostly occupying our time with figuring out how to fulfill ourselves in the best years of our lives while also being competitive candidates for admission. As a freshman in college, this could be intimidating because it creates the impression that we all have to learn the ins and outs of the admissions process on our own without the help of peers. I decided to start this Instagram as a way to share the lessons I’ve learned over the years in academics, extracurriculars, social life, and more. This includes my successes, my mistakes, my tips, and my experience in general. The premed years can be spent doing anything as long as you fulfill the requirements for admission, so how people spend those years can vary widely. However, I believe by being collaborative and transparent with your experiences in and out of the classroom, you end up encouraging more people to follow a similar path. I did have to learn to present myself on Instagram in a way that would get my message across, and I’m still working on that, but overall, it’s an account that’s there for anyone who may need to hear this message. In a way, it also keeps me accountable to myself to take my own advice by getting enough sleep, setting aside time for myself, and managing my study time properly. I definitely plan on continuing with it as I enter medical school so that I can continue to be transparent with my experiences for those who are curious about the process and we will see where it goes from there!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I grew up in a suburb outside of Dallas, so often I find myself exploring along with the tourists! My family enjoys going ‘into town’ and having days out in Dallas proper where we can learn something new or find a spot we haven’t been yet. If I had a week to show my friend around Dallas, I’d absolutely start at the shopping spots. We have beautiful malls in Dallas – namely the Galleria and Northpark shopping center – and walking around those two and exploring the shops could be 1-2 full days honestly. There’s great food around that area, from places in the food court to the surrounding restaurants. I would then explore University Park to check out the SMU campus and the cute spots around there as well. I’ve enjoyed visiting the La Madeleines in that area. From there, I’d take them to the Bishops Arts district where you can have an excellent grilled cheese to delicious Thai food. As a medical nerd, I’d also show my friend the medical district near Love Field. Sometimes I forget how huge Dallas is until I drive by the massive Parkland Hospital or the UT Southwestern campus. There are incredible work and research going on at both of those institutions and it’s worth a drive by just to see the scale of these places. Dallas’s surroundings areas like Mesquite, Rockwall, Richardson, Addison, etc. are great places to visit some family-owned BBQ places or walk around the town square. They tend to have great events during major holidays like Christmas displays or summer firework shows. Lastly, there is of course Downtown. You could visit the Dallas Museum of Art and peruse their collections detailing eras in history or walk and eat at the food trucks always surrounding Klyde Warren Park. There’s so much to do in Dallas, and this is just a small snapshot of what one could occupy themselves with in the heart of Texas!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When you’re busy with work, school, or your creative outlets, it might be difficult to reflect on your happiness simultaneously. As a senior at Vanderbilt University, I wanted to take this year to reflect on my happiness and how I could grow as I transition into the next stage of my life: medical school. I decided to take a positive psychology class, which is a field in psychology dedicated to understanding our positive emotions and how people can increase their own happiness. We were assigned to read The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky. I had no idea how much this book would change my worldview. I’ve annotated it and stuck it with Sticky Notes, and I know I will be returning to this book consistently over the next few years. From practicing gratitude to fitness to savoring life’s joys, this book goes through twelve happiness activities one can engage in to increase the flow of positive emotions in their life. I’m not necessarily a self-help book kind of person, but this book is full of psychological empirical peer-reviewed evidence for how these activities actually work. I’ve been incorporating these activities into my own life to varying degrees and have deemed it successful in contributing to the best year of my time at Vanderbilt. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants to find more meaning in their own life, in their work, and for anyone who wants to figure out how to balance their work, their happiness, and their social life. Moving forward, this book will be a valuable tool for allowing me to balance my career as a future physician, as someone who enjoys being creative through my Etsy (Nyssa’s Crochet Corner) and my Instagram blog, and as someone who wants to find time to enjoy the people around her who have contributed greatly to her story.