Kate, Teri, and I were talking the other day about the fact that we are all hygienists in our 40s (or at least I was a hygienist and I used to be in my 40s!). We remember so vividly working in offices with other hygienists thinking they were SO old ... that we would never be working at that age ... we surely would move on to academia or something other than still insisting our patients floss, brush, and so on. And yet here we are, having discovered what the other women knew - that the business of hygiene is rewarding, stable, and very necessary to the overall practice of dentistry.
If anything, perhaps what we also discovered is that life’s balance is greatly improved if we are surrounded by like-minded people with similar goals. That is not to say we don’t benefit from the crazy girlfriend, the off-the-wall hobby, even the occasional tragedy. It’s just nice to know that when it all seems too much to handle, there are people in our lives on whom we can depend for the sameness of it all.
Martha Washington is quoted as saying, “I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” What our First Lady was really trying to say, of course, is that we have control over our circumstances if we listen to our dispositions. We will be happy or we will be miserable … or some variation of both ... but it is up to each of us to decide what our response will be. Obviously, we are all hard-wired a certain way. Some of us are mostly sunny, some of us are a bit cynical, some of us couldn’t see a glass half full if it was dumped on us! Therefore, our response to stressful circumstances is greatly improved if we are already biologically equipped to anticipate a positive outcome.
So, how can we up the biological odds? One can’t discount education’s influence on our dispositions. Education of the academic variety coupled with life lessons learned at a parent’s knee (or over a parent’s knee as the case may be!) all combine to provide us with the framework necessary to make informed decisions at each step in life. Just as a parent’s influence doesn’t end when a child leaves home, education shouldn’t end when graduation arrives.
We all have a colleague or two who can organize relevant articles into beautifully arranged files .. who can quote well-known authors we only vaguely remember ... or what about the guy who always shows the perfect pictures of the perfect smiles (when we all know there have to be rejects somewhere)? These same colleagues always set aside time in their week for journal reading (how else can they construct those beautiful files?) and never have to wonder if they have fulfilled all the CE requirements because they are in triple digits for CE hours earned. OK, I hate them too (but secretly admire them), because they have managed to accomplish what I quietly dream about. They are organized, and they have found balance.
Well, maybe they haven’t, but at least they have tried. Shouldn’t we all strive for balance in 2006? Kate, Teri, and I need to “watch our backs.” There is someone out there looking at us, wondering why we are still doing what we are doing. It is my Idle Thought that someday someone will look at us and say, “Wow, look at her! She’s still doing it (whatever that is!) ... and loving it too.” Good luck in 2006. ■
Sharon Szeszycki, DDS
Dr. Szeszycki is a graduate of the dental hygiene program at Southern Illinois University, a BS graduate of the dental hygiene program at Loyola University, and a graduate of the Loyola University School of Dentistry. She has been actively involved for more than 10 years with the Mediation and Peer Review Committees of the Chicago Dental Society. A full-time co-partner in a general dentistry practice in Lombard, Ill., she may be contacted at [email protected].