We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Saumya Dave and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Saumya, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
As a parent of a two year old son, the most important thing I’ve learned so far is how to consistently encourage self-compassion and acceptance. Whether my son is tired, hungry, restless, etc. I want him to know it’s okay for him to feel the way he does and that we will be here for him through that. In addition, I used to think motherhood meant constant self-sacrifice and pushing myself to the brink of burnout. But what I’ve learned is that when I’m well-rested and have taken care of myself, I’m able to be more present and engaged with my family. I used to ask myself how much I could accomplish in one day. Now I ask myself how I’d like to show up for the people I love and what things will help me do that. I hope to do that for my son and husband as well. The way each of us feels directly impacts the others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I grew up always wanting to be a physician and writer but was told, again and again, I had to choose. For years, this confused me because I saw so many of my peers being encouraged to cultivate multiple interests as kids but then being told to pick one track as adults. I began writing my debut novel, Well-Behaved Indian Women, right before medical school. It took me ten years and over two hundred rejections to get a book deal with Penguin Random House.
I realized that for so long, I had counted on external metrics of success (grades, approval from others, etc.) to indicate to myself that I was on the right path. But writing taught me to work on something just for myself, just for the purpose of the work. I continued to write throughout medical school and residency and continued to collect rejections. Over time, something shifted: the rejections gave me the space to reshape my relationship with failure. Since each rejection taught me what I needed to improve about my story and writing, I was able to start viewing them with curiosity instead of fear. Every time I received a detailed rejections, I returned to the manuscript, and rewrote it. I started looking forward to the rejections and saw them as opportunities to make my work even stronger. After doing this for a decade, I signed a two book deal with Penguin Random House.
Two years after that, I started my own psychiatry private practice. I was always drawn to writing and psychiatry for the same reason: a fascination with human nature. I always wanted to know what motivated, dejected, and defined people. Now, both of my careers inform each other. Psychiatry gives me the opportunity to understand someone’s story and see where I can play a role. Writing allows me to reflect and elaborate on different characters’ stories.
I never thought both of my passions would make each other stronger. But I’m grateful I trusted the vision I had for myself when I was younger. We are all multi-faceted and deserve to nourish all of the parts of ourselves that make us feel whole.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would first go to the Ace Hotel in downtown Brooklyn for brunch, which would include cocktails and brownie cookies. Next, we would take a long walk through Fort Greene park. I have to then take my best friend to the fantastic independent bookstores in the neighborhood—Books Are Magic, McNally Jackson, and Greenlight—where I’d buy her and her sons books recommended by the incredible booksellers at each store. For dinner, we’d go to Tacombi for sweet potato and black bean tacos. The next day, I’d arrange for an afternoon by the Brooklyn Bridge, which would include pizza at Fornino and soft serve ice cream on the pier. Knowing us, we’d then want to stay in for the rest of the day to just chat and have reruns of our favorite television series playing in the background. Other places I’d love to visit include the Mandarin Oriental Spa, since she’s a busy mom of two and always deserves pampering, Levain Bakery for the best chocolate chip cookies, Whitney Museum, The Edge for beautiful views of New York City, and a comedy show featuring the talented Zarna Garg,
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband provides support in so many ways. He’s able to see when I’m reaching a point where I’ll need to take a step back, pause, and be kinder to myself.
Pregnancy photo: Glow Portraits