I look back on the decade that is just about to pass and have found that my life these past ten years has been defined by one major thing: Medicine.
Considering that 10 years is roughly one third of my current lifetime, that's a heck of a long time.
Unlike other med people - probably more well adjusted than I was - entering medicine was like going into a state of suspended animation, a kind of extended adolescence. Life and the world marched inexorably on as I was immersed in an educational system that looked more like high school than it did university - same classmates in one huge lecture hall within a small campus, volumes of books to read, endless exams, day in and day out.
My world, not already incredibly big to begin with, grew ever smaller - maybe partly by necessity, but defintely because of circumstance.
It didn't change much with the transition to hospital life. 24 hour duties, 36 hour days being flat out with patient care on top of the academic load didn't really leave me much time or energy to spare. Add to that the fact that most of my friends were from this little world as well, and there really wasn't much impetus to see what else was beyond it.
For me, staying focused on the end-goal was also defending my sanity - something that kept me from questioning why the hell I was doing what I was doing. Which is probably why I railroaded myself straight into residency, 3 more years of same as the above.
It's no wonder that I was a certified basket case at the end of it. MD and Diplomate cerificates in hand, to be sure, but a basket case nonetheless, scratching her head in bewilderment at where all the years had gone and wondering if she even ever wanted what she got.
I decided two years ago to break the pattern, do the unexpected, and get the hell out. In a manner of speaking. Which has brought me here.
I've spent the last two years of the decade out in the real world, but with one foot still inside the door of medical life. Oddly enough, I must admit to feeling a little lost now that my work has stopped being the defining force in my life, but it has been a good time. I still haven't quite figured out if I want what I've gotten or if I really want to go where I'm going but I've found that I can ease up on the quest a little, enjoy the slower and meandering pace, and still keep my sanity.
All that being said, guess what? I'm going back to training next year. It will be, basically, starting from scratch. As if ten years weren't enough.
Crazy, I know. I guess there's a very real, very influential masochist living inside my head. I'm doing it partly because I don't see any real reason not to and partly because it's the only logical way I can actually stay here for the meantime. I'm still not sure what I real end goal is... but hopefully, it won't take me another ten years to figure things out.