In Which I Talk About My Brain

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I swear, the minute my head hits the pillow and I turn out the lights to go to bed, my brain decides to go into overdrive about all of the things that could possibly affect my life. It especially likes to bring up all of the doubts, fears, worries, and concerns I have about possibly screwing up my life (and, subsequently, the lives of others). I guess all day, my brain is busy doing other things, so it can't be bothered to ponder the ultimate demise of all of my hopes and dreams.

Things had been going pretty well in my brain, recently.  I made the decision to apply to post-bac programs and to retake my GRE (okay, that decision was kind of made for me), and to eventually retake my MCAT this summer (?) and go to med school (???). I was actually feeling kind of empowered, like I could totally do this thing that I had decided to do, as crazy as it sounded. And then, stupid things creep into my head. It will be something innocuous and small, like a friend posting that she felt like crap but had to go to rounds, and then I'll start to think, "I'm sick all the time, what if I can't finish med school, let alone be an actual physician?" Or someone I know just had a baby, and I start to wonder if I'm ruining my chances for having a family because now I'm going to be in school for the next 5+ years.  A bunch of my friends are house hunting, and I wonder if I'm financially screwing us forever by going back to school.

And then I start to think, "Maybe I can just make myself be happy doing what I'm doing," and I ponder that.  My job here is pretty easy, and the people are nice. It doesn't mentally thrill me, or make me particularly happy, but... maybe that's okay? If I stay here, will I spend the rest of my life wishing I had taken this opportunity to go back to school when it "made sense" (even though it doesn't really "make sense" now either). Life is constantly pushing us forward, onward, ahead. The time for me to have gone to college and med school seems to have come and gone, at least practically, and while yeah, you can go back whenever you want, at what point does it become stupid? I feel like I'm on an express train and I just realized that my destination was three stops ago and now I can't go back. I feel like I have to give up one dream for another. I feel like my dream of being a physician is completely and totally antagonistic to my dreams of having children and buying a house. Obviously, lots of other people, many of them my friends, have done this or are actively doing these things all at the same time... but they started when they should have, not when the world stopped spinning long enough for them to get their feet under themselves and say, "What do I want out of life?"

I never stopped wanting to be a physician. Even when I lied to myself every day and said, "I never want to go back to med school, I never want to be a doctor," somewhere inside of me, a seed of truth was germinating and refusing to be stamped out. And now I don't know what to do with it. My list of "things I want out of life" is constantly shuffling in priority, and what I think is a priority isn't what society thinks my priorities should be, and for once, society isn't completely out of line. I'm 27, which yes, is young.  But if I go to med school, I'll be starting at the VERY earliest when I am 28, in 2014.  I'll graduate in 2018, making me 32. That is ALSO not old, but then I have to start a residency, which takes me at least to 35. One can totally have kids in residency, which at that point, would basically be my only option, because while lots of people have kids in their late 30's and into their 40's, I would rather not do that to myself and also because who knows if I can even have children (thanks endometriosis/likely PCOS) so that's fun.

And that's just part of it. There's also the (far more important?) financial aspect of this entire endeavor. I already have a significant amount of educational debt (like, $200K, ugh) and this would certainly cost me another $200K at least, not to mention that we'll go from being a 2-income household (with a decent amount of savings) to a 1-income household with little to no ability to save. Ken makes a decent salary, but he is a public school teacher, so his salary only grow so much at a time, and that's debatable in this economy. We clearly wouldn't be able to buy a house, or take vacations, or do anything that anyone else in our age bracket is getting to do, all because I chased some dream about being a doctor when I had a perfectly good job.

So now I don't know what to do. I'm sure I'll talk to Danna about it next Wednesday, and I'll definitely talk to Ken about it, since it affects him the most out of anyone (besides me, I guess). I wish that I could cut out the part of my brain that wasn't happy doing what I am doing, the part that wants to be a doctor. I wish that I hadn't wasted my time getting my MPH. I wish that I could just be content to continue the way we are, heading towards stability and normalcy. I wish there was a way to know that if I decide to give it up, that 5, 10, 25 years down the line, I won't look back and say, "Damn, I should have done it."

But there isn't.  There isn't a way to do any of those things. I guess at some point, I have to stop thinking and just DO something, but until I get to that edge, I'm probably going to just keep vacillating between the two options. Until someone or something makes me jump, I'm stuck staring into this crevasse, wondering how far down it goes.

At the very least, I'd like to figure out a way to get my brain to shut up, so I could get some decent sleep. Since a frontal lobotomy is frowned upon, I guess I'll have to go the route of deep breathing and Benadryl.

And then life hands you random things, like my friend Rachelle (check her out at Well & Lighthouse or By the List) IM'ing me to tell me about a new artist she thought I would like, Amy Wood. Large and proudly displayed in the middle of her home page?


Well okay, universe.  I guess it's my move now, huh?

- A


  1. Sounds like you have a heavy appointment on your hands with Danna next week!

    btw your MPH isn't a waste -- it helped you get your current job, and it can help with med school too. It would certainly make you a more well-rounded doctor!

    although i am obviously not contemplating med school, a lot of this sounds pulled straight from my own head haha


  2. You can go back to med school at any age you want. Don't let what society deems a "normal" age hold you back. The people in my class ranged from the ages of 22-62 (not even joking). There were people that had left their spouse and children to attend med school abroad. Some of them even brought them with them. Most of the people had in fact pursued some kind of graduate schooling or worked or done both before deciding on med school. This year I know at least five different ladies graduating who are well into their mid 30s and ready to start a family while in residency. So to be honest, you, as an applicant, completely fit the norm. It can be done, and I have faith that you and Ken will make it happen! And that MPH will be incredibly useful in the admissions game and when you're applying to residency, so don't count it out yet!


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