I do feel like that a little bit.
I mean—I’m 23 right now—I’ll turn 24 later this year. When I graduate with my degree I’ll be 25. By the time I finish residency I’ll be right around 30. So yes. There’s a whole decade of my life almost! (If not longer if I do a fellowship!).
You spend a lot of your 20s doing things that people aren’t doing in their 20s and because of that you don’t do the “normal stuff” some people do.
You study most nights instead of going out.
When you’re not studying your working at the hospital or sleeping (or taking brain vacations to occasionally see friends or family).
You’re elbow deep in your second year when you have friends finally considering what their careers should be or deciding to quit one job to just kind of wander around the country for a year.
You’ll probably never fit in a weekly girl’s night and your three spin classes and two date nights, and reading all 100 books on this year’s NYT best seller list.
You wait to get married because you’re not meeting people—you’re busy getting through third year.
You wait to have kids because you’re probably smack in the middle of residency (and maybe you haven’t even found a partner yet).
You’re waking up exhausted—not because you were at a party the night before until 4 am… but because you didn’t leave your shift at the hospital until 4 am.
Your wardrobe is full of scrubs instead of sundresses. You have piles of sensible hospital shoes and the last time you wore the pair of too small spike heels was… well you can’t even remember. You lose the capacity to talk about things that aren’t medicine. You try to go to a party and meet new people and you find yourself telling a story about the last time someone bled/vomited/pissed on you and those people are walking away….
Instead of PDA standing for public display of affection… it stands for posterior descending artery. NPH is not the initials of the best actor on How I Met Your Mother—it means normal pressure hydrocephalus.
You give up sleep, free time, catching up on the latest HBO show. Medicine will take time from your family, your friendships, your ability to date.
I wouldn’t do anything else.
I wouldn’t trade leaving the hospital at midnight after I stood and spoke Spanish with the parents of a child in respiratory distress until the translator came and told them it was going to be okay. I wouldn’t trade that for leaving a bar at midnight on that same night.
I wouldn’t trade my failed attempts at dating. I’m okay that all of those attempts have failed because the right person understands why I do what I do and will get why I can’t do a date night every night. Why I might not be able to stay at your house party or see you every night. The right person will love that I love what I do so much. I wouldn’t trade what I do for a more successful dating life.
I wouldn’t trade this life where I spent the last 8 weeks of my life studying for one test. Because come May I’m going to be in clinic.
People will yell at me—patients, doctors, nurses, family members. I will get yelled at, bled on, cussed at, cat called by drunks in the ER, or vomited on. That’s just my average day.
I’ll come home and instead of going to sleep stay up another couple hours to learn one more thing about a Whipple procedure or pulmonary hypertension. I’ll wake up early and stay late.
But I have amazing friends who are fighting right next to me in the trenches and sometimes we all laugh over a bottle of wine and our silly lives. I have amazing people who love me—who give me the slack when I need it—and don’t blame me when I show up late or leave early. I have an awesome family that helps me out when I need it.
And I still find the time to take care of me. I do the things i love—I read, I go for a run, I hit a yoga class, I cook (oh god do I cook!), I write, I write on this blog!!
I’m not worried about the other pieces falling into places. I know that I will get the other things I want in my life and I’m not afraid of medicine taking that away from me.
So sure… choosing medicine is a little like “giving up your twenties”… but for me… it’s giving up the parts I didn’t want anyway and is instead giving me one giant 10 year adventure.
And that adventure has a lot of hard days… maybe more hard days than easy ones. It has days you come home and cry. But is there any other job in the world where someone might hug you because you tell them their son is going to make it through the night? Any other job where you are the first pair of hands that touches a baby the second it hits the atmosphere? Any other place you might cry with someone, laugh with someone, change someone’s life, and place your hand inside someone’s chest cavity all on the same day?
So some people say that med school is like “giving up your twenties”… maybe it’s more of a trade though.
You give up the things “everyone else” seems to be doing…and in return you get (what is in my opinion) possibly the most amazing adventure ever.