23 weeks pregnant? Starting a stressful job in a foreign country? What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking about laying a foundation for my future, continuing along the road I’ve taken towards a career in medicine.
That’s the sensible, expected thing to do. It’s the modern, feminist thing to do. Work-life balance. Career woman slash supermom.
It was not the thing for me.
After one week, I offered my resignation to the McGill residency program.
Yes, I quit.
Luckily, I realized that I was going to be unhappy before throwing even more years working towards a career that ultimately leaves me dissatisfied.
Everyone was very, very nice about my withdrawal. My attending Dr. S wrote me an e-mail that I’ll save in my inbox for awhile:
I wanted to tell you that the whole rheumatology team really enjoyed your presence. You were only with us for 1 week but you made an impact on everyone (doctors, nurses, secretaries and patients). I truly enjoyed working with you.
Part of me is definitely sad. I’m good at being a doctor. I like talking to patients, figuring out diagnoses. And I genuinely feel fulfilled helping people. When I’m at the hospital, I give 100% of my energy and effort. That takes a lot of stamina, especially for a pregnant mama.
Over the weekend, I realized that I wasn’t physically or psychologically prepared to handle this. My body gave me subtle clues that it’s unhealthy for me to continue, even with the humane Canadian working conditions.
I noticed feeling exhausted at the end of the day, not looking forward to getting up in the morning. I started to dread the binder of research articles I had to read. I noticed myself starting to complain. I didn’t have the energy to deal with Sonya’s tiredness at the end of the day. Playtime became an exercise in repetitive misery.
Drex and I talked and talked. I want my life to have purpose. But what is it?
Apart from ensuring the success of my family, what do I want for myself? Is it being a doctor?
In what else have I invested myself for so many years? Why did I spend all those hours memorizing biochemical pathways and human anatomy? All those sleepless nights being on call?
What’s my alternative? What’s my fallback plan? To throw away a perfectly good, secure career? This is crossing the Rubicon. I realize that by giving up this opportunity, if I decide to go back to medicine, I’ll have to start all over again.
Yet knowing how way leads on to way / I doubted if I should ever come back.
— Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
This blog and other writing projects this past year have certainly helped me work on developing my voice. I get practice with the process of giving life to my ideas through words. And that’s powerful.
I want to be a writer. But I feel scared.
What if I paint the sky red and people laugh at me?
Artists can color the sky red because they know it’s blue. Those of us who aren’t artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we’re stupid.
— Jules Feiffer