I try and choose a theme to start every new year with. It acts as a guide and reminder of what I have set for myself.
I decided that 2014 is the year of…
It was so beautiful, so poetic. A slow murmuring rebellion building up to a magnificent crescendo. I had applied for a training post in the speciality I work in and absolutely adore. Jetting abroad to present at an international conference and spend two weeks in the sun with a friend. The new guy in my life and I were exchanging pleasant, flirtatious messages. Uprising fitted beautifully, the sense of optimism I had for the new year was palpable before it had even started.
Then it all went to shit.
I didn’t get the job, thus having to wait a year before I can apply again. The conference thing fell through. The guy I was due to meet with threw some crumbs my way when what I needed was a loaf.
I’ll cover the devastation and what it means some other time.
One of my colleagues said, “Fuck ’em. And rise like the phoenix”
Uprising – losing what was never mine to begin with, starting at ground level right in the dirt, with nothing but blood, tears and gritted teeth. And now. Now it begins.
Now that medical school has finished, it feels as if the imaginary safety bubble has burst. After 6 long years I can no longer refer to myself as a medical student and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Sure, it’s nice that I have finished and I can be all grown up, but while everyone is smiling and congratulating me, I cannot help but feel a little underwhelmed. Not in the sense that I’m disappointed in my achievements, but more in a spaced-out ‘did I just do that?’ kind of way.
On the flip-side, I’m reacting to both no more school + emigration with a jittery energy that’s making me super productive, like a lady of leisure on amphetamines. Then sometimes the pace slows right down and I have time to contemplate the past intense year; travelling, the breakup of a long-term relationship, medical finals and the decision to move abroad. In the past, my personality-type would have crumpled up just thinking about it, but now I mostly smile and laugh, because that’s all you can do, and it has all helped me to become a better person, so it can’t be all bad.
I still suffer from insomnia but I have come to accept that it’ll probably stay that way until I settle into New Zealand. It allows me creative time, just as well because I have huge piles of yarn to get through, and they can’t go in my luggage as I have already devoted large amounts of space to the ‘looks nice but will be off in seconds’ underwear.
Tomorrow is the last day of the month. Between then and the first day: I sat my finals, passed them and qualified as a doctor, took a small trip abroad, drank myself into a mini-oblivion and now I’m quietly contemplating the next small step of the big move.
Because of all this, I am not sleeping and I am stubbornly refusing to contemplate what I’m actually going to do in New Zealand. If anyone asks any questions I quickly change the subject, but I don’t think immigration will accept the excuses I am layering upon myself.
Gearing up towards graduation is my last excuse. After that, planning. Srsly.
Something very unusual happened at the weekend. I was on a train in the middle of the afternoon, drunk (this isn’t what I’m getting at) and my mother and I noticed that a young woman was crying. I asked my mum in Italian if she had any tissues or water, but the only things we had to offer was a box of petit-fours, given to us at the restaurant where we had lunch.
We tentatively walked over (I think I stumbled) and the offer of chat and chocolates was gratefully received. The story was that she and her partner had just split up and she was naturally feeling lousy, vulnerable and emotional. She was surprisingly open with us and her story sounded so similar to mine; never-ending heart-sinking cycles combined with the small but constant chipping away at self-esteem and the inevitable question of, ‘Am I going mad?’
I reflected on all the reassurance I was given by so many kind people who used their own experiences and common sense to show me the way, almost a year ago. The woman was looking at me through her teary eyes and asked the same anxious questions I did: Would I ever get through this? Would I ever meet anyone else? Am I strong enough to go it alone?
I was in turmoil out in South-East Asia and so many people told me that everything would be fine. Some were long-time friends, others carried on for me from a distance. There were new friends and others were fleeting faces I met at a parties. But the resounding message was the same: I would get through this, it wouldn’t be easy, but eventually everything would change for the better.
And it did!
I learned to trust myself again. I had confidence in my perceptions and found peace. And because of a great coincidence, I was able to pass on everything I had learned to someone who needed it. In time she’ll believe it.
…was from a Spanish waitress
“Drink! Take lots of drug! Have lots of sex!”
I shouldn’t give too much thought to life after finals since my written papers are the day after tomorrow [!OMG!!11one] but I’m trying to get my head around what I want to get out of emigrating and am I taking on too much by trying to secure a medical job straight away. One of the reasons I decided to take on a big move was because jumping on the junior doctor conveyor belt in the UK wasn’t for me and booking a one-way flight was like taking back some control and popping the security bubble that has been my life for over 6 years.
So… is working as a doctor abroad the right thing to do or am I going through the process because it will bring me more security? I’m not in a place where I can afford to be fussy, but if I the opportunity to untangle knots in my heart is there, so I may as well take it.
Then there is the guilt. Halfway through our Bali trip, R and I were invited by a fisherman to his house for supper. Incidentally, his wife grilled the best mackerel I’ve ever had and I will spent the rest of my life going mad in trying to recreate it.
As the night progressed, we were talking about our lives and although I didn’t volunteer the information, my medical training came to light and the man beamed and said how proud my family must be and what an achievement it is. It was certainly a humbling experience, but I got that familiar pang in my gut, similar to times when patients – through their illness or pain – tell me how they wish me luck in my career.
I feel like a fraud. I get a lump in my throat when I think of my loved ones and the pride they exude because I am about to turn my back on a career path, like a toddler who has just thrown a bowl of pureed organic carrots on the floor, that his mother spent hours lovingly preparing.
Putting my logical hat on…
1) a medical degree doesn’t have an expiry date, so I’m not abandoning ship
2) a lot of my thoughts come down to my feelings of inferiority I had going through medical school – getting good grades, making a diagnosis or cannulating successfully meant very little because I would always put it down to luck than my own abilities.
It can go two ways: I can try to secure a medical job and prove myself wrong while I work, or I can take some time out and get involved with another project that has come to light which I think would suit me very much. I once read that in times of indecision, the best thing to is nothing. So I’m going to do just that. Then I remember that I can’t, because I’m revising.
Perhaps the procrastination thing has gone too far. Crochet isn’t going to help me to become a doctor, but it’s providing a decent enough outlet for release and gives me something else to do with my hands.
I found the pattern on Ravelry, the link is here. I haven’t been doing crochet for very long, but the instructions were ridiculously easy to follow and it took only a week to complete. I used an acrylic blend yarn from Sidar, I really liked the pale teal colour (although it looks icy blue in the photo) and I found some ceramic buttons which I wasn’t too sure about at first, but once they were sewn on they just completed it beautifully. So at least my laptop will be warm and snug when I fly into New Zealand in the middle of winter.
Now, I must work.
Edit: Ceramic buttons from buttonmad.com, L343