Truth: most of my friends will be graduating from med school next year.
I won’t be. Despite having (almost) four years of university under my belt, the very notion of being a doctor terrifies me.
Instead of doing my final year, I’ll be doing a research year. With a bit of luck, I’ll be doing something in paediatric psychiatry, looking at somatisation disorders.
Deep down, I know I’m not ready to graduate. I’m not ready to take on the big bad world, and that’s okay. I turn twenty-two this year, but I feel as if I’m only beginning to come into my prime—I’ve only had my driver’s licence for three months. I’m only beginning to get proper treatment for what has been an eight-year battle with depression and anxiety and possibly borderline personality disorder. I’m only starting to work out who I am and what I want and I know that I’m still a couple of years away from being comfortable enough to say I’m a doctor.
Being a doctor is hard work. Long hours, overtime, and your work never leaves you. I come home from placement and think endlessly about the cases I’ve seen, if there was anything we missed, how I need to improve. And then there’s being an adult as well—budgets. Cleaning. Laundry. Remembering to send birthday cards. Plus there’ll be studying for places in specialty training schools and constantly keeping up with the new developments in medicine.
I’m not ready for that. I spent most of my high-school and early university years avoiding people and relationships, finding myself unsteady on my feet. I don’t want to be like that as a doctor. I don’t want to be an adult without ever experiencing what it’s like to be a young person. I want to have late nights and do silly things and achieve my non-medical dreams. I want to have a life before I settle down to be a doctor.
It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this. Part of me believes it’s trivial to put my medical career on hold so I can write novels and ethics proposals. But on the other hand, I don’t want to be dead before thirty. I want to be well enough to survive medicine. Yes, I’m afraid, but at the same time, I’m proud of myself.
I’m more than medicine, and I hope you are too.