I was in Boston tonight and met up with an old college friend who still lives here for dinner. At 32, she has finally finished medical school, residency, and her fellowship, and she is now working full time in the Boston area as a GP. She said she wanted to do this as opposed to specialize since it would give her the most work-life balance, but as she has discovered, it certainly has not been easy at all. She’s experienced some very surprising and emotionally draining patients, bringing home a lot more baggage than she ever would have imagined. And as she’s seen, there are not enough GPs to go around for all these patients who need help.
She recounted the two months she spent traveling through Europe before she started her job and how she met people 10+ years younger than her, doing the exact same travel route. She had conversations with them where she felt that they seemed far more worldly and mature than she ever was. “I feel like all this time I spent studying and studying and going through endless school that I let my life pass me by,” she said. “I love what I do, but I could have spent my twenties doing more exploration of the world, and now that time is gone.” She said she feels like at this age, now that she has a job and is figuring out her finances, sorting through her medical school loans and setting up her 401K for the first time that she is now legitimately and finally an adult.
I have no regrets about never going to grad school. I was terrible at science, so medical school was never an option for me. Business school sounded like bullshit to me. Law school – what a joke for me. I changed my mind in my early twenties about “climbing the ladder” and not taking as much time off to prove that I was harder working – what delusional American lifeless thinking. You really only have each year of your life once, and if travel or cooking or volunteering is what you are passionate about doing, then you need to make time to do that. I want to lead a life of least regrets. It makes me sad to think that my friend feels that although she loves being a doctor now that she regretted not traveling, not doing enough self exploration in her 20s. Because each year we get older, there comes more responsibility, more things to do and get done. It never really gets easier.