This career transition has not always been easy, there have been times that I have been frustrated, felt hopeless, felt unsupported, or lacked a sense of direction.
However, today I am truly grateful.
I am grateful for the opportunities that my new lifestyle and work have afforded me. I am grateful for the time that I have been able to spend with family and friends, after almost 10 years spent away pursuing my education. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my many interests in various areas. Most of all I am grateful for the time this departure has allowed me to focus on myself, to read, and to learn (I mean to truly learn because I am interested, and not because it is required of me).
Yesterday I volunteered with Ballet Austin, assisting with community education programming, bringing children from local schools in to watch arts performances. It made my day listening to the children “Oooo!” and “Ahh!” throughout the show, and I chuckled trying to herd them into and out of the theatre. It made me incredibly grateful for the patience of elementary school teachers, reminded me of the importance of instilling art education early in childhood, and personally inspired me creatively.
It was so nice to be able to tell my sister earlier this week, “Yes, I can volunteer” (in the middle of the day on a Friday). Not only did I feel like myself again, performing as a volunteer, but I am beginning to feel like a better version of myself. I am finally dedicating time for myself. I have spent so much of my time studying to serve others that I lost myself along the way. I feel that I am finally enjoying the small moments in life and noticing things around me. I can smile and chat with the mom and child at the coffee shop next to me, or take the scenic drive just because I am not in a rush to get to work. I cannot believe how much changing careers has changed my entire outlook on life. Or, perhaps my evolving outlook on life is what made my career no longer viable in my life plan. Either way, all I can say is I am grateful for the new perspective I have been granted.
What has changed?
When I showed up at my former job, my bosses jokingly introduced me as the resident that liked working for free, presumably due to my numerous volunteer responsibilities on my resume. Perhaps that is true. Maybe that is where I feel a sense of comfort. Some may find it strange that I could not find that same peace as a physician, but I think it comes from the fact that I did not feel that I could truly relax, give my time freely, and interact with others enjoyably when I was working as a physician.
In many ways, for the first time in my life, I feel that I can breathe, focus on myself, take time to do things that I enjoy, and don’t feel the stress of time constraints. Do I still have deadlines? Yes. Has time management almost become harder in some ways? Yes. However, I believe the mental freeing of a non-traditional schedule has done me more good than anything else.
Grateful for my Journey
I think volunteering has always helped me to get out of my own head, remind me of other issues going on in the world, and feel a sense of connection and comfort in working with others. Regardless of where my future journey takes me, whether my job is traditional, or virtual like it is currently, connecting with people is my mainstay and helps me stay grounded. I am at peace with my decision to leave medicine and grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me to truly explore and connect with myself.