One of my best friends once gave me some great advice. I was freaking out on the phone with her and she said, "You know, when I feel that way, I write about it and it helps me get some perspective."
I went home last weekend to attend the national family medicine conference and to see my family. I also went in order to hang out with a friend who goes to school in New Orleans, someone I rarely get to actually hang out with.
The conference was a blast. It was interesting to see so many people interested in family medicine; the lectures were informative and a great introduction to some clinical skills we'll polish up this year but haven't been introduced to yet, and I even got to brush off my debate skills and write a resolution for the student congress to discuss.
I met lots of people, talked to lots of residency programs, and realized I probably am not going to do family medicine.
I hope I am actually keeping the open mind I tried to promise myself I would keep--to consider all specialties as I come across them. But I definitely want to work in women's health. And I definitely want to provide abortions. And I definitely think that being an OB is the place for me. All of this, sure, with a grain of salt and a knock on wood.
None of this really freaked me out, though. What was bothering me was that I was at this conference for some pretty selfish reasons: as an FMSA board member, the family med department paid for me to fly out to KC; I got to visit my mom and hang out with my family; and I got to see my friend (disclosure: he's a boy. There's the rub).
My friend and I went around to lots of the residency exhibits to visit with people, pick up a farm's worth of animal-shaped stress relief squeezies, and just wander around. However, something stood out to me. I realized that while this friend was someone I cared about, and had contemplated having a long-distance relationship with, I became aware of the fact that there simply was no way that we were going in the same direction. He's interested in primary rural care, which is awesome. However, he also has to practice in Louisiana for five years after residency. This would be cool--except that I like places with winter. Let's not forget why I moved to Milwaukee in the first place--Missouri was just too stinkin' hot in the summer. A lot of the time that I've been contemplating our relationship (friendship+ if you will), I kept thinking that, "You know, Louisiana is a cool place. It'd be neat to live there," etc.
But, that's just not true. I mean, it is true, I'm sure it's cool to live in Louisiana. But I like snow. I like winter and fall and spring and seasons in general. And I shouldn't be thinking about giving up what I like just for a hypothetical relationship.
It's scary. I don't want to give up the nice, backup-y feeling of "But I like him! and he likes me!" And there is always the tiny voice that is whispering, "but what if no one else ever likes me?"
I have to take a stand for myself. I have to put my foot down, so to speak, even though part of me is balking. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and just because I snagged one once doesn't mean that I'll never snag another one.
I realized after I got home that one of my favorite quotes had been there, waiting for me to remember it: "Aimer, ce n'est pas se regarder l'un l'autre, c'est regarder ensemble dans la même direction."
"Love consists not of gazing at one another, but of gazing together in the same direction." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The hard part is knowing when you have turned your gaze in the wrong direction.