Paddle Your Own Canoe

paddlecanoe

There are plenty of things about being a third year medical student that are hard. You’re never entirely sure of your responsibilities, you’re almost always in the way and most of the time, you get your feet on the ground just to switch services again. It is the definition of in flux. Despite this, third year is also the time when you are supposed to pick your specialty. Picking your specialty is somewhat like picking a spouse. In fact for some people, their specialty will last longer than their spouse.

For whatever it says about me, classmates who don’t know me particularly well always assumed I would do Surgery. I wasn’t so convinced; after all, it’s a notoriously difficult residency and lifestyle and I like my dogs, my husband and my running. I loved my OBGyn clerkship and was fairly convinced that was the way to go for me. Until General Surgery. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Surgery, not unlike falling in love with your spouse. As Abbey once said, when you know you know. As soon as I admitted it to Will and to my closest friends (and switched my Advisor and my entire 4th year schedule…), I just felt at peace. I was excited again about the next phase, invigorated by the challenge of tinkering with the human body.

As word spread, however, that I ditched OB to General Surgery (we get a little cliquey about such things), I started to get reactions from friends that included, “Well, do anesthesia before you really commit” and “Are you sure? Don’t you want kids?” As sure and as happy as I was (and am), doubt started to creep in.

While I was walking the dogs late this afternoon, I realized that choosing General Surgery as a 30 something female is par for the course for me. I’ve never been one for the easy path. I’ve never been one who avoids an experience because it might be arduous or difficult. People ask me the same thing about marathons/my running life: “Aren’t they hard?” or “I could NEVER run that many miles.” Ultimately what works for me (and ignites the spark in me) doesn’t have to work for everyone else. I love running and I embrace the challenges and disappointments that come with it. Some days it’s easy and I don’t have to think before heading out the door and some days it takes sheer force of will to get out there. But it’s always worth it. I am approaching General Surgery in the same way. I know it is an exhausting road, but I can tolerate exhaustion if it’s something I’m passionate about. That is a lesson gleaned from life as a long distance runner…

Paddle your own canoe. 

 

5 thoughts on “Paddle Your Own Canoe

  1. Judy Cole

    Sarah, Your logic here is perfect! I totally see where being a marathoner has been your mental and physical training ground for general surgery. You know how to dig deep and continue on when it feels beyond you. I have no doubts that you will be awesome at it! Congrats on figuring this out! Not easy! Go Girlfriend!!!

    Reply
    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Thanks so much Judy! I can’t believe we’re at this point; seems like we were just starting school. I never cease to be amazed at the gifts that come from running…

      Reply
      1. Judy Cole

        I can’t believe it’s third year already as well! Wow! Totally agree about the gifts of running. I love what it has done for me physically; but I think I enjoy what it gave me mentally even more:)

        Reply
  2. foxrunsfast

    “They never said it would be easy – they just said it would be worth it.” 🙂 I love that quote and I LOVE this post!! One of the top 5 regrets of the dying is that they regretted they did not have the courage to live a life true to themselves. I’m so happy for you that you will never have that regret. I am a big believer in going with your gut and it’s clear that Surgery is where you shine and are happiest! Let the haters hate – celebrate that you’ve found something special that gets you fired up and excited about life!! I’m so thrilled for you! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      It’s so true. If I have to get out of bed every day and work a job that is exhausting regardless of specialty, I want it to be something I’m excited about! Thinking of you through this storm and hoping you have lots of great Netflix for the treadmill!

      Reply

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