Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my future. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve starting looking ahead and thinking about fellowships after residency – something I never thought I would even consider. I’m starting to make plans for graduation this May. My husband and I have started talking about where we want to settle down eventually. And I’m starting to look into how on earth I’m going to pay off all of my medical school debt.
And it’s all very frustrating and stressful. I’ve always been a worrier. I am not someone who likes to go through life without a plan. I don’t like waiting until the last minute to make decisions. I love having everything planned out as far in advance as I can. That’s why I order my Christmas cards in October. That’s why I decided I wanted to be a doctor in the 4th grade. I like knowing what is going to happen.
But in my 27 years of life, I’ve also learned that this isn’t always the best way to live. I really struggled with this during college. I was so stressed about grades and getting into medical school and almost on a daily basis I would freak out about how on earth I was going to accomplish my dreams.
Luckily, since then, I’ve experienced a lot of success. Not really because of anything I’ve done, but because of how I’ve chosen to deal with worry. Years ago I realized that I’m not in control. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “We make plans and God laughs.” I don’t know if God necessarily laughs at us and our plans, but he definitely has bigger and better plans for us than we have for ourselves.
And even though I forget that sometimes, I try to remind myself in times like these. It’s so easy in my life to worry. People ask me ALL THE TIME how I plan to work out my life. How can a pilot be married to a physician? How can you raise a bunch of kids with the hours you will be working? How are you going to make that work?
My answer is always the same. I have absolutely no idea. One day a time, that’s how. I can’t predict what is going to happen. Maybe I’ll be a hospitalist in 3 years. Maybe I’ll do a fellowship and not finish for another 7. Maybe I’ll get hit by a bus next week. I have no way of knowing.
And that’s okay. The most important thing is the here and now. Right now – I’m sick. So today I’m going to go to the doctor. Hopefully I’ll feel better and then I can get some homework done tomorrow. Right now – I have some dishes to do in the kitchen. Right now – I need to take a shower and get ready for the day. And that’s really all that matters.
My husband and I just saw “The Martian.” (It’s amazing. I won’t spoil it for you, but you definitely need to see it.) In that movie Matt Damon’s character talks about how at some point everything will go wrong for you. And you can either give up or get to work. You just start by solving one problem. Then another and another. And that’s as true for space travel as it is for life.
So right now I need to do a few things, and the rest is a Future Emily problem.