"Instinct is... instinct, and it is a combination of stuff that goes on inside ourselves and nudges us one way or the other to a particular conclusion that we had no intent on visiting or embracing."
--Sidney Poitier on Oprah Presents Master Class episode aired 4/22/12
This quote has much more of an impact when you hear it spoken in Sidney Poitier's smooth, lyrical voice. The legendary actor is a prime example of someone who followed and found his life's calling, and if you don't know his life story it is worth reading. He looks at the world with questioning eyes, with the eyes of a wise man who questions everything except for who he is as a person. I never would have defined instinct in these terms. My definition is more animalistic, more primal as I associate instinct with the way my snake recoils when something frightens him. But I think Mr. Poitier is saying in more poetic terms. Instinct is simply something one does without thinking... something one is compelled to do with no planning or forethought. Although not explicitly stated in his description of the word, there is the implication that unlike impulsiveness, instinct is not wreckless but rather serves to help one survive.
I was struck by this quote because it so beautifully describes my experiences of late. I never planned on leaving my residency program. I never planned on leaving medicine. But one morning, fully recovered after a week of battling a mild infection, I woke up and said to myself, "I'm not going back [to residency]... I'm certain I'm not going back... and I'm never going back." I've tried explaining it to people but of course they all think I'm crazy. I have tried to relay the urgency with which I felt the need to leave the job. To me it feels like a matter of survival; if I go back I will die. And it is not anxiety or literal fear; in other words I don't believe I will literally die. But I do feel that if I go back to that job, a part of me will die, and I may never recover. What part of me would vanish into disintegration? I don't know exactly. The best sense I have is that some part of my spirit will be destroyed. Like a caged animal that one day just gives up to the point that even if the door its cage is left open, it prefers the relative comfort and safety of its cold, damp enclosure to the warmth and endless possibilities of the outside world. I am plaguthis recurring thought that over the past eight years (four of medical school and just under four of residency) I have little by little lost part of myself to the point that I cannot afford to lose anymore. I know I must take the path I am taking if I want to lead the life I was meant to live. But everyone else thinks I'm crazy... no one else seems to understand my actions.... no one except for possibly Mr. Poitier.
Monday, April 23, 2012
After weeks of much writing and debating with myself, I have decided to post my daily journal in a blog for the entire world to read. How narcissistic of me to think the world cares about my inner struggles?! Quite the contrary, I am compelled to write this blog out of the loneliness and isolation that define my life… feelings by which I am especially plagued during those introspective moments of journaling. You see, as a psychiatry resident I have learned much too well that the sadness, isolation, and suffering I have experienced in my life are not unique to me... my internal struggle is not my own but rather a struggle with which many can relate. Without a doubt, members of my generation (Gen X b.1965-1979) and that of my siblings' (Gen Y b.1980-1997), certainly share similar feelings seeing as how we were raised by the same overindulgent, constantly praising baby boomer parents. (I'll discuss the significance of this in a future blog.). I am tired of suffering quietly and alone. I have tried reaching out to those around me, but conveniently I have surrounded myself with a wall of emotionally shallow and emotionally guarded individuals (with my boyfriend possessing the best of both of these maladaptive traits… but that’s another story for another day). So here it is - the first post of a blog with which I hope to reach out and try to find other individuals in this world who like me lead what on the outside appear to be successful, put together lives but who on the inside are an emotional mess… unhappy with their lives but unsure how to get the life they really want … maybe even unsure what the life they really want looks like.
In this blog, I will look back down the path I have traveled in an effort to better understand how I ended up where I am in hopes that along the way I will figure out where I want to go and how to get there. I desperately want to hear about the experiences of others... I want to hear your stories and your struggles and your thoughts. Maybe together we can help each other along on this journey they call life.
And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?... Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself
My God what have I done?!
- Excerpt from the Talking Heads’ song “Once in a Lifetime”