44

 

efeac8335b0c05544c6faf5d94dc6335

Via Getty images

Today I am 44, a palindromic event that happens only once every 11 years.

I need to remind myself that growing older is a privilege denied to many, but dang, 44 really seems on the wrong side of youth.

Time to step up my skin care game.

It’s funny how much things have changed in the past year. I left a job that I thought I would have forever and I survived that quite nicely. I’m living more authentically than ever, even though that involves some temporary hardship as I live apart from Spouse and my kiddos until the end of the school year. My new job is even better than I imagined, though, and I’m just getting started.

Here’s an anecdote to illustrate the profound difference:

Last week I had to stop by the bank to deposit a check. I’d renewed my medical license and paid dues to several medical organizations, and my new employer cut me a reimbursement check, made out to me with “Dr.” in front of my name.

I had to wait in line several minutes at the bank and chatted with a few people around me. The old me would have been irritated with the wait and I probably would not have engaged with fellow patrons. The new me is not angry and talks to strangers.

When it was my turn, the bank teller immediately commented that we have the same birthday (And Happy Birthday to you, Lakeisha, if you are reading this!)

We joked a bit about how I was probably two decades older and then she looked at the check and said – with surprise – “Are you a doctor?”

I affirmed and she asked me what kind.

I said OBGYN.

She said that she always wanted to be an OBGYN.

I told her she should go for it.

We bantered a bit and she said that someone close to her needed fertility treatment.

I told her that, in fact, infertility was my speciality, she asked me several more questions and then requested four of my cards to give to people she knew. She effusively thanked me.

In the end, we both wished each other Happy Birthdays and left as friends.

As I drove away, I was smiling and thinking about the encounter. I asked myself how I was feeling and the answer came immediately: happy.

It almost brought me to tears.

On one hand, I was saddened that I didn’t recognize happiness during an ordinary day such that I had to question the strange emotion I was experiencing. 

On the other, I realized how far I’d come from my old situation.

I wouldn’t have stopped to ask myself anything. I definitely would have been annoyed by the wait. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been in the bank in the first place because I would have been too busy during the day to go there. The check would have eventually been lost in a pile of papers on my desk and I would have been out of luck.

Again: things have changed.

I had dinner last night with a former colleague and one of my best friends. I shared this anecdote with him and said that the biggest difference now is that I feel like I live so much more of my life as the best version of myself. I smile more. I engage. I am open to people. I laugh all the time. I am always, authentically me.

It took 44 years to get here and I’m still a work in progress, but it feels good.

I’m still making skin care a top priority for 2017, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “44

  1. I know, I know, double comment but I only catch up on blogs once a week. Your bit about being almost tearful after the bank resonated with me so deeply. I was on an away rotation in North Carolina this summer and was at Target post-call, just getting some simple things. I had a lovely exchange with the cashier and walked out to the views of the Blue Ridge…and burst into tears because I was so confused at the feeling of being happy. Amazing to realize that we’re sometimes chronically below that line, eh?

    • Wow. What a great comment. Yes, it was sad to realize this, but at least I did and can work on it, even though I wasted a lot of time below the line. (Love that analogy, BTW). The chronic emotional wear and tear of what we see in medicine can also be draining. Good for you to recognize this and have awareness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s