At a family dinner my uncle asked me a question:
“Would you do it all again?”
Simple question, hard answer. My parents, grandmother, brother, and various other family members were there – all awaiting what, I'm convinved, they were sure they’d hear. Instead I dropped a blow. After refusing to answer at first and being cajoled into answering I replied:
“It’s not that I wouldn’t, but right now I’m not sure. It’s really not been worth it and it’s a helluva lot harder than anyone understands. I don’t know…I don’t think I’d do it again. I know I wouldn't want my kids doing this.”
Almost everyone sat there, rather stunned. I’m sure they thought they’d hear me praise my training and the love that has grown inside me for medicine. Instead I was honest. Honest about the hardship, the frank disappointment, the depression that had set in many times, and just let them know I wasn't sure if I'd made a good decision. My uncle, who is by trade a lawyer, looked at me and shook his in agreement.
He then went on to expound on how he hated being a lawyer for the first 10 years following law school, which his wife agreed completely. This received incredulous replies from my grandmother and mom, to which my uncle and aunt echoed my frustrations - debt, disappointment, pressure, self-doubt, and the feeling of accepting a lie. He explained how the debt, the lack of esteem, and overall bullshit that he had to endure while fresh out of school made him almost quit several times. He expounded on how he hated people assuming he was "rich" because he was a lawyer and that he had originally believed he'd be wealthy when he entered law school. The harsh fact was, that for many years, they barely could afford to live.
He then looked at me directly and proceeded to inform me that it got better. It took time, but once you find what makes you happy it makes the job fantastic. He now loves what he does – though it wasn’t what he initially thought he’d be doing.
That was, for me, the only time that I truly felt that someone in my family understood what I felt. The sad part is that the only reason he understood it was because he had to endure something similar. You just can’t explain this to people who haven’t dealt with the process. They all look at you like you’re crazy and talk about the money, the prestige, and the myths that shroud the professions of medicine and law.
I hope that I'll find the peace and happiness that he has in law. I would really like to wake up most days and want to go to work. Right now I don't.