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Lives of Doctor Wives: A New Beginning

Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Beginning

Howdy! Since this is my first post as a pre-med contributor for LDW, I wanted to take a few moments to introduce myself. 

My name is Natalie and I am the wife of an aspiring med-student. We willl call him B. We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary in July and reside in the lovely state of Texas...hence the occasional use of the word y'all. B is a non-traditional student with a previous career as a police officer. This summer has entailed MCAT preparations/testing and the arduous application process. Whew! We are exhausted. I know you can relate. I am thrilled to be contributing to LDW and am so excited to have found a community in which to share this experience. I cannot wait to get to know you!

"We are applying to medical school!" About 16 months ago I found myself excitedly sharing this monumental news with family, friends, and anyone with ears, honestly. I still find myself making that statement and recently asked my hubby if it bothered him that I used the word 'WE?' After all, I was not the one who took 37 hours of science classes over the last year to fulfill the prerequisites. I will not be the one spending countless hours studying. But still...WE. Right? He assured me that WE is definitely appropriate because he couldn't do it without me. First of all, swoon! Secondly, I know in my heart that statement is true. I hope you know that too. We will walk with our men throughout this entire process. B needs my support and I am happy to give it. The path to becoming a physician is long and difficult, and we are learning as we go. I decided that it would be appropriate to dedicate this first post to sharing just a few lessons I have learned along this journey so far.

Be flexible.
I think we probably all go into this with an idea of how we would like this experience to unfold. It would be foolish not to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about which schools to apply to, where you would like to live, what type of medical school experience your spouse would like to have, etc. But (you knew there was a but, right?) let's face it...the statistics on aamc.org show that on a national level only 43% of all med-school applicants actually matriculate. That is a little daunting if you ask me. This is where flexibility comes in. Personally, we would love to stay in Texas (hooray for in-state tuition) and we would love to be as close as possible to family. However, I am learning that any preconceived notion of control I thought we might have over this process has already been thrown out the window. We are applying to a large selection of schools in order to give us the best chance possible. It would honestly be a blessing to get in anywhere. And I am really making the effort to perceive the unknown as exhilarating rather than terrifying. I have had so much fun fantasizing about where we could be living in the next year. Maybe I will be city girl who learns to take public transportation, a novel idea for a small town Texas girl! New experiences, scenery, and restaurants...sounds fun! Bring it on.

Don't lose your identity.
From here on out, our fellas will forever be known as the med-student, resident, doctor, etc. This is not just a career choice, it is an identity. I witnessed this phenomenon firsthand in B's previous career. Whether he was on-duty or off-duty, he was always a cop. And from here on out we will be known as doctor wives. Please do not think I am being negative here. That absolutely rocks! But I have already realized that chasing a dream this big can be so consuming that it has the potential to swallow you whole if you let it. And I imagine (and I'm sure those of you who have been there would agree) that it only gets more consuming the farther into it you go. Resident's hours...enough said. Yes, everything I am doing right now is to further B's dream of becoming a doctor. It's now my dream too. But, I do feel it's important to find myself in this process as well. You see, before we made this big decision my life had gotten a little stale without me even realizing it. This is the most excited I have been in a long time because I plan to use this experience to try to reinvent myself as well. I have put some real thought into rediscovering the things that bring me joy and pursuing them. I have started a blog revolving solely around the idea of happiness. I am sure I will end up writing about this journey some, but more than anything it has just been about what makes me ridiculously happy. I am starting a creative writing class at the local community college next week. I also look forward to living in a larger market and having the opportunity to take some interior design classes when B starts med-school. So, whatever your passions may be, pursue them. You will be better for it and so will your spouse. 

Let go of anxiety.
I know, I know...easier said than done, right? I just heard you audibly sigh through the screen. Honestly, this has been the toughest thing for me thus far and I do not expect to master it any time soon. But, I am proud to say that I am making a valiant effort. My ah-ha moment about anxiety came earlier this summer. I found myself constantly saying the following things: "If we can just get through this semester..." or "After the MCAT, we will feel better..." or "Once the applications have been submitted we won't be so stressed..." You know just as well as I do that this process requires a lot of waiting. As soon as you get one thing done, another one is looming. I guess what I realized is that there will always be something to worry about. Once B has been accepted we will have to prepare for a move, then the stresses of med-school, step tests, residency, fellowship...the list goes on and on. And if I continue to be anxious about every little step, I could very well find myself being a stressed out mess for the next decade. Literally. That is no way to live. So, I am trying to find ways to let go of anxiety and I encourage you to do the same. Some things that work for me: prayer, writing, talking it out with B, exercise, getting lost in something creative, really loud rock music, and on occasion, red wine. You know...a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I realize that everyone's journey is different and I still have a lot to learn. This website is successful because it is a great place to share experiences and learn from one another. So, if you are so inclined to help out a new gal such as myself, please feel free to share your wisdom. I am all ears! 

you can also find me at thehappyredhead.com




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