How to let go of something you've invested so much time in

Profile photo of Vic Tor Vic (@Vic-Tor) 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Hey guys. I’m writing this to ask for advice. I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible.

Essentially, I’m at a point in my life where I’ve a major decision to make. For the last three years of my life, I’ve been pursuing a medical career, specifically in surgical technology. I’m now undergoing clinicals, and I am completely sure this isn’t for me, contrary to what I’ve made myself believe for the past few years. However, how does one differentiate between aversion to commitment and struggle (or, perhaps, a more proper term is laziness) and a genuine knowing that something isn’t truly meant for you? How do I know when I say to myself that I am meant for something else, I am not merely letting my lower self take over, and in consequence, masking laziness as an epiphany to avoid the hardships of this medical program. I always find it a dismal task to sit down and actually study (which, in reality, diminishes my knowledge in surgical concepts, and therefore my performance as a surgical tech during surgery), so perhaps my distaste stems from an overall conscious lack of trying. Throughout my life, I’ve never been good with decisions and have been easily led, and now I am in a position from which it is arduous to pry myself out of. Upon acceptance to a ST (Surgical Technology) program, I moved to San Diego on August 2016. Since then, I have both been working and receiving some financial assistance from my parents to endorse my survival here (my parents, who have such high hopes for me in this program, are yet another reason, if not the primary, that it makes leaving this program so difficult).

I draw and play the keyboard, and in high school, I won several contests as a photographer. It is in these activities, those of creating, that I feel most alive, that I can do the most. In pursuing a medical career, however, I have somewhat neglected my practice in art and thwarted my ability to expand my horizons in these things (or maybe, more honestly, it was just bad time management). I’ve definitely continued to make music, but feel as though I’m not giving it my all, especially while in clinicals. In fact, I feel as though I’m half assing everything in my life.

So, my dilemma is as follows: I do not know whether or not to drop the program. My Plan B, which consists of quitting the program, involves either juggling two jobs (or one) to survive out here. Immersing myself in self education, and initiating classes for audio engineering in August, something that is more relevant to what I want to do, is also part of my potential plan. I am afraid to make this move because, as of yet, I have no degree and I am 23, and a flood of worries about my life and my family’s opinion of me as whole come pounding through any time I even think of quitting this, which is something I’ve invested so much time in. There’s also the justification I’ve created for remaining in the program: if I stay, I’ll have a stable job and time in the future to do what I want. Anyways, I have a phlebotomy licence, which is a job I hope to have in order to continue living out here while undergoing this transition. I really just want to start Plan B today, but I am rarely certain of myself, and unfortunately, I am not used to taking risks. I know I only have so much time to live, and only so much time to fulfill my dreams.

Anyway, writing this is therapeutic. I know the answer is obvious, but I guess talking about it helps, so I can hear it outside of my head.

Thanks! Any advice or links to articles help.

March 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm
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Ellie (1,353)M (@tangledupinplaid21) 3 weeks, 1 day ago ago

Hello :) Like you’ve already said, I think the answer is obvious. I think that when we are in these situations, they seem like a much huger deal than they really are. I am not trying to downplay the intensity of this situation and how it feels for you, but only put it in perspective. You get overwhelmed thinking about this (understandably), but taking no action probably won’t improve the situation. 

If you were to leave this program and pursue a different route, your parents would be disappointed, but they would get over it, and I’m sure you don’t want to make your choices based on fear or what others expect of you, instead of what your heart is telling you. San Diego is an expensive place to live. You could relocate to somewhere cheaper, or even volunteer for a while until your new path becomes clearer. There are so many options out there! 

You may not know what to do at first, since you aren’t used to taking risks (isn’t it about time to start?) but things in life have a tendency to fall into place as you go. Picture the WORST case scenario, and it’s probably nothing you couldn’t figure out and even learn from.

I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I do believe that our guts and hearts tell us what’s right, and it sounds like yours has already spoken. Good luck! 

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munchkin (0) (@rugala) 2 weeks, 2 days ago ago

I’ve been in your situation seventeen years ago when I was in medical school. It was a good career choice but it was becoming obvious to me that medicine wasn’t what I hoped for it to be, and that I wasn’t among the right people either, not in my element… To put the long story short, my inner nature eventually won over but it was much harder for me to quit and start over in midlife then it would have been during quarter life crisis. What I can’t get back is all the health I lost and all the years I wasted. And to this day people look at me like I’m a weirdo for walking away from my level of income. You seem like a smart person and you still have plenty of time to figure out who you are, what you want and to become successful doing it, without struggling your whole life with “what if”. The only thing I would recommend is finish up the med school get your MD and use it next to your name when you need it – it will help with other things in life and people will take you more seriously but then go on to doing your thing. Remember that money is the means, not the ends in life. The stress and responsibility of medical profession wracks absolute havoc on your health, family life and makes creativity nearly impossible, so the only reason to do this if you feel the real calling, otherwise it will ruin you and eat you alive.

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Peter (116) (@Gismo) 1 week, 5 days ago ago

I can completely relate – I only wish that it was me who was only 23 ;-) I’d say go with your gut feeling, Alan watts talks about; why survive if surviving is doing something you don’t enjoy doing for 8 (or more) hours a day?
It sounds like you already know what other areas you could throw yourself at, and yes there’s more risk there, but you only get one life – what story do you want to write with that pen? The safe steady income, parent-pleasing-story or the one where you furfill you inner longings? I know which one I’d pick.. and which one caries the potiential.. You will always survive.. my brother once told me something that has rung true for me as well, that whenever he was nearing some invisible barrier and things were looking lost, the universe came along with something, a new job, a new oppertunity, helping him/me along the way.. I think it will too for you, just be sure to grab those oppertunities when they appear, that’s all it takes! :-) 

Best of luck! 

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