Anticipatory Grief

Entering the final few months of residency. It’s a really weird, mixed feeling. On one hand, being done with residency is definitely something to celebrate, even for those (like everyone in my class) going on to fellowships and further training. Residency is harder by far than anything I’ve ever done — intellectually, emotionally, physically — and I admit I’ll be glad when I sign out my pager for the last time.

But the flip side of finishing residency is the leaving of everything. Leaving my fellow trainees. Leaving the safety net of having someone else help with decision-making. Leaving my home.

After a little back and forth, I decided on a fellowship that is not offered at my home institution, meaning that I have to leave no matter what. That was a tough decision in itself; at one point I actually thought about doing a different fellowship just so I could stay. (Yes, that was silly. But that’s how much this town has got under my skin.) But now I have to find a place to live in this new city where I’ll be for the next couple years, and I kind of don’t want to? Because signing a new lease will mean I really am leaving my current place, and that I am committing to place A instead of place B.

The decision-making logic that went into my choice of where to go for fellowship was pretty convoluted, and in retrospect, not all that sound. I made the same bad choices about a decade ago and still regret it. I keep trying to pretend that it’s great! I’m excited! New adventures! in the hope that saying it enough will make it true. But here I am, on a bright Sunday morning in March, trying not to cry.


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