Happy With My Choices

Even though it’s Thursday, today is akin to Friday for us because Ben is taking tomorrow off. My work week has been really busy, because I’m hoping to take most of tomorrow off as well so we can hang out. I finished the tiling project, today I will try to mow the lawn, and the brush has all been picked up; therefore, we should be able to start on our next phase of projects. I’m not entirely sure what that will entail since we have a long list of needs, although many of them are complicated, time-consuming, or expensive. The deck and the bathroom floor (which has many cracked tiles) are two of the ones I’m more eager to take on.

I’ve been bad about making calls to my doctors this week. I need to schedule a few appointments (and change one), but I keep forgetting. I always remember after they’ve turned off their lines for the day and remember again in the early morning (like now) before they reopen. I suppose that during the actual work day, I’m busy and focused on my own job, and consequently, I forget to stop and make the calls. Today, I’ll try to make it a goal.

I can’t believe that today is already the last day of May. It seems like time has been flying. It was just February. I love this time of year, so I see no benefit in having the time pass so quickly. That said, I guess it’s a sign that I’m busy and enjoying daily life for the most part. I was just noticing the date the other day and realized it already been two years since I finished and graduated from my prosthetics and orthotics MS program at the University of Hartford. At this point, my cohort of classmates have all finished their first residency and have started the second. I see their occasional social media posts about the board exams and other such things. I’m so proud of all of them and happy for their progress and success. Strangely enough, I have not an iota of regret that I left that path behind and have gone an entirely different way. I’m also not jealous of what they’ve attained, although I would have predicted that I might be. I think the reason for my pure happiness and support for their achievements in the career path and lack of any regret of my own for going through all that schooling and working so hard in my classes only to abandon the field is because I absolutely made the right choice for me personally.

It’s been two years packed with personal growth and coming to a much better understanding of myself and I’m just wholly confident that the profession would be a terrible fit for me given the sensory challenges and inflexibility of the residency requirements, which would be nearly impossible for me to handle in terms of work schedule and social and physical demand. I’m also really happy with the work I am doing, so I’m sure that goes a long way toward making me feel very assured in my decision and satisfied with my career path. As a type-A, high-achieving personality, it’s common for me to prioritize prestige and accomplishments. Becoming a prosthetist, a challenging and noble profession, is certainly more alluring and aligned with these goals. However, it seems I’m changing and learning that ultimately what matters most is being happy and feeling good; therefore, my career priorities have shifted in a way that reduces the self-imposed pressure to have a flashy and impressive job. I’d much rather enjoy my day-to-day work and have a job that’s sustainable and accommodating for my physical, emotional, and social needs without rapidly burning me out day in and day out. I work with great people as well, so that also goes a long way towards fostering an enjoyable and fulfilling work environment.

It’s not always possible to know exactly what’s going to work well or not for me. When I started prosthetics school, admittedly, I went into it quite blindly, never having even shadowed someone working in the field. While doing so might have clued me into how poor a match it was for me sensory-wise, I still hold that it was a great program for me and exactly what I needed at the time to save me from continuing to crumble post-attack. I also lacked awareness and the vocabulary to really understand my sensory and autism-related challenges, since my diagnosis still remained unknown for two years after starting school. I couldn’t explicitly describe or list things that were difficult for me or made me feel sick. I struggled to notice the patterns in unworkable environments or activities, so I don’t blame myself for not anticipating the mismatch between the career field and my needs. Although in a perfect world it would perhaps be awesome and really gratifying to work with patients with limb loss or orthotic needs, our world is imperfect. As such, I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, as difficult or awkward as they felt at the time. I remember worrying myself literally sick some nights as I dreaded voicing my basically formed decision that I didn’t want to do residency after all that schooling and all the interviews and acceptances to Ben and my mom. I was so fearful to share an obviously unpopular and strange choice after all that time, work, and financial sacrifice went into my two years in the program. This anxiety was all made significantly worse by my lifelong instead desire to please and impress others.

Fortunately, both Ben and my mom, whose opinions I value most, were relatively understanding and supportive of my decision off the bat and became increasingly more so as we continued to discuss it in the following few weeks. I’m blessed to have loved ones who truly want the best for me and for me to be healthy and happy rather than necessarily esteemed and successful. I can’t think of a more valuable trait in family members. The rest of my family also got on board with the direction I decided to take and helped me feel accepted and loved despite me perceived “failure” and in the days that surrounded that departure from prosthetics when I was diagnosed as autistic. I’m so thankful for the compassion, support, and love they all shared with me. It can be really emotionally upsetting to receive a big diagnosis and new label or identify. Navigating that process was majorly assisted for me by the unwavering love from my family.

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