I sometimes grieve the life I left behind … and that’s OK. Necessary, even.
I wonder if I got in my own way, if I tried hard enough, if I fought hard enough. What would have happened if I believed in myself? Trusted that I could accomplish what I set out to do? Accepted love and help along the way?
We often use our current knowledge to judge decisions we made long ago; that’s a flaw in the process. We did the best we could with what we knew back then. How differently might we feel if we reflect through a lens of self-compassion rather than self-judgment?
The life I have now has become progressively simpler. It is quieter and slower than the military surgical life would have been … and that’s OK. Necessary, even.
Maybe I could have been happy if I had stayed in the military. Maybe I could have thrived if I believed I had what it takes to be the badass surgeon I wanted to become. Or maybe I wouldn’t be here at all, considering I risked my career to save my life.
Maybe I can be happy right here, with the doggo that taught me how to love, live, play, and forgive. Maybe this simple life is what I was craving all along — truly alive and free to be me.
This isn’t the life I fought hard for years to obtain, and maybe that’s the lesson. This is the life I created when I stopped fighting the desire to be anyone other than myself. This is the life I worked hard to save — this is my life — and that’s OK. Necessary, even.
Accepting what is and allowing ourselves to reflect, process, and feel all that arises along this journey called life can be hard … and that’s OK. Necessary, even.
Jillian Rigert is an oral medicine specialist and radiation oncology research fellow.