Financial independence is fantastic. It allows you to wrangle free from the hum-drum existence of the W-2 asset class and aspire towards your individual life calling. Maybe you want to start a non-for-profit. Or volunteer at a local hospital. Or travel to the Galapagos islands and study the unique evolution of the flora and fauna. Whatever your passions may be, there is no greater accelerator than freeing up forty or so extra hours a week to pursue them. But what if your calling doesn’t make you happy?
What if the one thing that tugs at your brain, wakes you up in the middle of the night with your heart pumping, induces a seething cauldron of emotions that are not always positive? Believe it or not, many of us have a little more complicated relationship with our hopes and dreams.
Once money is not an issue anymore, should we follow our passions?
I have wanted to be a doctor as long as I can remember. Some of my first memories involve looking longingly at my father as he left for work in his gray laboratory coat with his stethoscope bouncing back and forth in his pocket. That vision stayed with me long after his death. It became the image by which I fashioned my own version of adulthood.
Like the dutiful child, I followed in his footsteps traversing medical school and residency unperturbed by a range of obstacles.
And I liked my job. I relished the opportunity to meet my patient’s problems head-on. I thrived on making each new diagnosis, starting every new treatment plan. But I was not my father. Years after his death, I searched through his medical papers and found a trove of lectures and notes. Partially stenciled graphs and long forgotten hypotheses.
The love was evident with each smudge of the pencil tip. These were the remnants of a man who had discovered his calling.
Deep down my heart quailed. Medicine was my profession. It was that which engaged many of my wakeful hours. But my calling? My true calling was something else completely different. Hidden under a barrage of intentionally placed emotional refuse sat the most frightening and unpalatable of truths.
Not only had medicine become the great impostor, my true passion often brought nothing but heartbreak.
But what do you do when your calling doesn’t make you happy
I was meant to write
With every bone in my body. With every word from my mouth. My mind a conduit transferring ephemera from electrical errata to pencil and paper. It’s the first thought upon waking and the last taste of consciousness before drifting into oblivion.
I have no deeper meaning or purpose (excluding children, family, friends, etc.). No interest in studying or researching or obtaining advanced degrees. I want to lock myself in a room, turn my computer on, and type.
And it makes me crazy. Driven by the curse of unwritten words, my mind can’t rest until my thoughts are vomited onto paper. It’s a compulsion. A maddening compulsion.
Writing is painful. And tumultuous. Translating thought and feeling into a jumbled clump of letters, I often get it wrong. The words fail. The feelings too difficult to convey.
Ecstasy and enmity.
Joy and pain.
I was meant to write
I write. I write a lot. On this blog. On another blog. But I couldn’t write all day. I would lose my grip on sanity.
So most of the time I’m a doctor. I don’t see this going away anytime soon. It brings a certain feeling of balance that is deeply necessary.
In what might be the greatest bit of ironic realization since reaching financial independence,
I do better with just a little less freedom.
“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.
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