Something funny has happened over the last year. I used to self identify as a physician. It was a large part of who I supposed myself to be. Of course, I was more than just that. I was a spouse and father, a brother and a son, and all the various other ways in which we see ourselves. But reaching financial independence and pursuing half retirement has sparked a deeper change in my self image. There has been a sort of identity eclipse.
Doctor is no longer the word that comes to mind when I describe myself. It has taken a back seat to other more pressing parts of my identity. I am no less a physician than I was yesterday.
It just matters less to me.
I was born a doctor
There is no time in life that I can remember not ardently believing that I was going to be a doctor. From the earliest of ages, I self-selected in that direction. It was the only profession I ever considered, Even as I struggled with a significant learning disability. Maybe I couldn’t read. But it was not going to stop me from going to medical school.
When ardent wishes become reality, identity and passion become intertwined. It no longer becomes what you do; it is who you are. It is who I was.
I was the guy who went to medical school. It was the easy answer at cocktail parties. The way friends and family introduced me to strangers. The topic of idol talk at social events.
Is it any wonder the psychic distress that burnout with medicine caused? It would take a complete identity eclipse to survive the much needed drastic change in my work schedule.
From doctor to communicator
The transformation came with creativity. I have always considered myself a writer. But this new life I am living as a podcaster and public speaker encompasses so much more. I have become a communicator.
At least that is how I see myself as this identity eclipse has taken place. I am no less a doctor than I was six months ago. It just defines less of who I am. I am a writer and a talker, a public speaker, and a voice you hear over the radio waves.
These things feel a lot more like me than being a doctor ever did. They fit me more comfortably. I would always shrink from the recognition of my profession in public. I no longer shrink anymore.
I’m proud to talk about what I do. Who I am.
I never thought in a million years that I would be pulling back from medicine. I never thought that I would identify myself in other ways besides being a doctor. In the last year, however, I have had a complete identity eclipse.
I now see myself as a communicator. As a writer, podcaster, and public speaker.
This moniker fits me much more comfortably. It sits better with who I see myself to be.
And for twenty hours a week, I am also a doctor. It’s just something I do.
“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.
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