Everyone celebrates your DrSpouse graduating from med school or matching. A video of your child learning how to walk gets a billion “likes.”
But there are NO celebrations for you for all that you do. That’s when you look at your life as a medical spouse and begin to realize:
I’m “the support.”
It would be awesome if that didn’t bother you, but it does. Maybe you make these sacrifices:
- Share one car while they get dibs on it for their work
- Had to quit your successful job
- Took a lesser position commensurate with your skills
- Forgo promotions at work
- Moved to a city where you don’t have family and don’t know the nearest grocery store
- Have to be frugal because you have to pay back medical school loans (that you inherited from your DrSpouse!)
As you do this, you watch as your career path slopes unnaturally backward. And You feel unhappy for not achieving your full potential:
- You haven’t gone back to school or gotten that degree
- You haven’t started your business
- You haven’t learned new skills
- You haven’t broken into your new field
Maybe you resent medicine. Your DrSpouse. Your kids.
And then you enter into an endless spiral of burnout and depression because you feel powerless to the outcomes in your life.
Friend, don’t spiral!!
Let me put a few things into perspective to calm your anxious, restless soul, friend.
Here are some considerations to think about.
1. Give Value To Your Work
Let’s look at your situation now together:
Your DrSpouse is visibly successful. They save lives. Their career gets TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy glorifying their profession.
Instead, you’re wiping butts, making appointments, and folding laundry. You don’t get any acolytes, awards, or recognitions, or TV shows.
You can’t help but feel￼ like they’re making a difference, and you’re invisible and insignificant.
The problem is fundamentally in how you are evaluating your work.
Let me ask you:
What yardstick are you using???
Let’s take a person who is making $1 Million a year. If income is your unit of measurement for success then yes, this person is very successful. Let’s say this person is dumping metric tons of pollution into the river every day, exploiting workers in terrible conditions, and making the world a worse place. Is this person still successful?
Now, let’s take somebody who is building a strong marriage and raising some outstanding kids who will become outstanding adults who everybody wished they parented. But this person have no followers on social media and make zero income. Is this person successful?
You tell me.
I don’t have to tell you what I think.
2. Keep The Course
The medical journey is like running a long-distance race. Knowing when to slow down and speed up — just like a marathon runner — is key to success.
If you’re running at full speed the whole way because you’re terrified some other runner is going to pass you, you will crash and burn. Instead, if you know when to slow down even as people pass you, you actually will pass everybody who once passed you. And you win.
You have to trust this medical journey and know that even if the perception is you FEEL like you are being passed, you’re not. You’re exactly where you are meant to be. When you look back, you’ll realize you were walking along a successful path all this time.
3. Know You Have Plenty of Time
You probably fear that time is running out because medical training takes a notoriously long:
Premed ▶️ MCAT ▶️ White Coat Ceremony ▶️ Step 1, 2, 3 ▶️ Residency Match ▶️ Intern/Prelim Year ▶️ Residency ▶️ Chief Year ▶️ Boards ▶️ Fellowship Match ▶️ Fellowship ▶️ Chief Year ▶️ More Boards ▶️ Attendinghood?? 🎉
By the time your DrSpouse even gets to be an attending, you’re at least in your 30s and you feel YOUR peak career time is over. You might as well give up on your career, right!? 😫
Don’t give up!
And stop racing against a timeline that doesn’t exist!
Tony Robbins perfectly said:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in two or three decades.”
Be more patient and know that you got time. Look no further than these real examples to see that sometimes your best work comes later than you may expect:
- J.K. Rowling was a single mom on welfare and didn’t write Harry Potter until she was 31.
- Julia Child didn’t start cooking until age 38.
- Mary Kay sold books door-to-door until age 45. Her cosmetics empire didn’t take off until an age when most people would have retired.
- Ray Croc was a struggling salesman selling paper cups and milkshake makers. At age 55, he laid down the foundation that would eventually become McDonald’s.
On top of that, when your DrSpouse is finished with training, your new attending income is seed money that will provide help reach your goals. It can provide you tuition to go back to school, seed money for your new business or real estate properties, and so on.
So, take a deep breath and relax. You got time.
In The Meanwhile…
Don’t put aside all your goals completely. Use the 5-Hour Rule. It entails learning at least one hour a day (assuming weekdays only):
- If you’re an artist, pretend you have 10,000 bad drawings inside you and you have to get it out of you. (Practice!)
- If you want to start a new business, find mentors. (Network!)
- If you want to change fields, read all the knowledge you can. (Learn!)
One hour a day consistently is all it takes to build up incredible greatness.
Vincent Van Gogh said:
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
We are all in different seasons of life. Right now it’s incredibly hard as you are in medical training.
Even though you FEEL like you’re not successful because you have put aside your career for a few years to support your DrSpouse, the reality is that you are STILL successful.
You’ll move into the next season with grace, look back, and know you were exactly where you were supposed to be in life.
You got time.
You’ll catch up.
And you’ll do amazing.
Put your soul at ease and continue to raise your family and support your partner in white coat without guilt.
I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you, friend ❤️
To your strong medical family,
In what ways did you have to sacrifice for your DrSpouse?