I have always been a very driven and goal-oriented person. As such, it never occurred to me to take a break from school at any point, as I knew that I had a long road to reach my ultimate goal of being a physician. And until I met my husband, the plan was to just bust straight through, with no gaps, and be done with school by 26. That plan changed once we got to a point in our relationship where we knew we were going to get married. At this point we had a decision to make: I could either go ahead and start medical school, thus making us have a long-distance relationship for a year, or I could put off school for a year and we could get married and live together while he finished up his last year of college. After a few months of discussing it with family and friends, we decided to go ahead and get married, and I would put off medical school for a year.
After a month of job searching, I had a couple interviews lined up as either a customer service and collections agent for Washington Regional Medical Center, or as a front desk worker at a bakery up in the Rogers area. The Washington Regional position was first, and I ended up getting the job just a couple days after the interview. Seeing as that job was just down the street from where I lived, I decided to go with that.
Never in my life did I think I would get a job as a collections representative for a hospital. It was just not something on my radar. Everything I’d heard about the area was not positive, and sounded a little depressing. Even when I told people what my job was, they would always respond with “I’m sorry”.
However, I was determined to like my job and appreciate the learning opportunities and skills it would give me. I did end up loving my time as a collections representative, as I had some pretty great co-workers that kept the day entertaining and interesting between phone calls. I also learned a whole lot about insurance and the business of medicine in general that I really didn’t know much about.
My gap year wasn’t entirely consumed by work though. I was also able to continue my dancing career for one more year, which I was incredibly grateful for. It allowed me to achieve two more of my personal dance goals, and I grew very close to my teammates that I went on to earn a world medal with. (See “Irish Dance: A Review” for more details about this past year)
The biggest change that I went through over this past year was simply a mindset change. College is such a weird academic bubble, where I was surrounded by a bunch of career-driven women who are my best friends, and they all took off to do amazing things, while I got married and stayed in town while my husband finished up his schooling. I suddenly had left the world of single women and had landed amongst women who were wives and mothers, working to support their family, or getting ready to start a family. This stark shift in focus from career to family was more jarring than I expected it to be, and it caused me to start to doubt myself in areas I had never thought about.
When I was in college, the fact that David and I were planning to wait almost eight years into marriage to start a family seemed totally reasonable and just the way it had to be for us, as I would be too busy with school and residency to really make us comfortable with starting a family. However, when I left that atmosphere, I was in a Sunday School class where seven babies were born over the course of less than a year, and I worked with moms who had kids fairly young, and I was surrounded by extended family members having kids. As such, these fears started creeping in that I was being selfish for making us wait to have kids, and that I was depriving us of this joy that was so evident in these new moms.
Just to be clear, no one around me was saying anything to make me feel like I had to have a child. This was all happening in my own head. It took a full four hour car ride home from visiting family at the holidays for me to come to the realization that it didn’t matter what I thought or planned, and it certainly didn’t matter what other people thought about David’s and my marriage and how long we wait to have children. Ultimately it’s God’s decision when we are able to start having a family, and no paranoia or self-judgement on my part are going to do anything to change that.
Overall, the past year has been an amazing break from the rigors of academia, but I am very excited to get back into the classroom and finish the task that I started working towards way back in highschool. I will make sure to keep you all updated as I go through all the challenges and exciting moments and medical school! Thanks for reading!