If It’s Monday this must be Lucea

You might be wondering where I’ve been and what the hell I’ve been up to. I’ve been wondering that myself. My absence from this space hasn’t so much been a lack of things to talk about as feelings of uncertainty “am I allowed to talk about that?”. I will say that the confidential nature of my job isn’t exactly conducive to a personal blog, especially when most of the things I want to talk about are not always ‘fitting’ for ‘doctors’ to talk about, and I feel like my insignificant opinions carry more weight now. Self-censorship is hard to get over.

But I’m back. Because I feel as if I will burst if I do not write or yell something into the void. More catharsis than infomercial, this writing for me is therapeutic and I ask that you allow me the space to untangle my wrapped-up tied-up experiences.

My life these days is a delicate balance of work and school and relationships. Adulthood has a lot to do with balance, and I tend to measure my success as an adult by how well or how poorly I keep all these balls in the air. (Spoiler alert: I do not juggle well).

Moving up the career ladder from Senior House Officer to Medical Officer came with a new batch of responsibilities. This might seem logical to you, but I was wholly unprepared for later working hours, deadlines, reports and programme coordination; getting a new clinic off the ground, meetings with international stakeholders and the subsuming world of regional politics. It’s more than a mouthful, but it’s work that I’m excited about: making an impact on patients’ lives, experiencing infrastructural issues firsthand, being in a position to effect change, however minimal. I feel like I’m laying the foundations for the rest of my career so even though the building blocks might be heavy this groundwork will pave the way for something glorious. I hope.

In the same breath, I have been lucky enough to get a scholarship for an online Diploma programme taught by UWI St. Augustine. It’s a year long programme in the Clinical Management of HIV (an area I have grown very attached to) and I am in month two. I am discovering never before seen time management skills. They’re still new, like a foal on wobbly legs, but I haven’t missed a deadline yet which means progress. Yay, personal growth.

But like any of those ‘pick two’ triangles, one side just can’t seem to fit in with the rest.

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My grandmother likes to complain about, among other things, the way I seem to be too busy to spend time with her. To my credit as a granddaughter I only screen about 10% of her calls and I see her almost weekly but I’ve noticed that parents and grandparents get more sentimental as they get older. I also missed my best friend’s birthday because I forgot to account for time zone differences and I haven’t seen my other close friend in months because of our crazy schedules (she’s a new mom and I work in a different parish). The point is that balance gets harder as you get older, and if like me you didn’t have much practice before it will take a lot of stretching to get it right.

I’m not including moving house and furnishing a new apartment, keeping my cat happy, maintaining a healthy relationship with my partner, trying not to kill the houseplants or my second and third jobs in the hospital and elsewhere because that’s another mouthful. It gets stressful and frustrating and I’m constantly questioning whether I’m making the right choices. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially with all the background noise of the rest of the country and the wider world. Violence, bullying and bigotry seem to be run of the mill these days but I still have to follow through on the paths I choose to tread.

Of course there are times when I drop the ball, when I miss the mark for perfect daughter/partner/colleague, times when I have to say no for my sanity instead of saying yes for a million other reasons and the negative self-talk threatens to drown me in tears. But I am learning that adulthood, at least for me, means walking on these wobbly legs until I’m strong enough to gallop in the direction of my dreams.

 

It Begins with a Single Step

Cheryl Strayed (Sugar from The Rumpus.net) has a story about a dress her mother bought for the granddaughter she would never meet. It’s a lovely story about continuity and the mysterious, unknowable ways the universe unfolds and she tells it with characteristic grace and gravity in Tiny Beautiful Things (more on this book later). My story is kind of like that. But without cute little girls in red dresses.

I almost didn’t listen to myself when I wanted to meet some of my far-flung family. I was in the right place, with just enough of the right time left to do it, but I was holding myself back with what-ifs and fears of rejection. They didn’t know me, at all. At best they would have some vague recollection of my grandmother spending time with them when she was about my age. Eons ago. I was banking on family resemblance and the intrinsic niceness of people, not something I was fond of banking on (the niceness; my family resemblance is sort of legendary).

I wouldn’t have done it at all if not for Kat who talked me into listening to my gut and doing what I obviously wanted to do and it won’t kill you to try so just go and I’ll hold your hand if you get nervous. For once my gut had someone on its side.

I didn’t expect to get anything out of meeting my family – I just wanted to know who they were and open my life up to any new experiences they could teach me. I didn’t know I would have to find somewhere to stay in May Pen eventually, but when I decided to come here for three weeks and it turned out that the school wasn’t going to put me up it was really amazing to have someone to ask. I wouldn’t have been able to ask if I hadn’t built some sort of relationship first. I put effort in with no idea what the results could be. I didn’t even know if these people would like me! Turn out they’re too much like me not to like me.

Sometimes we don’t know which road is the right one when we’re facing a fork. Sometimes there are too many options that look right and we can’t see to the end of each road to figure out if that’s where we need to end up. Sometimes we have to trust out gut to make the right steps based on what we want for ourselves and hope that all the little ‘right’ decisions will lead us to the place we ultimately want to be.