Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bye Bye PA School...Forever

I know this post is months past due, but I think it's time.

When I withdrew from PA school I was a broken person. I had just spent the last few months pouring myself into a profession that made me question everything about myself. I did not fit in from the moment I walked out of the parking garage. I found myself surrounded by dozens of wildly intelligent, beautiful women. They knew exactly what they wanted in life. They had been out in the working world and knew that they wanted more. They were career women. It's a gift to be motivated to succeed in one's profession, but it's not my gift. I am much more concerned with succeeding at being a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, an aunt, a friend and someday a wife and a mother. I am more concerned with being a human being.

I could feel myself being called in a different direction, but I didn't want to let anyone down. I knew I wanted to help people, but at what cost? In my physician assistant program I watched relationships end and families deteriorate. We were asked to give up our lives for the next two years and focus only on learning. Family was not to be a priority. Friendships were to be put on hold. The majority of the women around me broke up with their boyfriends in the first few weeks of school (or their boyfriends broke up with them). I remember my classmate calling her good friend to tell her she couldn't make her wedding because it was just too much time out of her schedule, and I remember thinking "It's her freakin wedding! How could you miss that?" Even our lunch break was a time to continue studying, and socializing was frowned upon. I was twenty two years old and being asked to lock my true self inside and not let her out again until I was twenty four.

I remember looking at my professors, all talented PA's, but most were single PA's. Most did not have families to go home to, or children to run around. That was the decision they had made. They were good at what they did, and they put so much effort into keeping up with all the knowledge they were responsible for, but that didn't leave them much time for anything or anyone else. I got a sick feeling in my stomach every time I thought about it.

In the classroom I was confronted with issues that went against my morals. We were constantly being told that it was our responsibility to push contraceptives onto young girls, and recommend birth control at every chance we got. Natural family planning was mocked incessantly, and I found myself dreading going to class. I was told not to ever bring my personal beliefs or opinions to work because I was not to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I was instructed to adapt the beliefs of any patient I might encounter for the time that I was with them. My values were not important and I should consider them dispensable.

Every thing inside me began to revolt against PA school. It felt as if God was trying so hard to pull me away from it and point me in a different direction. The longer I fought it, the more I fell apart. I was dying inside. It became hard for me to laugh and hard for me to enjoy being around the people I loved because I felt guilty about not studying. I remember bringing my baseball glove over to my grandparent's house one Sunday night toward the end of summer. My cousin Jake just looked at me and said, "Oh I stopped bringing mine because you are always studying and you never want to play with me anymore." Playing catch used to be our thing, and I had let him down the point he had given up on me. PA school had convinced me I didn't have 15 minutes to play catch with an eleven year old who looked up to me. I no longer knew myself, and became angry with the person I was becoming.

It began to be very clear that I needed to get out. I was met with opposition from just about everyone. I was caught between the fear of letting everyone down and the fear of losing myself. In the end, I had to take a chance on the former. I quit, and every day since then I have come alive again little by little. I have not once regretted leaving. Not once. I feel happy again. I'm working as an athletic trainer, which I never thought would bring much meaning to my life, but I was wrong. I work in a catholic hospital, where I can share my faith with my patients. I can go to adoration during my break because there's a chapel right down the hall with perpetual adoration. I work mostly with elderly patients, and I return to them a quality of life they haven't known in years. I help people walk again. I have a patient that came to me in a wheel chair and was so weak he couldn't lift himself out of it. He now can walk laps around the room, using only a cane. And we're just getting started. One of my former patients showed up last week to give me a gift because she felt I had touched her life that much. I've made a seventy year old man cry because he was just so grateful to have someone listen to him and his troubles week after week. I find myself spreading my faith and doing God's will in a profession that I had been told was not good enough for me. Those people were wrong. It puts such a smile on my face when a patient takes me out to the waiting room so they can introduce me to their family. "This is my torturer Bridget!"

I know that right now I am far from my family, but I won't be far forever. I know I started with talking about how I want to be a good daughter/sister/cousin/etc and that moving 400 miles away from my family might seem contradictory, but everything happens for a reason. I love my family just as much from here, and I care about everything that happens in their lives just as much, and even more. Right now I feel like I'm exactly where I'm called to be, doing exactly what I'm called to do...for now.

I hope that puts your mind at ease, and you'll stop referring to me as though I were some poor lost child, not knowing what she's doing. For the first time in a long time, I know exactly what I'm doing.


Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you Bridget. I think that the only time I ever saw you look really lost was when you were in PA school. Everything DOES happen for a reason. I love you so much Bridgey :) WE love you so much :)

So you feel a little bit better now that you have gotten this off your chest....maybe a little...huh? Huh?

unclenom1979 said...

i have an awesome sister-in-law. She has taught me and inspired me in this short amount of time that I have known her. You are the true meaning of "Blessed by God". You have a special talent to discern what God is trying to tell you. These are all things that I strive for every day. Bridget, keep up the good work, keep helping those patients, know that you are making a difference in their lives. You may be 400 miles away, but you are only a phone call away from the chaos known as your family. WE ALL LOVE YOU!!!

God bless you Bridet,


Anonymous said...

Aww, Bridg--Welcome Home.

Love, Aunt Lori (Who rarely needs a reason to cry, but was given a good one this morning by you. :) )

Rob said...

Just a little tear in my eye. The B-Queen has such a way with words!!

Growing up knocks you around a lot, and you're all the stronger for it!

pilgrimchick said...

Very simply stated:

Well done.

Life only becomes boring and habitual when you settle in for the "safe" and ignore the true elements of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Amazing, amazing post Bridget. You are such a light in so many people's lives, especially now after you broke away from what had been making you so unhappy. I look up to you more than you'll ever know! Continue to follow the path God has set for you :)


Anonymous said...

Wow! I finally caught up with your blog. I got my good cry for the day.
You are a truly amazing woman. And Jake still looks up to you, as many do.
Aunt Maggie