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The Energy Your Job Gives You – Or Takes Away

The Easy Job That’s Draining

I fucking hated school back when I was a teenager.

Not in a depressed sort of way but more as in I couldn’t stand being there, knew it was a necessary evil and couldn’t wait to get the fuck out and have the rest of the day to myself.

I would go home after a school day and go play in the yard, or play video games or hang out with friends. I was energized, I was excited to be out and about and would expend as much energy as possible up until the time I had to be home.

I disliked college but loved hanging out with new friends.

I’d go attend the mandatory shitty classes and would skip whatever I could, do my studying and then go lift weights in the gym, play basketball, wrestle or whatever dumbass stuff that I liked doing at that age.

Med school just sucked ass, period.

I didn’t really wanna do anything, it was depressing, so it didn’t matter when I was done with it. I lifted weights most of the time, and once I got too depressed to do that then I just vegged.

Residency was easy.

Holy shit was residency easy.

I couldn’t wait to get my medical license to moonlight.

I remember, October of my second year 2007, I got my license in the mail. I called up my senior residents and asked for moonlighting gigs, they hooked me up and that same month I was moonlighting.

My first gig was an overnighter in a high acuity urgent care which was basically an ED. I got a signout for a GI bleed who I had to babysit until the morning unless he started going south. There was some urgent care nerd there who was all about UC and was telling me about making UC its own fellowship, whatever! Fucking dork.

I was so energized that night, I was floating,

I felt amazing. That was my high, my crack. It kept moonlighting after that, picking up shifts in urgent cares and clinics all over the Los Angeles area. Seriously, first time I felt alive since beginning of med school.

Then I took a full-time gig in San Diego towards the end of my residency.

I hit the ground running, I was loving the work and the pace was decent, not as fast as I liked but good. I never meshed well with the doctor types so I became friends with all the nurses. All Filipinas, bossiest goddamn women on the planet, but shit, they knew how to run the show. We’d hang out after work, they’d dump all the hard patients on me so I could churn them out. We would talk shit the entire shift, laugh and have a blast.

I would finish work at 10pm and still squeeze in a good 30 minutes at the gym before they closed.

I would do 14 hour shifts back to back, picking up shifts in primary care, peds, urgent care and occ med. I loved the work, it was easy for me, I was learning new things and the camaraderie with the staff was palpable.

Soon though, I started getting bored, not burnt out, but bored. I was lifting in the gym, dating, racing my 1971 Maverick.

I decided I would open my auto mechanic shop. It wasn’t just for the money but to change things up a little as well. Starting the shop was a great move. I was racing even more than before.

Work suddenly became easy again. The boredom surrounding it disappeared or got muted at the very least.

I would get into the shop at 8am, work on cars, run the business side and clean up with a good degreaser, change into scrubs and run into work for a 10-hour shift. The weekends I wasn’t working I was driving out to races in Phoenix, Bakersfield, Fontana and SD.

I had an insane amount of energy.

I got married and divorced 8 months later.

Sold the shop and slowly started getting down, not clinically depressed but just fucking blah. No more going to the gym, just putting in my dues at work and picking up extra shifts whenever I could muster up the energy.

I finally moved after I realized that there wasn’t much left for me in San Diego. I sold my car to my good friend, I sold my mechanic shop as well. Portland was gonna be my new destination. It was a great choice, really good-vibe city with plenty to do.

But even in a new city I wasn’t excited to get home anymore after my shifts.

I wasn’t energized practicing medicine. That drive of getting up at 7, hauling ass to the shop, turning wrenches and rushing off to see patients had fizzled away.

I would get up in the morning, think about work all day, dread going in, then come home and get my Netf(l)ix. Maybe the work had gotten mundane, maybe I wasn’t challenged anymore.

I am speaking in the past tense but this is where I’m at right now, Portland, Oregon, doing urgent care. Medicine is easier than it’s ever been for me. The patients are so much nicer here than in SoCal and they are so much fucking healthier.

My coworkers are friendly and down to earth.

I think the passion for my work is just gone. I’ve tried taking on leadership roles, taking on pet projects, working less, working more… it’s no longer motivating.

Oh yea, let’s see, what the fuck is this post about? It’s about being energized by what we do, who we’re around and where we are.

It says something when your easy job drains you of every bit of energy you have. Of course this is merely a perspective.

In reality my energy level remains unchanged. What’s true is that I am not energized, motivated, or inspired.

So this post is about trying to pursue something that motivates us, energizes us and inspires us. Doing something which fits that description will make us happier and languishing in something that drains us of the above will probably depress the fuck out of those around us, including our souls.

It’s not supposed to be a depressing post but maybe you should take that Prozac anyway after reading this.

I’m actually glad that I figured out why I feel the way I do most of the time. It’s not that I dislike medicine. It’s that practicing it is no longer my passion. Nor am I challenged by it any longer.

Keeping focused while at work, putting on a smile when there ain’t much to smile about, dispensing meds that people don’t need, ordering labs and imaging to protect my ass in court which serve no other purpose is all chipping away at my soul’s energy every day.

By the end of my 7-day run I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself. Thankfully I can regenerate it after a few days of detoxing from my job.

Not to sound too dramatic but I definitely believe there is a point of no return… once there is nothing else to drain then you don’t feel nothing no more and with it goes the drive to change your circumstance, to pursue that passion you once had.

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