The difference between loving what you do for a living and doing it because you have to is, in my case, the energy level you have surrounding your work schedule.
When I love what I do, when I have a great day at work, I come home energized, ready to tackle something else. I want to write, organize, take care of personal tasks. I can get by on less sleep and hit the gym even if I’m tired.
If I feel that my day at work was draining, leaving me with no energy by the end of it then I just want to go home and zombie out. I will walk around sort of numb and avoid any mentally taxing activities. There is that air of irritability, the tight anal sphincter and the desire to do something unhealthy.
After all, I spent all day torturing my soul. My subconscious is in that mode, it will continue that process which means I will eat unhealthy, not go to the gym, go to bed late or sext someone I shouldn’t. I may wake up the next morning refreshed going “What the fuck was that?? Why did I Hoover 6 burgers last night??”
When our jobs become mundane, meaningless and cumbersome there is that initial human response of burning out… that’s probably what a lot of doctors experience. But, they have been bread and conditioned by society to persevere through any such experience, which they do. Their coping mechanism consist of self-destructive behavior, taking their negative energy out on patients, coworkers and family/friends.
The burnout phase is short and most docs are ‘tough’ enough to battle through it and jump right over to the coping mechanism dimension. It’s during this phase when that person is thought by loved ones to have ‘changed’. “Oh, Dr. Mo?… Yea, he used to be such a nice, calm and funny guy. Now he is a mean prick, dunno what happened.”
One can love the work they do at their job but do so much of it that physical and mental exhaustion still exert their deleterious effects on the person’s life. Too much of a good thing… right.
One’s job could be hard as fuck, but if the results one obtains or the self-gratification makes up for the hard work then it’s invigorating. As an example, residents fresh out are generally quite excited about the work they do as attendings. There is definitely the personal gratification but they are also challenging themselves, discovering new personal boundaries.
What many doctors don’t admit to achieving or sadly never achieve is mastery of their field. There are docs I know who are f-u-c-k-i-n-g brilliant. Some of them will say dumbass shit like ‘the more I learn the more I realize what I don’t know in medicine’. Fuck that. That’s some cop-out shit which they are using to manipulate their inner self to keep pushing through.
Once a person masters their field they either continue to have a ton of self-gratification because the work happens to resonate at the same frequency as their desires and motivations, or they realize that this glorious, high and mighty, unattainable and mysterious field of medicine is just another niche specialization that one achieves by putting in enough apprenticeship hours.
This last insight can be devastating, maybe even life shattering, depressing. Some aren’t willing to move on, their denial makes them develop a whole new relationship with their job. Like the abusive partner who the victim reveres, the doctor creates a lifestyle that makes them dependent on their profession.
Soon debt accumulates, their circle of friends become all doctors, or at least the well-to-do educated types. They buy cars and homes and send their kids to schools which only the ‘doctor-types’ would do. They are now bound by blood, sweat and tear to their profession. Sigh of relief! No more having to battle the urge to leave the profession.