I am a decisive planner. There’s no such thing as just a “plan b” around here. Everywhere in my life, I make lists “a” through “q”. I figure out what I need to make things happen. And then I do it. Full steam a head. Go go go. Planning keeps the anxiety to a minimum. Can’t be anxious if you have prepared for all eventualities.
Plans are easy.
Plans, you coordinate, you prepare and then you wait for the universe to decide what the outcome is going to be. Again, planning keeps the anxiety to a minimum. Can’t be anxious about plans if the outcome is beyond your control. Prepare and deal. Plan doesn’t work out? That’s okay, we have backup plans. Plans, I am okay with.
But making plans is not making decisions.
When I actually have to make decisions, I am riddled with paralyzing fear. You see, the outcome is now in my control. MINE. I am responsible. No matter what, (the planning, the lists, the cost-benefit analysis) I am convinced that I will make the wrong decision. I will regret this decision. It WILL be wrong. I have also realized over time, that this is especially true if the decision requires compromise. Which piece do I compromise on? If I need qualities a, b & c and a decision only provides a, b & d or a, c & e, which one do I choose? More to the point, WHY do I have to choose? Why can’t there just be an option a, b & c like I need?
This has huge repercussions in my life. I have had panic attacks in the middle of grocery stores over buying toothpaste. Seriously. What do I need? Sensitive? Whitening? Breath freshening? Colgate? Crest? What if the flavour is gross? What if it’s grainy and disgusting? What if it ruins all the enamel on my teeth and I have to get all my teeth pulled out in a massively painful full-mouth root canal festival?
I know. I know. It’s just toothpaste. The illogic of this situation is not lost on me- I’m not going to die. It’s 6$. If it’s that horrible, why don’t I just throw it away and buy a new one?
Because being the daughter/grand-daughter/great-grand-daughter of war and depression survivors, you don’t throw away a perfectly good 6 dollar tube of toothpaste because it “isn’t what you like”. You don’t waste. You suffer. You regret buying that stupid toothpaste for the next 8 months of your life, every single time you brush your teeth. You eat everything on your plate, even if you don’t like it, because if you don’t… it’s wasteful.
There is no sin greater than waste.
And yes, I know that this is illogical too and that guilt is a wasted emotion and blah blah blah, but it doesn’t help. When it comes to decisions, I am a hopeless mess.
A girlfriend once said I’m like this because it’s a Sagittarius trait- the feeling that there’s “always a better party somewhere else”. That sums it up perfectly… except backwards. I don’t think that there’s a better party somewhere else, I’m afraid that “I’ve picked the worst party and now I’m stuck with it, because I picked it and it’s my fault and well, now, I just have to live with it.”
Why all this rambling? CaRMS is particularly awful for someone like me. I sort of have to pick where/what I will be doing for the next 5 years. I put in a rank order list- a list of the schools/programs/cities that I would be willing to move to.
For me, the “what” (the program) is easy. I want to be an obstetrician/gynecologist. Easy. done. If someone told me that I had to move to St. John’s for the next 5 years to do Ob/Gyn, I’d be happy as a clam. Same for Hamilton. Or Ottawa. Or Edmonton. Or stay here in Regina. Or any of the 14 English speaking programs in Canada. They are all excellent programs. They are all a little the same and a little bit different from each other. Ultimately they are all graduating (a very important point- we all have to pass our Royal College exams at the end of the 5 years to be able to practice) excellent and competent physicians.
Deciding on the “where” is the hardest. Because all the programs are so very similar but a little bit different, it is so very hard to figure out where I would “best fit”. Everyone keeps saying “follow your heart” or “trust your gut”. Those are not helpful statements. I don’t know what I am going to need in 2 years time! I don’t know what my life is going to look like in 3.5 years! I couldn’t even imagine that this was going to be my life (ie. medicine) 5 years ago. 5 years ago, I was an unemployed highschool teacher who didn’t like particularly enjoy graduate school, and was drifting aimlessly and unhappily through life. Now, I’m a 31 year old, 2 months away from being a Dr. Everyday, I get to do what makes me happy every day- helping people, listening to people, educating, providing support, performing surgery, making life-changing decisions! Who saw that coming?! Not me!
Needless to say, even after deciding which school goes 1, then 2, then 3 etc… (which honestly came down to Mike submitting something 2 minutes before CaRMS closed while I hyperventilated and sobbed uncontrollably), I still have to partially hand over the power of this decision-making to a super computer in Ottawa that puts my rank-order-list against the lists that the schools made of us when we interviewed. Somehow through moonbeams and fairy dust they match us up and at 11am on Tuesday I’ll get a email that tells me what/where I’m going.
And that’s not even entertaining the notion that I might not match (which is a thing too awful to even contemplate here without spiralling into a vortex of panic and hair-eating).
Since I submitted my list 2 weeks ago, there’s been a lot of crying and panicking about wrong decisions. Everyday, I’m getting closer to acceptance, since there’s nothing more I can do about it but wait.
I’ve been coping by baking a lot. Mostly, I bake it, then I don’t want to eat it. Mike’s been taking it to work almost daily. His colleagues seem to be enjoying my panic, at least.
One recipe was good enough to stay home. These I actually enjoyed-
Gluten Free CaRMS bars (a variation of the hippie homemade granola bars my mum used to make)
3 c. GF Only Oats (I use 1 c. whole oats & 2 c quick oats)
1 c. puffed millet
1/2 c. flax
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. dried fruit (I used cranberries)
1/2 c. chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)
1 can low-fat sweetened condensed milk + 1 tbsp vanilla extract (you could use maple extract instead)
Mix well. Pat down well onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes @350, until golden brown
Use pizza cutter to cut into squares when still warm. I drizzled some melted dark chocolate that I had left over from dipping apricots a couple of weeks ago.
They won’t help you feel better about any sort of decision making, but they taste really good.