I will be finishing medical school soon- in about 5 weeks. Becoming a “real” doctor still seems so far away, but thinking about it now sounds so much more reasonable. Being a “real” doctor means that I will have a “real” income, and despite all of the healthcare reform talk and worry that is tearing up the medical community, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be doing just fine as a surgeon. As such, I’ve been spending a lot of time dreaming about things that I would want, all the places I’d want to travel, all the awesome gear I will buy…
In the midst of dreaming about all of this, I always feel a little guilty. I have really been blessed in this life. When I think about all the people in this world that don’t even have a place to live or food to eat, I think that it’s ridiculous that I am willing to spend thousands of dollars to see this place. Or have some experience. Or to own this thing. Once upon a time, I was determined to be poor. Even though I left high school a cynic, compared to my elders in the medical field I was still a bright-eyed idealistic dreamer: I was going to become a primary care doc; I was going to help the underserved; I was going to live simply and I was going to change the world- one patient at a time. And then I discovered that I hate primary care. Primary care is this disaster of paperwork with still very little follow-up, and yes- very little pay. I thought that I would be okay with suffering through college and medical school for a primary care salary. I thought that my student loans wouldn’t be a burden. That all is probably still all true, but I can’t imagine myself suffering every day for the rest of my life in a profession that drives me MAD. Kudos to all the primary care docs out there- I couldn’t do what you all do every day.
But all the same, with the idea of an income- even a resident’s salary- I can’t stop wanting things. Maybe I don’t have the most extravagant taste, but it seems to make more sense to just pay retail to save time or to take amazing vacations because I wasn’t able to afford it before. It seriously rattles the strict Asian frugality I was brought up with, but also makes me feel guilty in an I’m-a-super-consumeristic-American sort of way.
I guess it’s pointless to worry about how I am going to spend my money when I’m still ridiculously poor, can’t afford to make full payments on my student loans, and might not even be able to get a loan for a place in Utah. But I’m hoping that some advance planning and perhaps retrospection will help me spend it wisely. But I can’t stop looking! There are SO many ways to spend money. Ah, America. I am a product of your hedonistic values.