“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Allan K. Chalmers
Boredom, Isolation, and Loneliness of FIRING During a Global Pandemic:
In August 2019, we moved to Gainesville, Florida, to give our boys a more rural upbringing, etc. In early 2020, we sensed possible danger on the horizon and quickly moved up our home purchasing plan. So we looked at the sparse real estate inventory and bought a house.
Just as we settled in, COVID-19 hit. We hunkered down, self-isolating because my husband’s a front-line doc. We didn’t want to unknowingly spread Covid.
Never before had I felt this socially isolated. We were in a new city with a tiny support network. For a social introvert like myself, the extreme social deprivation due to self-isolating was beyond tough. I was going stir-crazy and desperately craved human interaction.
‘Living the dream’ of FIRE isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even with our hands full with young kids, quasi-retirement turned out to be boring during our period of prolonged self-isolation.
Only with this realization did I understand why some actual older retired folks without hobbies or many friends are bored out of their minds. (Though, in retrospect, I realize maybe they’re not self-aware enough to understand that what they’re doing is acting out their boredom…).
It was only after I made the excruciating decision to return to work that I realized I yearned to be back with my doctor community. They were in the trenches and I wasn’t.
Why would a FIRE doctor who came out of retirement to work during a global pandemic want to continue working once it’s over?
Glad you asked. 😉
The first two blogs of this three-part series were the most emotionally difficult blogs I’ve written to date. Thankfully, this third blog was much easier to write since I have so many reasons why I want to stay in the medical workforce:
This 3 part blog series explores the experiences and thoughts for the physician FIRE community on why I left FIRE to return to work due to Covid. (FIRE=Financial Independence Retire Early/Recreational Employment)
In the first blog, I wrote about the difficult decision to come out of early retirement as a Hospice and Palliative Care physician to work on the front lines during a global pandemic. This 2nd blog post details what that return felt like and what I found when I went back into the hospital.
Difficult Decisions at the Start of a Global Pandemic:
I want to share with the physician FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early/Recreational Employment) community what my thinking was to leave FIRE and return to work.
In 2019, I resigned from the VA when we moved to Medellín, Colombia, for the summer. After we got somewhat settled in Gainesville in August of 2019, I half-heartedly applied for a part-time position at a local hospice.
But after exploring it, I sensed it was a chaotic work environment and knew my heart wouldn’t be in the job. For that reason, I ended up turning the position as a Hospice and Palliative Care physician down.
I intended to let my medical license lapse while I walked away from medicine completely. One thing made me renew my license, though. Now, this next bit sounds a little woo-woo, but in the interest of authenticity, I’m going to tell you.
“It is unlikely that your actual path through life will match the exact journey you had in mind when you set out. It makes no sense to restrict your satisfaction to one scenario when there are many paths to success.” – Atomic Habits
This post may sound a bit tone-deaf in our current climate, as it explores physicians leaving clinical medicine. However, this blog was written last fall and is only now seeing publication as I have a one week break in my regular (fiction) writing schedule. And judging by the eye-popping number of “I quit” posts from doctors that I’ve seen recently in my Facebook feed—as well as reading a thought-provoking blog by a pharmacist who’s taking a COVID Sabbatical—I decided to go ahead and publish this post.
If any blog is to get me hate mail, this is the one—though hopefully it’s been edited enough by my Dragon Lady that the sharp edges no longer remain in this piece.
If something I write here hits a little too close to home—rather than stopping reading—why don’t you finish the blog and sit quietly for a bit to think about why you don’t like this particular blog? I’m hoping by doing this, it will help make you a happier person in the long run.
“We’re in this stage of life where we’re supposed to have flexible time because we’re raising children, yet none of us have this time we need because we’re all working. It doesn’t make sense.”
One of my friends from Germany recently wrote this to me in an email and I agree wholeheartedly with him. So many of us are doing life backwards : having kids and working full time, but after the kids move out, then we retire or change to working part-time.
Stop and think about the organization you work for. Do the marching orders from above make workers on the front lines take responsibility for bad outcomes—while the profits are reaped by upper management—all while the higher ups have little, if anything, at risk?
Are middle managers where you work borderline incompetent?