If you've been reading this blog or following along on instagram for a while, you've probably gotten the hint that I'm quite an optimist. Don't get me wrong, I definitely let my fair share of trivial things get to me (ask Beau about the time that I accidentally kicked his roommate's dog while playing fetch and LOST IT over the fact that that must mean that I'd be a horrible mother one day). I guess what I mean is this: when I'm going through really hard things, I do such a good job of convincing myself that everything is fine that I become completely unaware of reality.
Sure, this is probably helpful in terms of coping ("Everything's fine! We're having fun! Look over there!"), but as I've gotten older, I'm understanding the importance of sitting in those hard moments and waiting to understand what I should be learning from them.
Quite a lead-in for a post about Match Day, isn't it? :)
But I think it's more than appropriate because the months leading up to Match Day were enough to reduce this forever-optimist to a complete mess of emotions. And if you're reading this right now and anticipating the big day tomorrow, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.
It's such a strange feeling to have ZERO control over such a huge life decision. It's hard to come to terms with the fact that you'll be leaving people that you love, a perfect job, a place that you've come to call home, all at the mercy of a magical computer system that tells you where you're contractually bound to move. Not to mention the fact that everything I heard about residency at that point was complete doom and gloom.
Here are some of the fears that kept me up at night:
"I'm going to be forced to leave a place that I love to be all alone on the other side of the country while Beau works all the time"
"What if we end up somewhere we hate?"
"What if we never find 'our people' there"?
"I'm ALWAYS going to be sacrificing for Beau. When will a big decision ever be made based on my desires/career aspirations?"
Among many, many more. And these thoughts were constantly on my mind...from the moment we left our last residency interview all the way up until the week of the Match.
Looking back, this was one of those rare times that I allowed myself to really feel the emotions that I was having. And as hard as that was for someone like me, I'm grateful for it. Because it taught me how to work through a difficult season in a way that didn't involve avoiding the hard stuff or distracting myself with shiny things.
So how did I work through it? Honestly, I prayed about it a lot.
If you're not a spiritual person, please know that this isn't me saying that it's the only solution, it's just the approach that I took. But I do think there's some wisdom in this, so just hear me out. :)
I'm a person who loves to be in control. I love the fact that I have my s*** together. So yeah, it's no surprise that taking away every ounce of control brought me to a place of complete desperation. A desperation deep enough that it reminded me of the importance of surrendering to something greater than myself. Recognizing my lack of control, I began to ask God that I would trust him again. That I would find peace in knowing that we would end up where we should. That there would be something for me wherever we ended up, a purpose for me that he had designed and would see through.
Do you think I'm a crazy person yet? As you can tell by all of my asides, I'm typically not very comfortable talking about my faith publicly. I don't like how the media portrays Christians and if I'm totally honest with you, I haven't felt very proud to call myself one lately. But I just cannot deny how transformative this season of prayer was for me.
I slowly began to feel peace. I began to trust that we'd be okay. I realized that I didn't have to be a victim waiting for a Match Day sentence. Instead, I had control over how I could respond to the situation. I began to see the positive, the opportunities for us to grow closer as a couple, and if you can believe it, I actually got to a place where I was excited about Match Day.
The day of the Match, a bunch of our friends had brunch together and then nervously walked/ran over to the Medical Education Building for the ceremony. We were sitting next to some of our very best friends, who had the same #1 choice as we did — OHSU in Portland. With only 12 spots in the program, we had been holding onto a sinking feeling that only one of us would get matched there. They were couples matching, so there was just no way that a program would take three kids from UVA to fill only 12 spots.
The time came to open our envelopes and I swear, I feel like I blacked out. There were a few seconds of silence, filled only by the sound of 150 students quickly ripping into their envelopes. And then came the screams. :)
Beau tore into his envelope and, eyes scanning the page, we were elated to find that we had gotten a spot at OHSU! But that excitement quickly transitioned to regret, because we assumed that that had meant that dear friends sitting next to us didn't get spots there too. Little did I know, they were sitting next to us thinking the exact same thing(!!!).
Yep, we freaking matched with our best friends. As soon as we realized this, I unleashed the since patented "yell cry". And it sounded like exactly what you are imagining (but probably even more shrill and hysterical). It was, in all honestly, probably the most emotional moment of my life to date. Such a release of all the worry, fear and anxiety that I had been carrying with me over the past few months. I will never, ever forget it.
I hesitated to tell our personal story because it definitely won't represent everyone's story. Not everyone will get their first choice (or even second). Not everyone will know someone who matched into the same program. We had friends who were thrilled at their results, friends who were shocked but still optimistic, friends who were really disappointed. But I'm NOT lying when I say to you that each and every one of our friends, now almost three years into residency, is happy where they ended up.
So, as a partner leading into tomorrow, here's my advice. Be supportive. Try not to make it about you. Celebrate your partner and how far they've come in their career...this is a HUGE moment for them. If you don't get your first choice, remain optimistic and do your best to encourage. Trust that you're going to end up where you're supposed to end up. That there's something there for BOTH of you and that you can find joy if you look for it.
Oh, and enjoy the heck out of it. Our Match Day party was somethin' else. :)
I'll be thinking of y'all tomorrow (especially my brother, Ryan, and his fiance, Cardin!). Please leave me a comment on instagram and let me know where you matched...I'd love to celebrate with you!
Love & Respect,