It was the first time I quit anything.
After rehearsing, worrying and praying, I took a few deep breaths, walked into my partner’s office and informed him that I would be leaving the group.
Confrontation makes my skin crawl. Disappointing others weighs heavy on my heart. But the build up, the anxiety preceding, that was much worse than the actual delivery.
Why is quitting so hard? I think it is because there is a sense of failure, a feeling of not being strong enough, a fear of judgement that comes with walking away.
As a woman and a new mom, I truly feared being the stereotype. I feared people going behind my back saying, “This is why we shouldn’t hire women.” I worried I would be making it harder for other women to succeed in my group. I worried I would be thought of as weak, selfish, lazy. I worried about the backlash, disappointing those who had invested in me, leaving my patients in the hands of others.
I never questioned whether leaving would be good for me, my family or even my career. This was obvious - my family needed me at home more. I knew my dreams were too big to be contained by the walls of the clinic where I worked. I knew I could not be the kind of mom who could miss out on her babies for the sake of work. Knowing and feeling this, I still put it off, thinking maybe, just maybe, I could make it work.
Medicine trains us to put ourselves, our families, our health, last so the idea of choosing those things over work was uncomfortable. As a young mother and wife as well as a new attending, reorganizing my conflicting priorities was challenging.
Change takes a lot of courage even if the status quo is less than your dream.
After I finally gave notice, I realized that my anxiety about quitting was completely driven by a fixation on external disapproval. External forces can be motivating and destructive and I was walking the tightrope between the two.
A few weeks on the other side has given me clarity. The new vitality in my home is palpable. My sense of purpose for my career is exploding. I am creative, healthy, happy, organized, focused. I’m the person I wanted to be when I was spread too thin to breathe. Self-doubt has been replaced with self-compassion. I cannot believe how much has changed in a short few weeks. I realize that I am the center of my life, nobody else. Nobody matters more.
Even the external disapproval part was a farce. In fact, I’ve had numerous other physicians, professionals and patients reach out to me completely unsolicited, applauding me for upholding my own truth. Everybody, to my surprise, gets it. I cannot help but laugh at the irony of everyone understanding just as soon as their judgement no longer matters to me.
This experience showed me that my gut instinct is strong. I learned that if I determine my truths through deep introspection, others will come around, and if they do not, that is okay, too. My value comes from within so the more I value myself, the more value I can spread. Only when my cup is full, do I have enough to overflow to others. I have so much more to give now.
Quitting is such a diminutive word. It implies defeat. It implies weakness. It implies being less than enough.
I see now, this was absolutely the opposite. That dreaded meeting was not quitting, it was the commencement of a bigger, better, bolder empowered life.
Arti Thangudu, MD is an endocrinologist and a 2018–2019 Doximity Author. She specializes in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism and is a mom of two beautiful kiddos under three! She has started her own lifestyle and preventative medicine clinic called Complete Medicine in San Antonio. She has also contributed to Medscape and KevinMD. Outside of work, Dr. Thangudu enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two children.
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