Eyes wide. Heart racing. Mind swirling, equally pregnant with brilliant ideas and crippling fears. It is the day you have been looking forward to for a year and a half, but the day you have been dreading for 6 months.
Once a year, this scene gets reenacted in early June for those intrepid individuals stepping in to officially become chief residents. For 2012, this magical day occurred last Friday. I always enjoy stopping by the chiefs’ office on their first day, just to see how things are going. I like to bill it as being purely for their benefit, the seasoned veteran there to share a story and offer musty pearls of misguided wisdom. But to be honest a part of it is also for my benefit. That day is such a unique day in my life, like a dusty scrapbook, I can’t help but stop by and poke around the portal into my past.
It has been five years since I was dropped into the eye of the storm, but I still remember vividly my feelings from that first day. The first thing that comes to mind was how different the office became on that day. When I was a resident, I thought it seemed rather small and impersonal. I wan’t quite sure how it worked out as an actual office. Somehow, the moment I stepped through the door, the office was transformed into something bigger and better. Even though we had 5 or 6 people crammed in that space of the first few hours during the transition meeting, it still seemed to have grown by leaps and bounds. Was it because this was the first time the office felt like mine, like I belonged, like I was worthy? Possibly. What I know for sure is since that day, I have never looked at that office the same. It always seems big enough for whatever purpose is needed and it seems like home. The kind of place that always welcomes me back home and always makes me feel like I can do no wrong. Kind of like my own Room of Requirement.
My other memory of that day was coming into the office early, list in hand. I am not a list maker by nature. I have always preferred to just keep the items that needed to be done in my head. But when things get overwhelming, I tend to make lists so that I can keep myself from spinning out of control and bouncing randomly from task to task. Day one was plenty overwhelming, as evidenced by the gigantic list of things that needed to be done. I got to the office before anyone else and sat down and tried to get started.
The next thing I knew it somehow was 5pm and I had worked non-stop, only the list didn’t seem to get any shorter. In fact, it had gotten longer. I knew I had done stuff and wasn’t slacking off. Yet I had no idea where any of my effort and energy actually went. I certainly didn’t seem to have anything to show for it. Excited that I survived the first day, but dejected that I didn’t seem to get anything done, I resolved to come in early again the next day. Which I did. My goal eventually became to try to be not only the first chief, but the first person in the education group to get there. Little did I realize how early some of the staff get to the office!
Unfortunately, just as trying to beat the rush to the office in the morning became a daily routine, so did leaving at the end of the day feeling like I hadn’t actually gotten anything done. It was befuddling. I was there! I was awake! I knew that stuff happened, only by the end of the day, I wasn’t exactly sure what that was and whether it had been worth it. It was like it was Groundhog’s Day and I was Bill Murray.
At some point, like all chief residents, that list actually does get whittled down. And you do start having some small victories. Then all of a sudden, it is September and you really feel like you are starting to know what you are doing and this whole thing might actually work out the way you planned it. Of course, you blink again and it is late May and you once again wonder where all of your effort and energy went. You are pretty sure it was all worth it, but somewhere deep down inside, you just aren’t quite sure that everything worked out the way it was supposed to. And then all of a sudden you see them. Standing at your door.
Eyes wide. Heart racing. Mind swirling, equally pregnant with brilliant ideas and crippling fears. The day that has been looked forward to for a year and a half, but the day dreaded for 6 months. The eye of the storm makes room for three more.