Woman inside studying on a laptop with books and a stethoscope. She looks longingly at a couple of people frolicking in the grass on a sunny day. She's experiencing FOMO.

FOMO (Feeling of Missing Out)

I have been feeling stuck and out of place a lot lately. There’s this saying about how your 20s are this whirlwind of self-discovery and trial and error. Wow, they were not kidding.

I thought I was taking a pretty safe bet when I chose to do this medicine thing way back. It meant my life would be planned out through my 30s at least. But now, here I am 24 going on 25, feeling incredibly uncertain if I’ve thrown away my 20s for the right reasons are not.


I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 12 years old and I’ve done everything up to now to reach that goal. And now, here I am nearing the end of my third year in medical school, unsure if I want to push forward. Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course, I want the medical degree I’ve sacrificed years of my life and so much debt to. I’m just not sure if I actually want the job description.

And yes, I know I would make an incredible physician and truly provide the best care to all my future patients. I know I would change the world for sickle cell. But, I’m learning that medicine is a business focused on profit more than equity. Physicians do more documenting and arguing with insurance than they do actual patient care.

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Of course, yes I know this isn’t the case for all of medicine and that I could be the difference. But how much can one tread against the current before drowning? The water is already at neck level and I don't even know how to swim; I’m certain I cannot take much more.

I knew this path would be challenging but I never imagined all the ways in which it would demand so much of me. I have taken losses in my health – mental and physical – sleep, finances, and relationships. I’m sure it all pays off 10 or so years down the road, but as I realize how much more I’ll have to sacrifice until then, I’m not so sure it’s worth it.

Missing out because of sickle cell

I watch my friends who are out of school and already in their careers take vacations across the world, get married, and have children. Those are all the things I want. It’s like major FOMO on a regular basis. And sure, my medical peers are doing some of those things too but not on the same scale or time period. Then there’s the added burden of having sickle cell pain or fatigue unpredictably interrupting anything fun I could partake in. I'm always missing major events due to illness, or fatigue from illness.

When I think about how much less predictable my life is simply because of sickle cell and the things that are most important to me in living my life fully, I’m not sure medicine lines up anymore. And yes, I’ve met doctors who love their jobs and their lives, and it’s obvious they do! But it took them decades, past medical training, to get to that point to be able to enjoy their lives, too. I don’t want to give up another decade of my life to maybe eventually love what I do.

Finding a balance

I used to wholeheartedly believe the flow of life meant suffering now to relax later. Now I think there’s a limit on how much suffering anyone should willingly sign up for. Life is too short and unpredictable to continue to sacrifice all of the things that matter most to me for a possible future gain way down the line.

I don’t want to be remembered as just a doctor. I want to be a wife, mother, traveler, entrepreneur, writer, and philanthropist. Sure, I’m already some of those things and still have time to become the rest, but if I knew my life was going to be short-lived, I wouldn’t be happy with how I’ve lived it. So, some things have got to change soon.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Sickle-Cell.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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