The gifts have been opened, the horrible Christmas cold has been survived, and the girlfriend and I are spending the last few days of holidays maximizing our laziness. Our wardrobes alternate between sleep clothes and sweatpants, meals consist of assorted cheeses and chocolates from the dwindling supply of leftovers, and our main activity is binge watching Netflix on our laptops (The Good Wife for her; The Walking Dead for me). If I didn't have to carry the pager and periodically put on grown up clothes to go to the hospital, it would be perfect.
Although it seems cliche, I thought I'd take this opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed. While some parts of it have been hard, I would say that it's overall been a good one.
Work: Without question, this has been the biggest event of the year. After 16 years of post-secondary training, I finally completed all of my studies in June. And then I started as an attending in August! By the time my fellowship ended, I was feeling very "done" with being a trainee and with having to do what other people tell me to. Now as an attending, I sometimes wish that someone else would tell me what to do. I struggle daily with the stress of making my own decisions and being responsible for the outcomes of my patients. I worry that I don't know enough - that I'm not enough - to be a good doctor for them. And it sucks.
On the upside, though, I'm slowly learning to be the type of doctor that I want to be. I'm taking time with my patients to get to know them and to earn their trust. I'm learning to work with very diverse staff members, the vast majority of whom I enjoy and make my life easier. And I'm developing more of the clinical experience and judgment that make someone a really good doctor. So some of it is really good.
Also, I managed to complete the monstrous curriculum redevelopment project with more than 24 hours to spare before the deadline. And I think I did a pretty good job. So yay for me.
Finances: 2015 has mostly been a year of budgeting. For the first half of the year, I was very careful with my money in order to save for an out-of-town elective* and for seven weeks of vacation after fellowship. While the tight budget was stressful at times, there were some unexpected benefits to having to find ways to be happy without spending money. On my vacation, for example, I saved money by volunteering at our local music and theatre festivals, and I created a lot of positive memories from the volunteering itself.
Once I started working, I did a very smart thing and kept up with the budget (although with some loosening given that I don't have major expenses for which to save). I also went to my trusted financial advisor and said "Here is all the extra money I will be making. Save it for me." By not inflating my lifestyle along with my income, I've been able to make even more financial headway than I had hoped. I'm ending the year approximately $40,000-$45,000 better off than I started it, and I'm hoping to be back to a positive net worth within a year of starting work. Only $42,000 to go**.
(Full disclosure: I did completely lose my financial shit in November, and it took me the entire month of December to recover. I'm not perfect. It was a good life lesson, and one that I may write about here if I make the time for it.)
Romance: 2015 is the first full calendar year that the girlfriend and I have spent together. For both of us, it was a year of transitioning from the initial "Yay! I'm in love! Everything is wonderful!" phase into the "Hmmmm....I'm actually dating a real, imperfect human being" phase. Some of it has been challenging, and there have been more discussions about the appropriate loading of the dishwasher than I thought two people could have in one year, but most of it has been wonderful.
After spending almost 15 years of my adult life as a single person, it is simultaneously incredible and strange to be sharing my life with someone. I love having someone to debrief with at the end of the day and to wake up with on weekends. (On weekdays, waking up is horrible, and it is made worse by the fact that my girlfriend starts work much later than I do.) I love always having a date for weddings, particularly one who is less excited about dressing up than I am. I find it strange that someone else gets an opinion about the type of soap that I buy and whether the cats sleep with me in the bed. I am sometimes an asshole about sharing the couch. (The spot in the corner by the lamp is always mine.) It is imperfect, but it is also lovely, and I think I'm going to keep her.
Relationships: My seven-week-long vacation was a great opportunity to reconnect with people in my life. I spent time with my Mom, my grandmother who lives outside of the city, my nieces, and multiple friends whose lives are even busier than my own. It was a great reminder of how many good people I have in my life and of how important they are to me.
Then work started and...well...time with other people is always the first thing to go. This is something to work on.
Hobbies: 2015 was the year of the library. I always have a stack of library books waiting to be read, as well as a running list on the library website of books to order when I need more. I seem to mostly be reading non-fiction, with an emphasis on medical memoirs and strategies for life improvement (e.g. Gretchen Rubin), but there has been some good fiction thrown in there. I'm thankful that my girlfriend reintroduced me to the library, as it has led me to read many books that I never would have been willing to spend money on and therefore would not have otherwise read.
The real positive to reading more is that I have been watching far less television than I used to. While I still haven't given up cable, and I probably won't unless Top Chef gets cancelled, I have probably cut my television watching time in half. (Not counting the 16 episodes of The Walking Dead that I have watched in the past week.)
Travel: Due to the budget, 2015 has involved much less travel than other years. I spent a month away from home on elective in February, and at the end of the month the girlfriend and I had a few days in the Rocky Mountains for vacation. We similarly had a few days of vacation in San Francisco following a conference in November. But that was it. Even my seven weeks of holidays were spent entirely in my home city, without even a trip to the country to photograph grain elevators. While I'm happy to have saved the money, I am feeling a bit of wanderlust.
Health: There is a smear of cheese on my sweatshirt. This pretty much sums up my commitment to health this year. Although I did take up biking in the summer! That counts for something, right?
That's it! How was your 2015?
*In the end, I was reimbursed all of my expenses for my out-of-town elective, which was a huge boost to my budget. Yay!
**I still have approximately $165,000 of debt though. Ugh. It'll be close to a decade before that beast is slain.