Sometimes I take a 5 hour bus ride to a different campus. And as bad as “5 hour bus ride” sounds, I actually like these rides: the buses are nice, the route goes through the mountains, it takes me to a nice place where I did all my clinical rotations, it’s usually quiet.
I even go so far as to sit in the front, so the bus driver will personally give a polite “shut up” to anyone in my general vicinity who dares to talk on the phone. (It’s so liberating, being able to sleep on public transit!)
But on Saturday I took my usual 5 hour bus ride and found myself sitting behind this loud, eager old man who would not. stop. talking.
The first moment he had a chance, he started engaging the bus driver with questions: “Where’d you get that booster seat?” “Oh? Which Wal-Mart? I’m always looking for a better one! Because – ” (and here his voice swelled with pride) “I’m a bus driver too!”
And for some reason, I immediately felt guilty for sending “shut up” vibes his way.
They went on to have a 3 hour conversation about the E-17 bus models, the federal regulations, the weird thing that sometimes happens with the steering, the hilarious antics of the county transit supervisor.
That man was so proud of his job. Something about his tone of voice made me not mind the 3 hour conversation that interrupted my nice, quiet bus ride.
Why was I on that bus? To attend a small, unofficial graduation ceremony* for medical school. Because soon, I’m graduating medical school. That’s a thing, apparently. A thing that’s legit happening.
And I don’t feel proud at all.
It’s weird. I feel a lot of other things: sad to leave my friends behind, happy to have a job, irritated about the bureaucratic machine behind my “graduation to-do list”, downright panicked about moving, nostalgic about all the good times and the class bonding…
But I have yet to think “I have an MD! I made it! Good for me!”
Which is pretty stupid, because just this morning I felt proud for getting up at Totally Reasonable O’Clock to attend a mandatory meeting. I was like, “Yes! Look at me! Awake! Facing the day! SOMEBODY GIVE ME AN AWARD.”
I felt even prouder for taking out the trash last night. I didn’t have to do that! No one was visiting! Look at me, adulting!
Anyway, so I took the bus to the graduation ceremony. And I listened to two bus drivers talk shop for hours. And I somehow wasn’t as annoyed by it as I would normally have been.
You know what? As I’m writing this, I think I’ve realized why I don’t feel “proud”: whenever I pictured myself graduating / becoming a ‘doctor’, I sort of pictured myself as… a doctor. Someone with secret, insider medical knowledge. Someone who can fix people!
But it’s been 4 years, I’m getting that magical “M.D.”, and yet…. nada. In fact, I feel approximately as legit as this guy:
So how can I walk across the stage and feel the sense of pride when I always pictured that pride being accompanied by… I don’t know… actual doctoriness? Or doctor skills? Or even just general knowledge?
But the clock’s ticking, because after so many graduation celebrations, my actual graduation – For Real Graduation, We Mean It This Time, You’re Wearing A Floppy Hat And Everything – is on Wednesday. And to be honest, I’m still not feeling anything.
(Seriously, the wizard robes and floppy hat set me back $260. To rent. To RENT.)
(I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA.)