Drawing the Line

For all of you who don’t yet know it, I decided to put my studies in Human Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna on ice for the time being. I’ve thought about it for quite some time, since April, actually. I didn’t really think about quitting, at least in the beginning, but I was trying to get an idea about how my life would be in the next five years if I passed the SIP1 in June. How it would be if I failed the next attempt but passed it in September. Or how it would play out if I couldn’t pass it at all. Whatever outcome I could think of, the problem remained the same, and that simple discovery sealed the deal for me.

I Simply Can't Do It!

Me, 2011

These are most likely the hardest words to say for me. I know that if I put my mind to something, and try hard enough, I can do it. If I tried to learn Russian, I’d most likely be able to at least master the basics, although I might never become a master. And I still think that I could be a good doctor.

But learning something requires time and space. Mastering something requires even more space and time plus focus and dedication. You don’t earn a medical degree and become a good doctor by just investing just a little bit of time. You need to commit to it, to dedicate a lot of time and effort.

I knew that in the beginning, and I was ready to do this. But I was also not ready to let all the time and work I put into my Informatics Bachelor go to waste. It was just not enough for me to only attend some classes in IT and spend the better part of my time on Medicine. I would have needed to spend almost all of my productive time on medicine, at least the last three to four months before the SIP 1 exam, and I just couldn’t.

Sometimes you better just stop.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I don’t think that the time spent on studying medicine was a waste. Quite the opposite. I learned a lot. I met a lot of interesting people, although it’s hard for me to keep in touch with them. Mostly I don’t manage to.

But most importantly, I tried to do something because I felt it was worth the effort and the risk. I failed, but I started to move on when I discovered I was getting more unhappy and bitter every day, because I just couldn’t do it.

This is what kept me from stopping for a year: the fear, that I had wasted my time. The fact that I had tried to do something that, as many people told me, was too much effort and too complicated, but that I tried nonetheless, and I failed.

I decided to see it as an experiment that failed like most experiments do, and move on–move back, rather–to another experiment. I gained the confidence to stop while I still could, move away and take care of other things, and maybe repeat the experiment with a different setup at a later time when I made this adjustment to my perception. If you feel like your running against walls at your current job, school, project, ask yourselve’s the following questions: Am I happy now? Can I still do what’s necessary to make this work? If the answer to both question is „no“ for you, maybe you too should think about moving on.

I did, and I still feel it was the right decision.

I’m still processing what happened, so this will mostly likely extend into a series. More to come, later.

I started to write this in June, but postponed publishing it because I wanted to use the summer to think this through again carefully. Now I feel confident enough to put it out there.

A big thanks to David for hunting down all those nasty mistakes in this post! He didn’t read the last paragraphs of this post because I wrote them this morning. If you find any mistakes in those, it’s not his fault.