Monday, May 18, 2015

It Must Be Nice

My friend from Mayo Clinic, Erica, recently had an article featured on Physician Family entitled It Must Be Nice

Erica's piece circles around the words: "It must be nice" and how much she dislikes hearing those words. She disliked hearing people talk about her pastor father and using this phrase when discussing the flexibility of his schedule. My cousin Josh is a pastor, and his wife Sarah has often talked about how blessed they are by the flexibility of his schedule. But there is also SO much involved in the life and family of a minister that I is very far from "It must be nice." I would never couple a pastor's job with, "It must be nice."

And now Erica dislikes hearing those same words surrounding the fact that her husband is a doctor.

Erica's husband is an orthopedic surgeon. Erica writes:

"Physicians and physicians’ families are certainly not immune to this phrase or this attitude towards our lives. This is partly due to the fact that our life advantages are public knowledge; a quick internet search will provide an accurate salary average for any physician specialty. People know what our income will be even before we are close to making it. However, there is a larger disparity amongst, for example, business salaries and perks, which makes it a little more of a guessing game than for physicians. People see what they want to see, and for physicians’ families, it is often big houses, nice cars and fancy vacations. Nobody focuses on the years of training, the monstrous amounts of debt or the long hours that are continuously maintained even when you are “done” with training."

Since moving back to the USA, I have found myself keeping the fact that my husband is a doctor a secret. We both grew up as far away from a physician and this lifestyle as you can get, and I had preconceived notions about doctors. I am not a doctor's wife in the stereotypical sense. And my husband doesn't fit the doctor stereotype either. Goodness knows I don't want anyone to have those preconceived notions that I once had about doctors ... about me ... about my husband ... about us.

I have spoken with some friends who are or are married to a physician or lawyer, and I have realized that a lot of this is due to where you live in the country. In wealthier areas, I think it is much easier to blend. Here in Tennessee, especially in the city we live (and most likely the city we move to), I think bleeding is a bit tougher.

When we bought our farm, we did not disclose the fact that JB is a doctor. But it is a small town, and word travels fast. Already the neighbors are calling JB "Doc"! Word sure does travel fast.

Erica goes on to say:

"Please do not misunderstand – I wholeheartedly acknowledge and feel grateful for the perks of my husband’s job, and I know that in many ways our lives will benefit from his profession. I truly do not mind so much that people think we have a lot (or that we will have a lot, as my husband is still in training). What I do mind, though, is when I feel that there is a disconnect between the perks of any job and the sacrifice associated with that particular perk. My husband and my dad both chose their careers, not for the perks but rather, in spite of the shortcomings, for the greater goal, which was and continues to be – to help people. But thanks to both of these men that I love, I continue to learn that it doesn’t matter what we do, it matters that we are all people, and this mentality of 'it must be nice' is reflective of our human nature. And while I find this mentality irritating and share this openly as a commonality that we have all endured, it would be wise for us to not be unchanged by the knowledge."

I hope, as Erica reminds us in our piece, that we stop comparing ourselves to others and thinking "it might be nice" about anyone else. Everyone has their tough stuff to deal with. Money or prestige does not change that.

Secondly, though we cannot control others, let us make up our own minds here and now to think differently ourselves. We must abandon all thought, towards friends and strangers alike, of how 'it must be nice.' What one person has and often does not consider extraordinary, another person dreams of obtaining. Every one of us is in possession of some attribute, skill, or even a material “thing” that another person would greatly desire. Most of all, though, let us always remember to be grateful for what we do have and forget – or prepare ourselves for some seriously hard work – for that which we do not."

Thanks for a great reminder ol' friend!

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