My Booming Frontal Cortex

Unborn Ideas by Catrin Arno
Unborn Ideas by Catrin Arno

I remember it clearly. I was twelve years old and one day, without any precipitating events, I looked at the world as if with new eyes. I felt as if I had been living in a bubble, and suddenly the world was big and I wasn’t a child. Or I was, but I didn’t want to be.

It was my first experience with “growing up” and I can only postulate that as it was roundabout the time that I hit puberty, my frontal cortex was busy myelinating like crazy. I of course believed that my brain was fully developed and that old people who claimed it was still developing were, well, old – but what would a twelve year old know, right?

It wasn’t so rapid this time but I think I may be having a similar experience now. I have been trying to put it into words but having largely neglected any kind of writing besides the odd blog post, that hasn’t gone so well. It started with a feelings of disconnect and then intense reconnection; and a lot of confusion about my role in society as a doctor, a daughter, a sister, a partner, a citizen.

I have become more aware of the way I carry myself and the way I may be perceived (after the acute self-consciousness of adolescence I didn’t think it was possible to become MORE aware); and I have been challenging the way I experience myself outwardly and inwardly.

In short, I think I’m having a bit of an identity crisis.

And why shouldn’t I?

Internship seems to prime us for it. Swapping rotations every few months, everyone trying to put their foot – or finger or nose – into our young adult lives; yet with few physicians putting themselves in a position to act in a mentoring capacity rather than an “I am your boss” capacity.

Who am I, in relation to my patients, my family, my peers, my colleagues? Who will I become? What will I become? Will I find a community of physicians with similar views? Am I satisfied with the direction my life is taking and if not, what will I do to change that? As an intern, is there anything I can do to effect change, be it in my day-to-day life or my long-term future?

What kind of adult do I want to be – and do I really have a say in it?

I find myself in intense introspection most of my free time. I can’t necessarily write it all, but every once in a while I come up with a coherent thought.

My latest: am I the only one of my colleagues that feels this change? Ohmygod: AM I BROKEN?!


  1. Victo Dolore says:

    I think we all experience this to some degree so you are not broken! 🙂

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I wonder if some of it has to do with your increasing responsibilities as a doctor. I know between my intern year and my second year of residency I went through a bit of a metamorphosis too. No longer could I always lean on someone else with my decisions–it was others who now leaned on me! :/

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I think you definitely have a point there. The increase in responsibility is certainly huge.

  3. Nancy Ackelson says:

    Have you heard of the term “growing pains”? It refers to the suffering and distress that occurs when some thing, some body is developing, progressing, becoming some thing/one new. It happens when you are stretched, challenged, reach readiness for the next step as some thing/one ripens, evolves, matures. It can be painful, scary, sad…And it gets better. I promise! ❤

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Yes! Actually, growing up I got the worst ever literal growing pains. Thank you for the perspective Nancy ❤

  4. Oh, I hear you. I feel I am constantly evaluating who I am and what I should be doing…and even if one day I feel completely self assured that probably just means the next I will despair of ever finding my place. It’s easy to say just be who you are and live without apology but that is so hard to define. Mostly, it’s just too exhausting to think about. 🙂 I don’t know…maybe it’s just a matter of accepting, less evaluating and more just being? I thought it was a byproduct of entering my twenties…so in some ways it is reassuring to know I’m not alone and it’s exclusive to my age group. 🙂

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Oh yeah. I remember reading something about a quarter life crisis which sounds like a dumb thing but maybe it’s that. Mh. But it IS reassuring to hear we are not alone!

  5. Heather says:

    You are NOT broken – you are growing – changing – adapting and it’s fantastic! I stumbled across this blog a few weeks ago and I’m so glad I did. I’m enjoying your book recommendations, your writing, and just everything about this site. I started my blog about 7 months ago and I am amazed at the little community that has sprouted up around me – another blogger nominated me for a Liebster award – something I had never heard of to be honest – it’s a fun little way to share blogs you love and show love to those blogs. Long story short, I’ve nominated you and listed you on my site. You absolutely do not have to accept the assignment, just know that you are fanastic and I’m glad I’ve found this site. Keep your chin up, you are obviously going to do fantastic things in life.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Thanks so much Heather. I appreciate your awesome encouragement. And thank you for the award too – such a nice gesture!

  6. I can certainly relate to what you are experiencing. This won’t be the first time either. But, you are doing the healthy thing by trying to process it all and really spend the time to figure out where you “fit” in this massive puzzle of life before it all passes you by. The beauty is that you are writing about it and you will enjoy looking back on these posts in the coming years. Hang in there! Medicine is a journey and you are right in the middle of the most endearing part.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Thank you 🙂 It’s really great to hear that others more senior in the field can relate to this experience too.

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