Dear me,

Congratulations on your doctorate and finishing your residency! You worked so hard, and you’ve accomplished so much. You’ve come such a long way.

I know you’ve been told by many people that “the world is your oyster.” I know you’re tired of studying and you just want to work now and make money. But, I’m here at age 42 to tell you, this is the wrong approach.

You’re going to regret not getting those extra certifications. The job market is going to get more competitive as you get older. You’re going to find it difficult to move on from one place that is incredibly toxic.

I know you think you’re tired now, but I want you to know, you don’t know a damn thing about being tired. There is tired because you were out late, and then there is tired because you have four kids and a brain injury.

Oh, I forgot to mention the brain injury. That’s part of the brain fog, which is because of the brain injury.

See, I wish I could tell you how to stop it from happening, but I think it’ll happen regardless. There is something big and deadly growing in your brain. Maybe it’s not there yet. Well, I actually know it isn’t. Because that MRI you have in about seven years shows it wasn’t there.

I don’t know when it starts to grow, but I have a guess. But, that’s all it is. It’s just a guess. There’s nothing you can do.

But, I digress.

This job you land, it was great in the beginning. But, see, you got complacent with your career. You stopped doing presentations at national conferences. You stopped publishing. You thought it was ok to slow down and start a family.

But, you didn’t see this bomb in your brain coming. You didn’t know you’d almost die at age 37.

When you woke up in the ICU, you thought you won the lottery. You survived! A doctor with insane skills was close by. He and his team saved you. He looked back at that MRI, and he didn’t see the horrific aneurysm. No one knew it was there. Not until it was too late.

Now, you’re working all of the time, stuck in a job that you hate, because you need the money and the medical benefits. You’re stuck there because you thought you’d done enough.

You need to keep going. You need to keep studying. It’ll be too difficult for you to study once that aneurysm blows. It’ll cost you precious energy. It’ll give you headaches. It’ll be so difficult for you to keep up with your coworkers.

You won’t be disabled “enough” to qualify for disability. So, you have to keep working. Those kids you wanted, and tried so long and so hard to have, will need you to keep working.

I don’t know how much more time you have left, but I know how tired you are and how difficult your life is.

Do everything you can to set yourself up for your future success. Keep studying the industry. Keep presenting. Keep publishing. Keep your resume top notch.

You’re stuck in a rut and you can’t get out.

But, also, have as much fun as you can. Travel as much as you can. Go to more concerts. You won’t be able to once this thing in your head pops. The noise and chaos will overwhelm you. It takes you days, sometimes weeks, to recover from major events.

No one understands. You look fine. You’re not. Not at all. Every day is a struggle.

We are all just one breath away from everything being different. You are no exception.