When I got accepted to OHSU’s PA program, my husband and I made the decision to keep our home base in Bend and have me return from Portland every weekend. I have, to date, driven 349 hours in 51 round trips. The repetition of this endless loop sometimes gets frustrating [Why do slow drivers suddenly speed up at passing lanes?], but overall I like the weekly echo. My mind can wind down after a crazy week, and I have time to think slower, longer thoughts.
On the drive I pass by some small towns and many scattered remote homes. Seeing those, my thoughts pause on the topic of human migration. I am speaking of migration in its purest form, without influence from strife or other external factors. Moving for the sake of newness. Relocating for the sake of adventure. [Does victimless human migration even exist? Probably not, but let’s pretend.]
With this pureness in mind, what makes a person decide that a location is good enough to stop and make a home of? Like, imagine all you know of the land is that an ocean is due west, and you have just crossed an interminable desert to happen upon a lovely green dip by a river. Why pause there? Why not keep going and aim for something better? [Again, imagine you have a choice in where to stop. Again, imagine that there are no losers in this game; no displaced persons pushed out from your desire of a better life.]
The ability to stop on the journey and be ok with that land as your new home takes a calm sort of confidence. A complete ability to trust oneself. To know that you and your family can flourish here. That the horizon is fine being left alone for now. This isn’t a loud, showy confidence that needs an audience nodding approval at your decision, but arises from a core of self-assuredness.
This type of calm is what I have unexpectedly developed during my first year in PA school. Praise is fickle and often doesn’t reflect my true strengths or struggles. Passing exams and receiving good grades can become yet another measuring stick used to compare myself to my peers, creating more and more anxiety. The real driving force is the awareness that this is the career for me and I truly have what it takes to make a great PA.
When I started PA school one year ago I assumed that the knowledge I would take away would be entirely composed of science and fact. And as I enter the clinical phase of my education feeling more and more the capable clinician with each week that passes, the main lesson I have learned [am learning!] is that of a steady center. This does not at all suppress the desire to learn more of my chosen craft, but instead pushes me along towards my goals. It allows me to learn everything of where I am right now, without anxiety, and then push on towards the next horizon, the next hurdle. I am grateful for the trials and stress of the first year of PA school as I feel ready for the new challenges the second year will present. My migration has brought me here, and I am happy for that.