I find making new friends and meeting new colleagues quite tricky. Partly I think because I'm an introvert, and most people aren't, so it takes a lot of energy for me to do sociable-type things like going to lunch with the whole gang every day rather than curling up in a quiet corner with a book.
I also don't feel like I have a lot in common with other students - my life looks very different in significant ways like disability, or longtermlivein relationship, or queerness - but it's generally the seemingly less significant bits that actually make me feel like an alien - being vegan, doing activism, being Christian but not the kind of Christian the majority of Christian students seem to be. And things that shouldn't matter, but still hurt, like everyone else taking the shortcut to the canteen down the back stairs while I have to go round via the lift, with a merry "see you there". Lunch with a group of people I don't know is my idea of hell. I end up feeling weird, feeling 'other', feeling inferior and fatlazystupidhorrible.
I have friends in medical school, close friends, friends I would eat lunch with every day, it's not that I'm a social outcast. It's just that when you're in a year group of 300, the chance of being placed with someone you're close to is slim. Even when you're in the same hospital as a friend, meeting for lunch is a challenge when each of you is at the whim of whichever consultant you're stalking that day.
A big consideration for me when I chose to intercalate (take a year away from med school to get a BSc) was that I would end up in a different year group. The way things worked out meant that most of my close friends (although not my best friend) intercalated, so I had plenty of familiar faces in the new year group, but it was still quite hard. Now I'm taking this year out, it will happen all over again, except without the scattering of familiar faces to make it easier.
I've come to realise that this is going to happen every year now, for at least the next ten. Working less than fulltime will mean that those I start the foundation programme with will finish in half the time, leaving me with a new batch, and the same will happen in specialist training.
In a lot of ways this doesn't worry me - I have friends and a support network that is not dependent on who I'm working with. I don't feel the urge to socialise a lot out of work with my colleagues in big groups - and I often can't manage the activities anyway - clubbing, late nights, lots of drinking don't go well with my wonky bod (although this is another part of introversion that people don't really understand and I don't think it helps me in terms of fitting in).
But I'm worried about constantly meeting new people (and along with that constantly fielding 'what's wrong with you?' or 'you don't eat cheese?' or 'so what does your partner do, is he a doctor?'). I'm worried about resenting friends who can chug through life at 'normal' place, or being told that I have no right to be stressed/tired during FY1 when I work less than fulltime or don't do certain shifts.
I was talking to the mrs about this yesterday. It's not easy to let myself work through all these little bits of conceptual sadness, these little losses of stuff that isn't yet. I feel so angry, so sad, so let down. I can't think about it, because if I let it overwhelm me, they'll be so much more to grieve for. I'm finding it hard to be at church at the moment, and I think that this is why. It's the only time in the week that I can't control the direction my mind wanders. That wouldn't be a bad thing - I want to work through this stuff, want to name it, to feel it, to put it aside or act on it as appropriate - but I don't get the whole way through the process. I just go to church, get upset/angry, and then come home feeling like shit. I don't know how to make it better. I know it's hard for the mrs that I don't go, but I can't face it. I don't want to keep going to church and leaving in tears.
And you know, I'm actually really happy. I have a beautiful mrs, and lovely family/friends, and a daft cat. There's just this bit of me that's hurting, that hurts more every time I have to fight with my GP to provide the healthcare I need, or listen to the med school's bullshit about why they can't make adaptations. Every time people's words and actions seem to scream that I'm a lazy, inconvenient liar who they wish would disappear.