Illustrated by Patrick Daugherty

What to expect when you’re expecting (very little)

– A testimonial from the guy who quit his job –
Date: 02.21.2022
By Dr. Ötsab Kcisz (Leah Olds)
To the beautiful and gorgeous staff at Light of Benevolence Sanatorium Unit,

There is no doubt in my mind that you all are weeping at the news of my leave from the hospital. It has come at quite an unexpected moment in time, I’m sure. Upper management hired me on Wednesday, all but 72 hours ago. And to lose such an esteemed professional with less than a weekend of merriment to share? Such an event must amount to personal tragedy.

But in lieu of a woeful goodbye, I bear unto you a piece of uplifting advice which is also the reason for my departure from your team. My dear nurses and surgeons (in addition to all those other tiny people who are not nurses or surgeons), take the following words to heart like a 1.83mm needle:

GIVE.
UP.

Some of you, especially those who are not nurses or surgeons, may wonder what this cryptic metaphor really means. Do not exhaust your delicate lobes on my behalf. I will present this idea in simpler terms using some reverse translations of the old country, from which I originate.

“Quit until you cannot quit anymore.”

“Crawl in the opposite direction of the finish line.”

“Do not do that thing you were about to do.”

“Seriously, do not do it.”

Yes, my good-looking friends. These are what constitute my new life philosophy, my raisin debtor. For the past three days I have embarked on a journey which young people and hashtag analysts would refer to as a “#girlbossmoment” wherein I learned how, what, and when to quit.

I personally believe that the truest form of self-care is one’s complete disengagement from the frivolities of daily life. But it seems that society at large looks down on those people who toss in the towel for hobbies, sports, jobs and romantic pursuits in the interest of self-realization. Why? The answer is simple.

The people who expect us to do things do not want us to stop doing the things they expect us to do.

This eerie realization rocked me to my core and tallied many queries. Who am I, a nondescript European-turned-American-through-marriage, if not an individualist at heart? Are we Yankee Doodles not entitled to the boundless joys of self-determination? Must we always have a ‘can-do’ spirit in order to get what we want?

I would argue, no. Or rather, ‘no’ to the second question in a positive way, but ‘no’ to the third question in a negative way. See, the first question was rhetorical.

If I could have mastered the art of quitting as a small wonder playing in the sandy sand, I would have said to myself, “Ötsab, you do not have to finish all of the veggies just to have babička’s dessert. You should ditch those xylophone lessons while you still have the chance. And for the love of God, do NOT attend medical school in Florida.”

A truly successful person knows to shirk the game when their talents are not being acknowledged to a satisfactory degree, and I am no longer satisfied in my position. In our line of work, it is entirely too predictable to experience what researchers at the Cleveland Health Clinic refer to as “depersonalization,” where we feel disconnected from others due to mental burnout.

But make no mistake, sweet chickadees. Burnout is not what led me to join the millions of quitters recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the last six months, who shook up capitalism’s icecap-less snowglobe.

The only burnout I experienced was the kind that happens in my Honda Civic, in the company of Dr. Dre, after completing an eight-hour cardiopulmonary bypass. It seems that ‘chronic’ is a delightfully flexible term outside of Western medicine. But I digress.

It is not always the people around us that make us do these things, you know. Sometimes the final straw can simply be the neglect of one’s own vision. And as a reaction to an unfulfilled promise, the desire to give up is so natural; it is what you should expect when you’ve already been conditioned to expect very little from certain engagements you make in good faith.

Thus, I found serenity in the pink slip.

After all, what is a quitter if not a person who is actually a premature winner, or an ambitious self-starter? Through quitting I have gained an ability of clairvoyant value, which clears my mind of all anxieties and abandons any task that is an affront to its own well-being.

Quitting is an evolutionary defense mechanism and I am no more than a human animal at its mercy. When I proudly stormed out of the operating room yesterday afternoon, I finally acknowledged this biological fact. I also learned that there is simply no better time for self-reflection than in the middle of an open-heart surgery.

Light of Benevolence, I quit not only for me, but also for myself and I. As the old American proverb states, “There is no ‘i’ in ‘team.’ But there is a ‘me,’ if you take out the ‘a’ and the ‘t.’”

I wish all of you attractive, educated and medicated nurses and surgeons the best of luck. Take a load off, for once in your severely overachieving lives, and just give up!

Ave maria,
Ötsab Kcisz , M.D.
*Former* Cardiothoracic surgeon