Pursuing financial independence, especially as a physician, can inadvertently bring about feelings of resentment from colleagues.
Taking cues from bloggers far smarter and more experienced than I am, I’ve learned not to bring up the subject of finances around co-workers, although if asked I’ll volunteer that I geeked out on finance a few years back and took over managing our portfolio since that time.
On the heels of a variety of initiatives I’ve helped to introduce, I’ve developed a reputation in our physician group as a champion of work-life balance who wears his values on his sleeve.
I’ll admit I’m a hands-on father, and I cried during the first five minutes of watching, “Up,” but I’m not the special snowflake that others make me out to be.
I suspect this distinction could be a mechanism for making me other – different enough to be considered an outlier who does not threaten the status quo because hey, I’m an exotic species of sensitive new age guy whereas everyone else is normal. If I’m the strange one, there’s no need to critically examine accepted societal norms.
I understand this completely, but it occasionally brings about this recurrent exchange:
Me: I’d like to to work less in a way that’s fair to the group.
Colleague: Can you make that work with your financial obligations?
Me: Yes. We’ve made adjustments so we can function on less.
Colleague: I don’t get it. I could never do that.
Me: Have you seen our matching 9 year old Kias, which we bought used? We all choose our trade-offs, and those are some of our more visible choices.
Colleague: Right, but you must have a trust fund too.
Colleague: Then I imagine it must be nice to have your parents bankroll your lifestyle.
Me: No. When I work less, it’s a big hit to our income and it hurts us just like it would hurt any other household. We just compensate in other ways.
The unspoken part of the conversation, and the reason it seems to go in circles, proceeds as follows:
Colleague: You aren’t old enough / sick enough / haven’t paid dues enough to do this yet. Why do you get to do it when I can’t?
Me: It’s a priority we pursue, not a luxury we can uniquely afford.