Why I’m not a paramedic
When EMS becomes your life, losing your job can almost feel like losing your life
By Sean Eddy
For a good part of my career, when people would ask me what I did for a living, I would tell them "I'm a paramedic."
I never thought too much of it until I hit a point where I seriously considered a career change. Burnout, divorce, money problems and other emotional factors had led me to hate my line of work and I almost made the decision to leave. I eventually got my life back together and essentially saved my career, but that's another story for another article. What stands out when I look back on that time in my life is the question that I continuously asked myself:
"If I'm not a paramedic anymore, then what am I?"
I didn't realize it at the time, but I had completely identified myself with my line of work. I wasn't "Sean, the musician" or "Sean, the guy that loves to write." I was a paramedic. I had allowed my job to rob me of my identity and to some extent, my self-worth. I felt like if I wasn't a paramedic, I was nothing ... just another guy.
Once I came to this realization, I knew I had to change, and that all started with abolishing the phrase "I'm a paramedic." Instead, I say, "I work as a paramedic”" or "I work for [fill in the blank] Ambulance Service as a paramedic." While the difference in phrasing may seem insignificant, it made all the difference in how I looked at myself and my life. I started getting out more and doing things I love like shooting, fishing, music, etc.
Instead of spending all of my days off talking about work, I started talking about things like sports, or my children. I started enjoying life more and naturally started to create a better balance between my job and my personal life. In a weird way, it actually helped me fall in love with my job again.
I felt motivated to write this article after having two different conversations with friends who left EMS for different reasons — both of which were involuntary. Both of them struggle with their identity and I can completely understand why. When EMS becomes your life, losing your job can almost feel like losing your life. This is the exact reason why I made the decision to separate my job from how I define who I am.
So who am I, exactly?
I'm a young, enthusiastic man who wants to make the most out of my life. I have two beautiful, healthy children, and an amazing job. I'm not perfect. I can be passive-aggressive, lazy at times and I'm pretty sure I invented Attention Deficit Disorder. I love to write, travel, cook, run, shoot, fish, play music, meet people and find ways to do what they said couldn't be done. I love Jesus and hate politicians. I'm really good at arguing and really bad at admitting when I'm wrong ... because you know, it rarely happens. I hope to see the country through the window of a train and see the world one mountain top at a time. I may never become rich by the world's standards, but I'll never owe another man a dime and I'll always have everything I could possibly need. Oh yeah ... and a few times a week, I go to work to stamp out disease and thwart natural selection.
When we allow our line of work to define who we are, we give up a big piece of our identity. The problem is, if our job goes away, it can be nearly impossible to get that piece back.