Recently, one of the testier attending physicians in the department was speaking with another intern who appeared to be at least five years older than me. In reference to this intern's increased life experience points and presumably more focused and ambitious career plans, this attending linked them together and rather casually derided “the folks who go to medical school and don't know what they want and halfway through decide that they don't want all this [waving at the hospital].”
Now I resemble this remark because I do not intend to find a job as a usual pediatrician or go into subspecialist training when I finish. I intend to chart my way off the beaten path that leads from medical student to practicing physician. I love the work some days, and it's a valuable body of knowledge that I can master. Yet I am looking for work that will allow me to use many of the skill sets I have, and also to continue to be a generalist, learning new skills as I go. Incidentally, I will also be looking for work that is more conducive to family life and to pursuing my wide range of non-career interests. Therefore, I disagree with the implication that I've wasted the seven years I'll have put into the medical career at the end of my residency.
In the gaming world a player's character gathers experience points in each battle, whether the beast is slain or not. I can stretch a simile and suggest that each endeavor, each moment in life, garners myself experience. Though I do occasionally regret a choice, usually I get over the unnecessary emotion and view the moment as a learning experience. Similarly, while I could have chosen to take more of a risk and just moved to San Diego with Sunny to look for a job instead of going to medical school, and perhaps been happier finishing a Ph.D. program in English, I made the best decision I could at each step of my path between entering medical school and finishing my intern year in a pediatric residency. Thus, I am now endowed with one of the rarer professional degrees one'll see in academic research, and I also have a large body of knowledge on how children might be raised, though not the experience of course.
I have always pictured myself as a person who constantly evolves and develops herself. Though this stage in my growth may seem very masochistic to others, it still serves as a stage of dramatic growth. It is very narrow-minded to consider it a waste of time despite the fact that the outcome is not the expected one.