Following my grand gesture a little more than a month ago, when I voluntarily decided to opt out of graduate school, I made a promise to myself that I would use this “time off” wisely. I try to stray away from the words “vacation” or “break”, because in my mind, this year off is just as crucial to my applicant status as the years at UCLA were. So I need to be productive. Not busy, but productive. And likewise, I can’t indulge in this new-founded free time. I’m not saying that I have never had free time to myself when I was at UCLA. Realistically, I have so much time to spare that I finished seven seasons of 7th Heaven in a month during the summer, along with taking classes. But at the same time, I never had time to myself to be productive. I’m gluttonous when it comes to free time. I tend to soak it in – which means sitting in bed in my pajamas watching TV and being a couch potato. That’s what I have always done when I have wanted a mental break from school, home, work, and life.
But this “time off” is not a mental break. It’s more mental preparation for what is to come. Especially now that I have decided that I am really, truly, whole-heartedly going to dive into this doctor thing. In the past month, I have started shadowing doctors to gain a better understanding of what to expect. Per my primary care physician’s recommendation, I have looked into osteopathic, along with allopathic careers. Three months ago, if you had asked me what the difference between a DO and MD were, I would have looked at you with complete and utter bewilderment. Fast forward to now, and I am shocked at how little I really knew of the medical field. Maggie Gyllenhaal once commented that her Columbia education taught her to
“acknowledge that I really know nothing”
Well, you can say that this time spent researching and shadowing has done just the same in my case. I have wanted to a pediatrician since kindergarten. Why a pediatrician? I liked children. I liked being surrounded by fresh faces and young minds. Great personal statement for what motivates me to be a doctor, right? So as much as I am drawn to pediatrics, I have decided to look at other specialities via shadowing. Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, OB/GYN, to name a few. And so far, every occupation I’ve looked into has strengthened my resounding want to become a health professional. It is not about one speciality, it is about the whole package. And being a doctor is not just a “job”. It is a lifelong journey that I need to be emotionally, mentally, and physically ready to take on.
“You’re too lax”
This was told to me in 10th grade by a girl who was extremely gifted. When I first heard her utter these words, I was in complete and utter shock. I, of all people, lax? Are you kidding me? I have never been as tightly wounded as I was back in high school. So I took in those words and promised myself that I would some day meet up with her again and be able to throw them back in her face. Petty? Extremely – especially now that I realize that she wasn’t completely wrong. I may have been a “tight-ass” in high school, but at the same time, I had such idealistic/naïve views of the medical field. They told me it was going to be hard. They told me that I would meet thousands of crazy pre-med students in the same scenario. But I sort of half-listened as I charmed my way out of high school, not really knowing how to study, and optimistically thinking that becoming a doctor meant taking a test and getting into a school.
Thankfully, I have been given the time to really discover how being/becoming a doctor is multi-faceted. And through this knowledge, comes acceptance and understanding of what I must overcome – not only in this year or next year, but for years to come. It’s a bit hilarious really, thinking of how, a month ago, I cringed at the thought of disappointing so many people by not carrying out a false dream of mine. Now I cringe thinking of all I might have lost if I decided to blindly follow my mind.
Sometimes it pays to consult your heart. As corny as that may sound, I really think regrets stem from solely following either your brain or heart and not allowing a dialogue between the two. Sure, I don’t have the hustle and bustle of a city. I can’t call myself a graduate student or revel in the immensity of Columbia University. But I do wake up every day at 7 or 8 AM. I learn more about this field that I am dedicating my life to and I get to read often. I have become a regular at Planet Fitness with my two best friends. I have fallen in love with the guitar. I get to find the beauty and importance in the little things. Sure, it’s not New York, but I have never been healthier or happier.
And with that, I leave you with this hilarious comic: