Awkward Stage

Let’s be real, when have I ever not been in some sort of awkward stage? Pre-teen years, teenage years, young adult years – maybe it’s just me, I am and will forever be awkward. But being in school at this stage of life has been a bit unnerving. They said the average age for medical school is 25 – so really, I should think great, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. However I feel like I’m caught in the middle. Perhaps it’s because I’m in the South where marriages tend to happen sooner. Or maybe because it’s a relatively small town. But I feel like I’m caught in between two types of people. On one hand, you have the fresh out of school students who want to continue living out their college years by going to parties, drinking daily, and goofing around. On the other, you have the students who are married and/or have children and despite their age (as some of them are younger than me!), they are very formal, by the book, with no interests in socializing. I know I’m not twenty-one, but I’m also not an “old fart”. I want to hang out with friends, watch Netflix, maybe go to a movie, hike, etc. But I also don’t necessarily need alcohol in the picture to have a good time. I want friends who are at a similar point in life where I am – they’ve grown a bit so they’re not searching for the crazy, but who still enjoy exploring and winding down.

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When I Grow Up

Inspired by barefootmed’s post about passion, I decided to create a “mindmap” from a post I drafted up back in October of 2013 that illustrates my thought process as I was deciding what career would suit me best.

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This is of course a watered down version of the real deal. There were many other professions and disciplines that I considered going into whether it be for a moment or for an extended period of time. I wish I could say that I had it figured out in high school. I mean, I thought I did – like many other pre-meds, I had declared that I wanted to be a doctor back when I was 5 years old. But as you learn more about the world, you just realize there is just so much more out there than your generic, “teacher, firefighter, lawyer, doctor” spiel that you get in elementary school. Friends, movies, tv shows, books, professors, colleagues, people – they all gave me perspective.

While I am happy that I found my way back to my five-year old’s dream, up until two years ago, I honestly never knew why I was hell-bent on becoming a doctor. There aren’t any physicians in my immediate or extended family. I wasn’t exposed to death at an early age, nor was I diagnosed with any life-threatening disease that required frequent trips to the hospital. I had no fractures or broken bones growing up and I was seldom sick so the only time I would see my pediatrician was once a year during a wellness exam. That’s all. So why was I “passionate” about becoming a doctor when I couldn’t identify where that passion stemmed from?

High school students (and younger) are often led to believe that in order to find that right job for you, you must be passionate about it. This hit close to home for me because there were countless times in college and high school where I would find something science-related boring and question my intentions for going into the medical field. I had a high school guidance counselor who stood up to my freshmen class and told us that if we weren’t passionate about science and math, we were probably not going to become doctors. It struck a nerve then, and it still irks me now that a counselor would say that to students who barely had a grasp on what they wanted to do, let alone understood what the term “passionate” entailed. As someone who naturally excelled in English and History, I definitely started questioning myself after hearing just that one phrase. And that’s probably what spawned my inability to commit to one profession during my college years.

Of course, nothing beats being Mr. Feeny.

So back in October of 2013, months after graduating from college and on the brink of taking classes for the MCAT, I sat down and tried to logically explain what worked and what didn’t. And I came to the conclusion that it’s just not ONE thing that makes this profession suitable. It doesn’t boil down to passion. It stems from a myriad of factors including my likes, dislikes, and job expectations. And when all of that was taken into consideration, I just knew. Regardless of how long this process will take, nor how many hoops I need to jump through to get there, this is what I want to be when I grow up.

<3 A.