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“When you were a little kid, what did you want to be? No eight-year old ever said, ‘I want to grow up and do surgery on the ass,’ or ‘I want to be a penis doctor,’ or ‘I want to pop pimples for a living.’ Somewhere along, their values, their dreams got compromised.” Don’t compromise your dreams.
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I hate pre-meds. There, I said it. Only problem is, turns out, I am one. I fought it for the longest time. Didn’t take the second semester of general chemistry Freshman spring because I was set on deluding myself that I could find something else as compelling and as interesting as I found biology and medicine. But mostly because I hated the pre-meds.
I hated how secretly competitive they were, how they only cared about their organic chemistry class because they needed an “A” to get into medical school, how they forced themselves to volunteer at the hospital, to work in the lab, for the sole purpose of writing these things down on their AMCAS application. How they referred to their med school application as the AMCAS application.
And then I realized I was just describing everything I feared about myself and what I might become. I took organic chemistry and found it interesting, but at the same time I worried about my grade. Was I a pre-med? I tried to volunteer at DHMC for the sole purpose of having it on my application. Did that make me a pre-med? I watched Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs…and liked it. Did that make me a pre-med? I’m so scared of “being a pre-med” that I don’t take the time to stop and think about anything. And when I distance myself from the future, from all crazed ambition and pre-medness, I realize…I truly love science. I was meant to be a scientist. I love puzzles, but more than that I love solving them. Putting the last piece in place. But really, it’s not even that. Mostly it’s the mad fury that the puzzle instills in me as the pieces start to make sense and I work harder and harder and things fall into place and I frantically work harder, losing sleep trying to get it to fit, until finally, everything falls into place, I breathe a sigh of relief and look at the tacky work of art I have just created for a few moments…and then I think about buying a new puzzle.
Savoring one’s accomplishments is important. But so is not “resting on one’s laurels.” It is hard to find the balance between never being satisfied and being satisfied too early or too easily, and I am still trying to find it. But I think a quiet smile, a few deep breaths taking in my victory, and okay, maybe a quick call home to mom and dad to bask in my accomplishments, and that’s enough. I am ready to tackle the next project.
Medicine to me is this fascinating combination of science and communication and puzzles and people. All things I love. Communication is a puzzle in itself. In the ESL tutoring program at Dartmouth, I noticed how the simple fact of being able to convey information to another vastly improves one’s confidence and self-assurance. Sitting and chatting with students like Tina, a fourth-grader from a big family who had recently moved to New Hampshire from China, made me realize what a beautiful puzzle communication is. And how difficult it is. Not only do we need the right words, but we also need the right body language, to smile at the appropriate time, to look someone in the eyes and laugh if it’s supposed to be funny…but it’s astonishing how quickly all these memorized rules fall away once you make a connection with someone. And I try and make that my goal: to connect with everyone I talk to. To see the story behind their words and their actions. I am a shy person and have a hard time remembering all the occasions on which I must smile and nod, but once we connect, everything becomes fluid and the rules and conventions are swept away by the current, leaving simply two people who understand one another.
I don’t think I know who I am. I keep coming up with extravagant ideas about who I want to be, who I want to become, but it seems that I rarely acknowledge that I actually exist here, NOW. And when the THEN is the NOW, it never seems the same, it’s never as good as it was going to be, so onto the next. I go clothes shopping…I don’t buy clothes that I like, most of the time – I buy clothes for the persona that I am wanting to transform into at the moment. Right now, the persona alters between being sick and needy and needing treatment and support and being a strong, always on-the-ball, immaculate scientist and future physician. It seems like there’s no path for just me…A lot of things I do, I feel like I am forcing myself to do in order to attempt to become that next persona goal…
Which is why I have to think about medicine and my career and how this all ties into everything else at some point. Do I want to get into medical school so that I can get into medical school? Or do I want all that lies beyond it? I am quite sure it is the latter, but I can deceive myself sometimes. Trick myself into thinking I want something, until the day comes when I actually have to do it. But how do you know if you like anything without doing it? I think it’s more of a letdown because nothing lives up to the ridiculous ideals in my head – because the thing is, my personality doesn’t change. And sometimes I don’t want it to, but other times I’m really not sure. Like, what would a “normal” (also, turns out I refer to people who aren’t myself as normal, which must mean I think I am abnormal) person do with an entire day to themselves? What kind of hobbies do “normal” people have? Or do they just sit at home and watch TV and I am actually better off?
Shuffling papers while he holds the phone to his ear and checks his email at the same time
So who am I? What am I? I like some things. I like my family. I like to read. I like to daydream. I like to plan. I like my cats. I like Carl. I like to be validated. I like to feel good about myself. I like to have finished projects, but I don’t like to actually finish them. I like people, but sometimes I don’t want to deal with them at the moment. I like hugs and new clothes. I love children. I wish I could dance. I like speaking foreign languages.
I wanted to be a “doctor” (what I thought a doctor was) for a long time. Other professions have slipped in and enthralled me from time to time – the multilingual businesswoman, the video game designer, the veterinarian – but when it comes down to it, they didn’t hold the same…level with me. I didn’t get that excitement rising up from the bottom of my stomach, like I do when I enter a hospital. The rush. I liked the principles of medicine. I liked having a problem and solving it. I liked learning about different molecular pathways and how they are all interconnected, slowly making the story whole. But I did not think I wanted to be around people that much. Can’t I be the doctor who doesn’t talk to anybody, just goes in, makes the diagnosis, leaves, does important things elsewhere. Now that image isn’t so appealing to me. I would miss the conversations. I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed shadowing in clinic. I liked the medicine, sure, but I really liked the doctor-patient interaction. In fact, I initially was considering doing MD-PhD or even just PhD, but now I really think I’ll be happiest with MD or MD-PhD….MD moresore, maybe, because I can start practicing earlier – I’ve already done my time in research, I feel like. Not that I don’t like it, but I don’t think I need to spend another year getting acquainted with another project before I can move on.
I get lonely, sometimes, by myself. Usually it’s fine…but late at night, I get lonely sometimes. It’s dark and there’s nobody here to give me a goodnight hug.
I honestly think I should write the stupid “the black snake lunged” story. For some reason poetry is a lot easier for me, probably because I don’t have to think through any kind of plot. I would really like to write a novel for NaNoWriMo though. But it’s so far away! But I need to develop an idea. I used to have so many ideas. Even if they weren’t good, at least they were there. Now I don’t know. It seems like everything I can think of has already been thought of. Maybe as a kid that didn’t hold me back and I wrote about it anyway, or I wrote about something even if it seemed stupid. I’m also suffering from some perfectionism…I want everything about the first long piece I write to be perfect.
I really like evil characters that you can’t hate. Maybe I need to start reading more fiction? But I feel like that would just confuse my ideas with their ideas even further. I don’t know. How do people do it? Should I create a world or just go for it in this world? But then I feel like it turns into a young adult novel. The Name of the Wind is so good. How do ideas like that get formed? I feel like you have to have some kind of divine inspiration, it’s ridiculous. Also, if I have another world, I will not do that stupid thing with money. I could not for the life of me figure out how much anything was worth and how many shavinters were in a shavanter and etc.
I think it would be cool if cats actually had the personalities I think they do
I think it would be cool if music is involved in the magic? I don’t really like the wand system of magic, I really do like the “trees” system of magic, of slipping backward into the weavings of the universe and being able to manipulate it. Those would have to be the best kind of magicians, the ones who could slip between the threads…They could use them like a violin, to play music…kind of like how that guy on Ink has the beat of the world. A “thread-runner” or something like that, but with a less ludicrous name. A ‘seminary’ to study magic? How do they learn it? I don’t think everyone should know about it…it probably should be just in the world and only certain people know…can see the golden threads of the universe. “It was beautiful.”
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