The earliest memory I can vividly recall is sitting in the waiting room of my father’s clinic, and instead of playing with the other children, I was drawing the floor plan of my future clinic. I had every detail set, from the color of the walls, to where the patient rooms would be. At age six, I was diagnosed with tonsillitis. Fascinated by my father’s ability to relieve my pain by performing an operation I would later know to be tonsillectomy, I followed him around in his clinic and accompanied his nurse. I’d sit on her lap as she scheduled appointments, met with patients and later on during the day when she would clean up, disinfect and arrange the instruments. I’ve always wanted to become a physician.
Childhood dreams are innocent-still untouched by society’s impurities- judgement, negative influences, adverse aspects of culture, fear, anxiety and prejudice. With time, all of these began to corrupt my dream. My vision was being clouded by the pollutions of society. This always reminds me when you’re driving behind a huge truck during heavy rain, and all of a sudden your windshield becomes so foggy and you need to use your wipers to see. There were many instances in which people advised me against pursuing my goal.
“But you’re going to be so old when you graduate!”
“So you’re gonna be 30 something when you’re done?!”
This was the first “concern” that I first came across. It was the idea of “being in school forever”. Even at such a young age during high school, friends and classmates were already counting down the years till they were done with school. I counted too. There were times when I did feel discouraged, but then that throbbing constant passion overwhelmed my young heart and I could care less about how many years I had left. This “concern” didn’t stop then. In fact, it became worse as we matured. Many classmates were done after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. Yet, here I was, still studying for exams, applying to schools, going to interviews. That feeling doesn’t end there. Even during medical school you see so many classmates opening businesses, working and getting a real paycheck, even traveling around the world. And where am I? Standing on my feet for 4+ hours during a surgery I am only allowed to observe and occasionally, maybe, help close the surgical wound at the end of the case. But what keeps me going? That desire; that burning passion, that longing for the sense of accomplishment. And that’s not all. I came to medical school with the purpose of pursuing knowledge and practice. In fact, as I plunge deeper into the bottomless world of medicine, the more I fall in love with it. I am in constant awe at the amount of information we learn daily. And as I continue my medical school education, I become conscious to the fact that medicine is a vast field, with no end. I realize that I have chosen a career dedicated to a lifetime of learning- that it is not about how many years I have completed and how many I have left. Sure, life is not just about taking exams and sitting in classrooms, but life is about learning. And if you engrave that belief in your mind and heart, you will never worry about “how many years you have left”.
“But when will you get married?”
I remember this conversation so clearly. It was my second year during undergrad and I was standing outside the library with a friend of mine. The concern on her face was striking. We had just finished discussing our plans for the future and she was distressed when I told her mine. She expressed true and honest worry. She even went so far as to determine the most appropriate year for me to get married- and definitely before 30. I think the reason why I still remember this conversation so clearly is that it shook me- even if it was for a couple of minutes. Because during those few minutes, I was contemplating on something I had no control over. I was writing my own timeline. And that was dangerous. First, you can’t write what’s already been written. Second, it was not in my power to arrange the date of my marriage or to really know when the “perfect time” would be. Most importantly, when you are determined on reaching your destination, these things won’t stop you or slow you down. Marriage is a wonderful thing, and I had to learn that it would happen on it’s own- without my calculations or forecasting.
To be continued.