Easier said than done.

So I implied a couple of days ago that it would be my last post before going on vacation and then starting medical school, but I realized this is probably also my last chance to honestly write about how I am still scared that this isn’t the right choice for me. Amongst apartment hunting and packing for vacation (and watching reruns on the WB), I’ve pretty much managed to avoid thinking about it as much as possible, but I finally brought it up with Guy a few nights ago.

Me: So, I know neither of us really has a cemented place to live yet and you don’t have a job or anything, but I’m still really worried about medical school.

Guy: What do you mean? You don’t mean the work, right?

Me: No, I mean clearly the classes will be hard, and I might not be in the right mindset about it so it might be difficult to study at first and I’ll probably do horribly on the first set of exams or something like that — but whatever, I can always pull that back up if that’s the case.

Guy: So you’re still worried that this isn’t the right choice.

Me: Well, yeah. And what with making you move down here and everything, and getting my parents’ hopes up …

Guy: Don’t worry about me. I mean, yeah, you made me quit my job a little earlier than I’d planned, but I’m going to get a better one, so that’s fine. And your parents would rather you be happy than be a doctor, unless those two coincide.

Me: I know. It’s just that it’s really coming down to it now. I really am going, and it really might not be right for me.

Guy: Well, you’re lucky enough that it doesn’t matter that much. You want to explore your options, so you’re doing so, and that’s good. And if you hate it and we get to move from Home State after only a year, so much the better. … Kidding.

Me: Ha. Ha. But if I figure out this isn’t right for me … if I realize that I don’t really want to be a doctor …

Guy: You’ll have no idea what else to do.

Me: Yes, that would be an accurate assessment of the situation.

Guy: Well, don’t worry about that until you get there.


Perceived, or imagined, pressure.

I’ve mentioned before that I can be over-sensitive. I think that’s why I felt like I was being pressured, from all sides, to apply to medical school. I don’t think all of this pressure was imagined, but a lot of it probably was.

For one thing, there were my parents. I’ve discussed my dad’s opinion in some length: basically, he has always thought my attending medical school would be a good idea, if for no other reason than to get some more higher education.

My mom similarly feels that higher education is always valuable. But more than that, she always wanted to be a doctor herself. Now, I would never become a doctor just to fulfill someone else’s dream, even my mom, to whom I owe more than anyone else I can think of. But she paints the medical profession in such a glowing light, as this ideal she could never quite reach herself, that it’s hard not to think she might be right and that being a doctor would be the best career for me, or for anyone for that matter.

My parents are my parents, and they’ve given me enough over the years that, while any pressure from them irked me, they kind of deserve that right. What bothered me more was the pressure (again, real or imaginary) I felt from people outside the family.

Like people within our community, family friends that I’ve grown up with for years. They always ask what I’m doing. A natural question, but for some reason I feel like they think that now that I’ve graduated I should have a magic formula for the rest of my days. If I tell them about my current job, which is not exactly challenging, they look at me like I’m a slacker. But if I add that I’m “taking a year off before I go to medical school,” they breathe a sigh of relief. Oh, medical school. That’s understandable. It’s as if they expect me to get my year of break over with as soon as possible, so I can get to my real career.

Sad to say, I always felt like my boyfriend of the time was pressuring me, too. The situation was more complicated because he began working in the summer, so he was definitely tied to his new location, whereas I was still deciding where to live in my year(s) off. A normal girlfriend — we had been dating for three years — would probably have lived with him, but I wasn’t ready for that. Nor was I ready for his steady stream of suggestions that I “volunteer at a hospital here,” or his suggesting I apply to the easy schools near him so I could up my chances of living there.

Re-reading this I sound kind of like a whiny little bitch. Oh, poor me, family friends ask what I’m doing and show an interest when I say I might pursue medicine. Poor me, my boyfriend wanted me to live with him. Like I said, a lot of this pressure was quite possibly all in my head.

But I think what bothered me was that nobody really encouraged me to take a break, or made me feel like it was okay to be indecisive about the future. I always came away from this type of conversation feeling guilty for taking a year off, as if I needed to get on with it already, as if choosing a career shouldn’t have been so difficult for me.

I shouldn’t have cared what those other people thought. Or should I have? They were important people in my life, should I have taken their feelings, their opinions into account? Or should I have said no, my career is just for me, and I’ll take just as long deciding about it as I need, thanks?

Whether right or wrong, I think I ended up choosing (am still choosing) the latter.