journey, Uncategorized

Don’t try to become a doctor

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the dream is out of reach

[I’ll write more about Friendzoning my Asian Heritage next time.]

If I could go back in time I would go back to three years ago and shake my younger self. I would tell her just 3 things:

  • Please don’t make awkward situations more awkward by stating the awkwardness.
  • Don’t try to flirt with that guy (its not worth it)
  • Most importantly, don’t try to become a doctor.

[*A bonus point, if I did get a few seconds before my time warp portal got absorbed by the universe, I would tell myself to stop shopping at Cotton On. You will only end up with a disposable wardrobe. And please stop wearing aztec leggings with a shirt that doesn’t cover your butt.]

Being well acquainted with my eighteen year old self I would have tried all the above whether I was visited by a wiser, heavier future self or not. I still would have thought my life was written in the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song and to this day I make it a point to comment on the air density and percentage of awkward it contains.

And I would have definitely still tried to become a doctor.

Contrary to stereotypical Asian parenting of wanting your child to be a doctor, accountant, engineer or lawyer, my mum didn’t plant these career ideals in my head. She was fairly opened minded, as long as it involved hard work. Unfortunately, I did all the planting myself and it would take me a mind-fracturing year to come to terms with the fact that I was a terrible gardener and all my ‘plants’ i.e. dreams would die due to lack of sleep, reading articles en route to class on the bus in a haze of motion sickness and listening to classical study music that I hated.

But I just wanted to be a doctor. It seemed to match my interests in my life and the subjects that I was good at in high school. It was my ultimate goal, and full of hope and confidence I enrolled in my classes as a pre med student.

It took me 3 days to realise that I had made a mistake.

Day 1: was admin. Despite older students telling us the first day wasn’t anything important, my friends and I all showed up half an hour early so that we could get a good seat. Turns out the rest of Auckland thought the same. Out poured the test dates, course outlines, telling you to get an expensive textbook and forewarning you that you are likely to use the counselling service. It seemed easy enough.

Day 2: the lecturer seemed to zip through everything from high school in under 5 minutes. We went through the structural organisation of the body, 11 body systems and their major components, levels of cell organisation and basic tissue types. I think I understood the word ‘body’ by the end of the lecture and gave myself a pat on the back.

Day 3: was just about the same amount of information, only this time it was more indepth about the different tissue types and the cells that make them. I sat next to the summa cum laude of a rivalling high school and I pretended to laugh at his banter and science jokes. It was like his own specialised grammar, for a language that I had never heard of. He was deeply emotionally connected to these cell types, and I was in awe at his indepth notes and sheepishly looked back at my half-asleep squiggles that had managed to barely stretch themselves over a page.


There were many Day 3’s that year. I sat next to him quite often, probably because I thought I could absorb his genius via osmosis. Obviously I didn’t understand how osmosis worked.

Needless to say he got into med school and I didn’t. We both got fatter though so I guess we all gained something from the experience.

Apart from weight, I gained some other notable things too:

-acceptance: that I can remember heartbreak like a fresh cut and I can forget body parts with a breath of air.

-gratitude: for my incredibly supportive, kind, forever cheerleading friends and family

-loss: you don’t always get what you want, no matter how much you want it.

-an experience of competition: Things are not that different to the Olympics. There will always be someone who will run faster than you despite your raw talent, work ethic, teachers and other resources.

-a knowledge: that sleep is important

-a realisation: that I needed a wider perspective, to other career and life paths

-and last but not least, an understanding: that God loved me, and didn’t care that I got a C- or not.

Okay maybe a little bit.

[disclaimer: I change identifiable information of the people.]


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