How It Felt To Finally Drop "The PreMed Track"

How It Felt To Finally Drop "The PreMed Track"

Sometimes it is really hard to decide what you want to do with your future.
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I think something that many students struggle with is deciding what they want to do with their life. Specifically, with their career. Deciding this is a daunting task and something that I personally believe schools and parents do not necessarily prepare you for. How are you supposed to decide at 18 what you are going to do till you retire at 65? Choosing your major and career path in college is scary and something that I definitely struggled with.

Going into college, I had no idea if I wanted to do nursing or psychology or be premed. I was interested in all of those fields and I could not make up my mind as to which one I wanted to pursue more. Thus, as a freshman, I became a psychology major and put myself on the premed track. This meant I was taking science classes that would aid me on my MCAT exam along with my psych courses. It seemed like I had everything together.

I went through my freshman year of college taking both sets of classes only realizing at the end of the year that I was still confused about which path I wanted to take. I say I was confused, however, now looking back I think I was more scared. I was scared because in my heart I knew what my choice was. I knew what I wanted to pursue and what I genuinely enjoyed learning about. However, I was scared to allow myself to choose that option because I knew that my indecisiveness was the only thing that was protecting me from accepting my truth. I carried this fear all through the summer before my sophomore year of college, until I simply couldn’t lie to myself anymore.

A week into my sophomore year of college, I had a complete breakdown. I was trying to read my molecular and cellular biology textbook and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t care about what I was reading about and I kept asking myself why I was putting myself through this. Why was I forcing myself to take classes that I didn’t want to take? Why was I forcing myself to be something that I knew in my heart I wasn’t? Why was I doing this? The answer to all of my fears lied in a simple word: expectation.

There is a great deal of expectation, specifically with Asian immigrant parents that their children become doctors and engineers and lawyers because those jobs are stable and rewarding paycheck wise. Although my parents have never directly said this to me, I knew it was their dream to see me become a doctor. Their expectations were what I was so scared to let down. I was scared I would disappoint them with my choice to not be premed and intern, not be a doctor. I was so scared to tell them how I really felt that it took me almost two years to build up the courage to talk to them.

I remember bawling my eyes out in our car, trying not to look my dad in the eyes when I said that I just wanted to be a psychology major and that I was struggling in my premed classes. I was prepared for the worst. I was prepared to get yelled at and told that I was stupid and that I was disappointing them on all levels. However, to my surprise, my dad calmly said that he wants me to be happy and if premed does not give me that then I should not waste time in a field I have no interest in. My mom was equally as supportive saying that all she wants is for her kids to be happy. I was completely speechless. My parents are the type of parents that give you tough love and do not really care if what they say hurts your feelings. So, knowing how my parent’s operated, I was so shocked that they were so okay with my transition away from premed. I was so shocked that I even asked them why they weren’t upset and why they weren’t yelling at me. They said simply that I gave premed my best effort and if I am that miserable taking those classes, then no parent wants their kid to suffer like that.

I write this article to emphasize that college is your time to figure out what you want to do in your life. Do NOT pursue something just because your parent’s want you to or because you think it will make them happy in the long run. Because their happiness won’t matter if you wake up every single day of your career hating what you do and wishing you had pursued your passion. I am so incredibly grateful that I have parents who were supportive of my decision, but I know that not everyone is as lucky. Talk to your parents and make them understand what you want in life. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself like I was for so long. At the end of the day, this is your life and you deserve to pursue whatever career you believe will give you the most fulfillment in your life.

Cover Image Credit: 59th Medical Wing

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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