Feb 2016

Within one month of joining med school, I realized I had made a mistake. Within six months, I had been reassured by practically all my relatives that I would regret leaving. By first prof, eighteen months, I was miserably aware that I would get no support, practical or emotional, for my need to drop out. I spent third year in full tantrum, barely attending classes or submitting any work. I had picked up a part time job in the beginning of fourth year, as a recruiter for a tech company, and amazed myself by getting through the second set of professional exams. By final year, I had decided to complete medicine, had actively reached out to several professors and senior industry managers to discuss options. I was told (when people took me seriously) over and over again that there were no real options for a medical student to shift tracks to more technical fields. I was aware bioengineering was a hot field, but at the time there were no formal tracks to study the subject.

I remember feeling frozen, my mind scrabbling to find some acceptable option. I would numbly go about the motions of my day, aware that I had only one year to complete the degree, having already invested 4.5 years. And so, like an automaton, I completed the bare minimum required from me, slowly counting the hours, the days and weeks till I was done. I couldn’t visualize myself three months into the future, my mind would blank to dark screen, and I remember feeling directionless.

And so when I had the opportunity to take the GRE and GMAT in addition to USMLE, and then try to figure out US college admissions on my own, and then actually attend MBA classes, I felt born again, alive again. For the first time, I actually appreciated the lectures, and exercises for homework, the concepts and challenges. I felt my brain screech and groan as the rusted gears and chains locked and moved again. The taste of choosing something in which I was interested was soul satisfying. I would wake up each morning full of energy and drive, fully engaged and enthusiastic and grateful. Grateful that I had the chance to do what I wanted, give it my best shot, and enjoy success or bemoan failure, but own it all.

No one who has experienced both these levels, the low of frustration and displacement, and the high of fulfillment, would ever ask why I am always so passionate about what I do. I can’t imagine not taking the time to decide exactly what you want to do, how to spend each moment and then working towards the goal. I have worked as a Pizza Hut delivery driver, washed dishes, made dough, telemarketed, lived in a tiny apartment all by myself, with a MBBS degree from one of the leading medical colleges, high scores in GRE and GMAT, in that stubborn insistence to follow my dream. And I would do it all again if I needed to.

So no, I don’t understand what “make do” means, or “chalta hai”. One is either doing something or not, full throttle or not, living or not.

©alka

alkaessay

Why be so intense?
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