Well, it all started when my dad (Papi) said: “When you grow up, you can be anything you want, except be a doctor.” That’s all it took, and within a few years I was walking around looking like this:
But let’s rewind many, many month to my college orientation…
I bravely put together my first semester of college classes after declaring myself an “Aerospace Engineering” major (HAHA!). Then my life flashed before my eyes, and three seconds after imagining myself stuck doing four years of physics, I walked–no–I ran straight to the “General Studies” office, undid everything the engineering adviser had just spent the last couple of hours doing, and signed up for the most random conglomeration of classes ever (anthropology, sociology, etc., etc.). Long story short, the 12 hours I took during the fall of 2002 ended up not counting towards my eventual (and final) decision to get a degree in nutritional sciences–with the intention of then doing EXACTLY what Papi had told me not to do.
When I told him that after a lot of thought I had decided, without a doubt, that I wanted to go to medical school, Papi responded with: “Pero porque??!” and followed by “No! You should be a WRITER!” ➔ the exact opposite of what 98% of fathers around the world would have said. His arguments were:
- You’re a woman… you’re going to want to have kids someday!
- Your beeper will go off at 4 am, and at the movies, and during dinner!
- You’re going to school in the United States… you can be ANYTHING. Why choose the most ancient of careers?
- You should be a WRITER.
- (Aaaand again) You’re a woman… YOU’RE GOING TO WANT TO HAVE KIDS SOMEDAY!
Ok. He’s a doctor himself, so I admit that he knows what he’s talking about. Though in all fairness, he works in Mexico, where the medical system is somewhat different and, for as long as I can remember, he’s carried a pager 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He’s had his fair share of being woken up at 4 am, watching only half of a movie, and not finishing his dinner. I can see why of all things, medicine was not the future he envisioned me pursuing. But I wanted nothing to do with any other career, and Papi eventually transitioned from feeling apprehensive to being supportive. I knew he was ok with it when he gave me my first (and very discreet) stethoscope, and taught me how to use it!
In my gut I knew I was meant to be a doctor too. Yet, I understood what his fears for me were. He knows, like no one else, how time-intensive this career can be. He knows about the miseries of medical school, about being tied to a pager, and about how easy it is to forget the things you love to do because there simply IS NO TIME FOR THEM. He knows.
So I resolved to be a “doctor on the side.” Please don’t misunderstand. I do not mean to say that being a physician will take a secondary place in my life. I not only committed to it, but committed to being a really good one! And to be honest, I can’t wait! Yet at the same time, I committed to not losing myself in the career. I committed to remembering the things that make me laugh, the things that get me thinking, the things that make me smile! Medicine will not be my life, but part of it. I committed to remembering the things that make me ME.
(And I’m hoping this blog helps keep me accountable… because after all, it’s easier said than done!)
The first step I took towards this new-found resolution was to bring things to a halt, and (with Papi’s permission… and money) put off applying to medical school by a year. While my over-achieving classmates were preparing for their first day in the anatomy labs, I was on a plane to Italy for the trip of a lifetime… I was on my way to pursue my dream of marveling at Michelangelo’s David, eating gelato in the piazzas of Rome, and seeing Tuscany on horseback! And pretty soon, I was walking around looking like THIS:
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! And there you have it!