Sunday, February 28, 2010
You can't please everyone.....
...... especially not my father.
I just had a huge fight with him tonight. I mean, we were really, really yelling at each other. I don't like disrespecting my parents, but I'm really bad at biting my tongue and staying quiet when I feel like I should be defending myself. It all started when he, while asking my brother about why he missed church, mentioned how neither of us had "any type of clear career path". Me? The same "me" who has a degree from a tier 1 university? The same "me" who has worked up from intern to coordinator at my current organization in less than a year? The same "me" who has been gainfully employed since graduating and is actively applying to medical school??? Comparing me to my brother; who has yet to finish his undergrad degree, get a job, or pay for anything he owns himself at 27; is quite laughable and downright ridiculous.
My dad does this a lot. He makes me feel bad about not going to medical school right after graduation (in 2006). What makes it worse is that I changed my major half-way into undergrad and went from physiology/neurobiology to public health (which was tantamount to me saying "mom and dad, I'm dropping out of college and, by the way, I'm pregnant"). He told me tonight that my life "was over" (at 26, right?) and that I was "Going nowhere" as my peers "lapped me in achievement" and that at 26 I "have nothing to show for it". He then proceeded to name the numerous cousins and children of family friends who had either started or finished residency and who were now either getting married or buying homes. FYI: If a Nigerian woman is over 27 and not in residency, PhD candidacy, or married, she is a failure. Ask anybody (Nigerian). I have one year left before I become part of the dregs of society.
I did mention I'm Nigerian, right? If you know anything about Nigerians, or foreign parents in general, you'll know that they have very high standards regarding education. For me and my cousins as well as Nigerian/Indian/Chinese/foreign friends, we all know that if you're not a doctor, engineer, or pharmacist, you might as well go kill yourself right now because you are all but worthless in our communities. Of course I don't agree with this; not every single Nigerian I know is an MD, PharmD, or PhD, but there are quite a few; I'd say about 60% of my friends. Oh, did I mention both my parents are also surgeons?? Yeah, so there's no "do your best, honey" because my best has to be better than their best... at least that's how they measure success.
Now, I know I haven't taken a direct path to medical school, but damn it, I'm trying! I'm working hard finishing pre-reqs and I am trying. It's very difficult for me to see my peers graduating pharmacy school and medical school, heading off to residency and not feel left behind. I'm going to be 27 soon, damn near 30 and I feel unaccomplished. I want to be on par with those around me.
I'm not pursing medical school just to please my parents, as so many people think and freely suggest as the reason why I say I want to be a doctor (I fucking hate that). I seriously feel that there is no way I'll be happy or fulfilled with my life unless I'm a physician. I love science and medicine. I read medical journals for fun. I love learning about rare diseases and I get a thrill when I identify diseases before doctors do on TLC's "Mystery Diagnosis" series. I want the opportunity at that one-on-one interaction with a patient. I see the way my parents are with their patients and I admire it greatly. Plus, I've always wanted to be able to say, "trust me; I'm a doctor..." ☺
I took a practice MCAT yesterday with Princeton Review and I finally decided to take the July exam after putting it off for so many years. I admit it: I've been afraid of applying to medical school; I have been afraid of what would happen if I didn't get in. What would my parents say? What would my friends say? A lot of people expect me to be a doctor, especially because my parents are doctors (why could they be bus drivers or garbage collectors? not that there's anything wrong with that, but damn, I wouldn't have to aim so high).
I know I'm not exactly a dinosaur, but can't help but feel old (by African standards) when I look at people my age and see what they are up to compared to myself. Nevertheless, I still find encouragement in others pursuing the same career path as me and some who are doing it later in life. I know all is not lost; I can still do it.
I'll let you all know how it goes...