Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Jealousy

My roommate from first year got into med school. I know about it because of facebook. And I am wildly, nonsensically jealous of her.

This doesn't make any sense, it's not like I've ever expressed a desire to get into med. It's not like I was trying at the same time she was and I didn't get it. It's not like anything. It doesn't make any sense. And the only reason I can think is that she is- and was- a Pretty Girl.

I think more than anything I still want to be one of them. I want to rewrite my past so I was tall and had boobs in the 8th grade, so I was athletic and popular and still smart, so I got all those awards for having the highest social studies grade and be a three or four star athlete. I want to change it so that I figured out makeup somehow and figured out clothes and came to my adult life looking like the girls who look put together every day.

There's not even an excuse for me anymore. I could do all those things, I know that. This isn't my old roommate's fault; she was always very hardworking and I'm sure that this was no exception. She deserves good things and I'm happy for her. She isn't a bad person. And I could be one of Those Girls too, if I wanted, I could let go of my inhibitions about everything in life and start wearing makeup and dressing myself nicely and fuck, I don't know, going out to drink?

I feel like maybe there's also a lot of pressure on me to want to go into med. My dad is a physician, and I'm doing lab work in a medical science lab, and I guess the other lab I was in was medical science too. I have good grades and a desire to help people and I'm interested in biology and health research. I still feel like I could do it... it I wanted to. Do I want to? I don't know. I do want to do a master's degree, or a Ph.D. I do want to work in science. I've considered a job outside of academia, in industry. I've considered programs to become a genetic counselor and a cytogenetic technologist. I don't really know what I want to do.

And med always looks so impressive- just like law or dentistry would too, I'd imagine. But med always seems to take the cake. Everyone has such high respect for doctors (rightfully so), everyone knows medical school is hard to get into and hard to complete and that a life of work as a doctor is challenging and demanding but also rewarding and part of that reward, I think, is being judged very positively in your community for your vocation. I can't lie and say none of that appeals to me. But I think I need to make a career choice based on the fact that I love the work I am doing and it feels important and rewarding to me. But it still feels like I'm always going to be ranked against my peers that went into med.

I have friends that want to get into med (and I have no doubt they will). Redbeard wants to get into med (and again, no doubt). These people are all smart and talented and hardworking- just like my first year roommate. Just like me, I hope. But I feel like no matter what I do, especially at this point in my life, it's never going to look as impressive. That people will judge them as smarter and more talented and harder working than me (and consequently all the other kids who don't do med or any professional program but instead do research or go into industry, or even teaching, which I guess counts as a professional program of sorts anyway). There's such prestige associated with getting into med, and that's what I want.

It feels stupid but it's human, and I know that. It's human to want to be praised and thought of as a good, smart kid- I want the things I do to reflect well on my parents, too, even though I know it's not my job to make them look good by having their offspring succeed. I know my dad would be happy that one of his kids followed in his footsteps. I know my parents would be able to help me since they're both involved in health careers.

I just... I think about medicine. I think about learning about the body and how it works, and that seems cool. I think about applying that to actual people, and... ick. I think about long days and charts and paperwork, and billings. I know my dad loves his job. I don't think I've ever heard of or met a doctor who didn't love theirs. I just don't know if it's for me and I feel like there's so much pressure on me to keep that option on the fence all the time.

Sometimes I wonder if arts degrees are appealing for that reason. Because maybe if I just got an English degree instead, everyone who knows what my dad does would shut up about asking me if I want to get into med. I know these people mean well, I'm not mad at them, they're certainly not trying to offend. But god, I'm so tired of getting asked and having to answer. They don't react one way or the other when I tell them maybe or just plain out "no, I don't think so." But I can never fully commit one way or the other and it feels like there is always some kind of silent pressure on me to swing towards yes, and I think it's because I'm in a field that's so close already. Do you know how many times in first year I heard biology majors say they wanted to go into med? It's like half the program here has their heart set on being doctors. It's insane.

I think the jealousy too is that like- the hardest part is over, and I think a lot of people would agree with me on that. In med, you have classmates and instructors who want you to stay in the program and will help you out. Once you finish, you can get a job anywhere you want, and it will pay well. You barely have to plan your life out anymore. And that- that- is what I think is most tempting. The security- not just financially, but like, in terms of thinking. I'm sitting here wondering, is it worthwhile to get my masters and then my PhD, or should I just get a PhD, but will that even be useful? Should I bother doing special training programs for biotech? I think I want to work in industry for a while because I like the idea of applying results more than just generating them, like in academia. But what if I take those courses and get in there and hate it? But in academia you have to be so much to the community, you have to teach and research and be involved... Like, if I was just in med, I could just say "all right, now I can just focus on the next two years of class. Then, I can just focus on the two years of"... fuck, is it residency? I don't know how med school works. Then the big decision is specializing, and getting through that training, and more residency, and then you have to start out and deal with hurdles like that but then you just... keep... working. And it feels like you get like built-in job security because we always need doctors. And if you're something special like a highly trained surgeon your job is high stress and high reward and you will always been in demand. Always. Whereas in industry... I'll be competing forever.

I've just had a really bad day, and everything sucks right now and I have one year of my degree left and I have NO IDEA what to do with my life. I know I should just concentrate on my classes and clubs and having a good final year and working hard and learning what I can from my research project. This year I was given opportunities to present which let me learn that I have some good presentation skills, even if they do need a little honing; with help, I was able to design really good, logical presentations and learned what should and shouldn't go into them and that you NEED TO MAKE GRAPH TEXT REALLY BIG and I actually had so much fun with that and felt so confident afterwards. I loved my research project. So maybe I am talented? Maybe? Maybe I'm good at writing too, even if that needs a little honing? I realized the other day when hearing that a program required 3 reference letters that I had at least 4 people I could ask who are all big fancy PhD people.

Maybe I'm doing something right after all??

I still wish lab jobs paid minimum wage, though.


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