Some people ask me why, at the age of 27, I want to put myself through a decade of medical training during which I’ll have little to no income and sometimes no sleep. I don’t know I can answer that question very convincingly, because it would sure as well be a lot easier to continue life as a data analyst, make a six-figure income and live happily ever after.
The truth is, I don’t really have a choice.
For the past two years, I’ve been fighting my desire to become a doctor. I’ve done everything I could to convince myself that it’s not the profession for me. I’ve scoured websites and forums looking for dissatisfied doctors who complain about everything from their working conditions to their pay. I even went so far as to watch a doctor practice in his office, hoping that I’d see something to turn me off. For a while, I was able to silence that voice inside that kept pushing me to go to medical school. And yet it keeps coming back.
I get extremely envious when I find out someone is a doctor. I try really hard to feign disinterest, to pretend they’re nobody special, lest I start gushing about much I admire them and their profession. I wish that there was some other profession that I could do that would make me happy without all the training and pain that medicine entails. The problem is, I’m not interested in a doing much else. I don’t to be a lawyer, do an MBA, or continue being a data scientist.
Ignoring this desire, while at the same time struggling to be interested in anything else, was killing me with depression. I’ve woken up many times this past year wondering whether I had anything to live for.
I’m convinced that in life, we have certain subconscious, innate desires and we don’t really have a choice but to pursue them. If you feel a calling to go to medical school and you ignore it for a long time, you’ll feel depressed. For you, it might be a calling to become a teacher, to have kids, or to travel to a certain place. We all have a mission or three in life, sometimes defying any kind of logic, but that’s the way it is.
Not every desire is conscious, and not every decision we make in life stems from a logical thought process. I would say that those kinds of decisions are exception rather than the norm. Our lives take on meaning when we accept and pursue our desires, even if they take a lot of work and sometimes a lot of pain to fulfill.
Today, I raise my glass to my need/desire to pursue medicine. At the same time, I’m raising my glass to your need/desire to run your own tech start-up, or own a new BMW, or to raise 8 children. We are who we are, and the sooner we acknowledge it, the sooner we can make progress towards being ourselves and fulfilling our desires. It’s being true to ourselves that makes us happy.