Sunday, 22 June 2014

What Do I Do?


In a few hours my HPAT results come out.

In a week I lose the ability to change my mind regarding course choices.

Even though I've been heavily fixated on getting into medicine for the past year, I'm not sure if it's definitely what I want to do.

When I think of medicine as a career I think of Grey's Anatomy. Running around hospitals, listening to The Fray at the end of each shift, having sex with other members of staff. And only one of those appeals to me. I also think of money. My mother's friend owns his own practice and made a million last year. I'm currently wondering if that matters to me. I've started caring a lot less about life. Material things don't mean as much to me as they used to. I'm only ever happy these days because of other people. Something that consumes my life for the next twelve years, and possibly thereafter, won't leave me with a lot of time to see people. Or spend money.

I read Trainspotting for the first time a few months ago. Probably the worst time I could have chosen to read that particular book. Welsh makes an excellent point through one of his characters, Mark Renton: a lot of what people do is done to impress other people. If you don't care about what other people think, then what reason do you have to want a high-paying job, or to own a big car, or a house to fit your expensive furniture into? I'm not sure of the extent to which I actually care about others' opinions and whether or not I should allow that to be a factor in how I live.

A frighteningly large number of med students/doctors kill themselves. I can understand why. Right now I am lonely. I am bored. I need more organisation in my life. And I'm hoping that college can fix it all. But what if it doesn't? What if I'm still unhappy, but also sleep-deprived and have even less contact with other people? The kind of people typically attracted to a career in medicine are nothing like me. Some of them really care. They're visibly compassionate. They make good doctors. I am not one of these people. Throughout this debilitating period of unemployment I could have been hanging out with elderly people. Or helping to rescue wounded animals from neglectful alcoholic owners. But I stayed on 4chan. And wrote creepy blog posts about Sigourney Weaver.

There's also a lot of applicants who aren't attracted to this career but are pushed towards it. They have rich graduate parents that have been conditioning them to have more ambition than everyone else. It's important for their parents' image. Some of them are ok. I could never identify with them, but they're ok. Some of them have never had to consider other perspectives. Their privileges have been there regardless of their treatment of other people. They'll probably ask me personal questions about my family and then tell me all about the successes of theirs.

I don't want to be an exception amongst anybody.

Perhaps I'm wrong, though. Let's say the other students are great. They love my abortion jokes. They're orphans. They want their lives to be like Scrubs. Will I enjoy the course?

This is where I'm struggling. I'll probably be behind during premed. My scientific knowledge has grown patchy. It will annoy me, but not as much as other students will be annoyed by not being the best. Beyond the first year, ground will level. It will be fine. But am I content with 'fine'? Is there some other course that I can do instead that I know I will enjoy?

I'm trying to answer that question. There's nothing I love. The closest thing I've got is writing. I could study English. But there are people more talented than I'll ever be who can't live off their words. I'll probably end up as a teacher. And you can't get a job as a teacher in Ireland unless you're Catholic/are willing to pretend you're Catholic. I've thought about different areas of technology. But I'm not sure if I still enjoy learning about technology or am afraid of letting go of what was a large part of my teen years. I don't play video games anymore. I probably wouldn't be able to identify what model your phone is. I'd probably hate it.

After that I have no idea. I'm considering careers I've never even briefly thought about before. I think this is what they call a quarter-life crisis. I don't want to make the wrong decision now because I might never be able to correct it. Maybe I'll get a terrible score later on and be forced to change my mind. It could be the best thing that's ever happened to me. I could end up choosing a different career path this week that leads me to like-minded people, and money. And happiness.

Or maybe none of this matters. If I ever got a job doing something I loved I'd probably grow to hate it. Like everybody does.

Life is just waiting for time off.


  1. The quarter-life crisis is real. What is most upsetting is when everyone around you seems to be just fine with the expectations placed on us at this tender age of self-realization. Many people my age are finishing their lives as individuals in my opinion. They're having babies, getting married--not at all getting properly acquainted with the awkward pound of flesh they've been using for the last 24-25 years.

    I've not figured out the remedy as I too share your plight--although, I've found that the best pacifier is to do things you didn't plan on doing. This is going to sound cheesy, but that's because it is. The problem is complacency and routine, if you do shit that doesn't typically fit into your order of things, you start to let go more and less things get to you. I'll be honest, it isn't a fool-proof idea, just a suggestion.

    1. I don't think most people are plagued with this kind of inner turmoil. I'm nothing special but I've noticed other people having lower levels of self-awareness. Most people are content with simply going through the motions of life.

      I agree with you about complacency and routine. I'm trying to let go of this rigid mindset. I think I'd be much happier if I was more willing to let go.

  2. Making a living from writing isn't purely about talent (although you may be more talented than you think). Having something interesting to say is equally important. Ever thought of getting into journalism?

    1. I have considered journalism. I've also considered the desire to have a stable income. I would be very fortunate to find myself in a position where any literary career could provide that. And I'm not sure of whether or not I really have anything to say yet.

  3. There is the old saying "suck it and see". Actually, I'm not sure if it is that old or if it came about after Fishermen's Friends were invented. Anyway, the point is, sometimes you have to give things a go before you can work out what you feel about them. If you started the training and then realized you hated it what would you lose by pulling out? A year or two? How much more would you lose by sticking with something blindly, even though you hated it? Potentially your entire life. There's nothing wrong with being unsure. There's nothing wrong with giving things a go to find out. There's definitely nothing wrong with changing your mind later. That's very much your prerogative.

    1. In my latest post I explained that I will definitely not be studying medicine. But I'm cool with it.

      As regards my fears: When I finished school I ended up scoring very highly in my exams. For that reason I was offered a scholarship. I was permitted to defer the use of that scholarship, as at the time I was unsure of what career I wanted to pursue. That period of deferral has ended as they gave me up until this year to make the decision of which course I was going to take. If I don't go to college this year I lose the scholarship, and that's an awful lot of money to just throw away. If I choose a course and drop out, I also lose the scholarship. Financial issues are putting me under as much pressure as indecision is.