“Good afternoon sir”
“Our doctor! how is school?”
An awkward silence ensues. On a good day, I’ll spend minutes justifying my decision to leave med school. On a not-so-good day, I’ll answer: “school is fine, thank you.”Besides, if anything, med school gave up on me, so I left (finally!).
Everything changes when you change your degree, and hence, career path. “What do you want to specialise in?” suddenly becomes “so, what are you going to do now?” You often become defensive when being harmlessly queried about your decision.
My reply always adds sourness to their seemingly masked disappointment. “Oh that’s interesting.” sounds like code for “really? how are you going to make money?” or “what are you going to do with such a degree?”. Or maybe I have become cynical. For these reasons, I have over the past two years, proactively avoided conversations with some relatives, friends and family friends.
Most people are encouraging about it, and even if they weren’t, why should it matter? What fuels the need to seek validation for our decisions? Maybe people’s opinions are the checks and balances of our judgements. It is strange not being on that grind anymore but I have not missed it. Of course, the regret of wasted years pursue my day-to-day but it is not unexpected. It is human nature to long for what is lost.
“Why are we here?” marks its territory in my mind. A thousand motivational quotes and trite coping mechanisms lay siege on my dejection. Sometimes they win, sometimes they are conquered. The need to make money as one ages; provide for one’s family; and repay one’s parents for their labour of love, are permanent fixtures in my musings. These things are not peculiar to anyone; I suppose we all deliberate such concerns, some of us more than others.
By December next year, I will be writing my last exam as an undergraduate. I think of the day just over two years ago, when I agonised and decided to heck with it, as I wrote that long desperate forlorn email to my dad, and I marvel that I’m one year away from concluding this ‘new’ chapter. The torment of having stayed at home for six months waiting for something to happen is now unrecognisable.
Regrets persist and I have learnt to accept them for what they are: regrets. “We can’t change the past” is an exhaustive truth, but a truth nonetheless. There’s a spring in my step; it will often reach its elastic limit when melancholy and the stringent force of mediocrity fall upon me. But that’s okay, I guess. The darkness of the night does not affect the brightness of sunrise.
Thank you to everyone that has followed this blog over the years, for reading my poetry and occasional prose – the good and the terrible.
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