My name is Muskaan. I am currently 16, and am battling with this oh- so-daunting question that everyone seems to be bombarding me with nowadays: What do you want to be when you are older? I am from India, where many young people like me are ‘manufactured’ into doctors, by their parents, relatives and the unreasonably high and stress-inducing standards they (and sadly, sometimes society) force themselves to keep. I am lucky enough to have parents that have embraced my (very indecisive) career changes: from a ‘fairy princess’, to a fashion designer, then a psychologist, but finally, I inexplicably find myself drawn to the wonders and variation of medicine.
There was a time in my life where I hated science. When I miserably failed a science test, I vowed to myself that I would never ever even consider becoming a doctor, as my mum and I had had some vague conversations about this strange concept of the ‘future’ before. Doctors were boring. They did the same thing every day: all science, no fun. Just talking and
writing scribbling repetitively.
Miraculously, in year 10, when we started doing real GCSE science (rather than just pretending to be the particles in a solids liquids and gases), I suddenly started to look forward to my science lessons! I absolutely loved it, but still didn’t want to be a doctor. Why? Even I don’t quite know the answer to that.
Then rolls along Year 11. It was a hot, summer Friday afternoon. I had just eaten a very large and satisfying lunch of fish and chips- which I really appreciate as a speciality of my school- and was suffering from a serious case of lethargy. I had finished all the coursework I needed to do in that Health and Social lesson with 45 minutes to spare, so I decided to check my emails. I had received one from our careers advisor about a programme run by Medic Mentor. It was about psychology, which is what I was interested in at the time. When I clicked on the link, however, for reasons unknown to me, I was drawn to the Medicine part of the page. It looked good! I emailed my parents the link, hoping they would agree to book a place.
Then I researched a lot about doctors. What do they do? What CAN they do? How much do they get paid? (those results made me shamelessly happy) Then I came upon the entry requirements and competition for places. I have always set my bar high, but for the first time, I felt that the bar was too high, unreachable, on another dimension of existence. There was a lot to look forward to, but the immense amount of work needed to get to the pot of gold on the other side (of the rainbow?) intimidated me.
I almost forwarded the psychology link on Medic Mentor’s website to my parents saying that I had accidentally sent them the wrong one to medicine before, but then I thought to myself: I love science. I love that warm, fuzzy (a little bit cheesy) feeling you get inside after helping someone. Some people have told me I am a ‘born doctor’. Should I really just shun the idea without taking a good look at it? I sent them the psychology link, but I said that I would like to attend the medicine one. This action surprised me momentarily, but I didn’t think too much of it because I just felt like it would just be another fun day out in London for me to make the final decision that medicine was not for me.
I could not be more wrong! The best things in life happen unexpectedly. During that weekend with Medic Mentor, I realised that this saying is 100% true! I went and I came back a changed girl. Excited by medicine. Inspired by medicine. Ready for medicine. All I came back asking myself was why did I ever NOT want to be a doctor? The competition, the stress, the requirements and the work were still intimidating, and still are (very much so sometimes), but I know deep down that it is all worth it even though it might not seem so at the time.
I still struggle today with fear of the work, doubts on my own ability to cope. I often question if it is still what I am intent on doing. Sometimes the answer is no! Run in the other direction! Save yourself! But when the answer is yes (which thankfully, it is most of the time) I remember that I can’t wait to help people. I can’t wait to make a difference. I can’t wait to change their lives with medicine, and I can’t wait for my own life to be changed with medicine!
By Muskaan Jonathan