I wanted to be a journalist. Like Rory Gilmore. Or Lois Lane. You know, running around after leads, protecting my sources, dealing with a slave-driving-but-loveable editor-in-chief.
(It probably says something about my dedication to journalism that I can only remember the names of fictional journalists.)
I love writing for writing’s sake just as much as covering a story. I love the hum of life in the newspaper houses I see on TV. The only newspaper house I’ve been to in Mobay isn’t nearly as hum-filled. That’s probably why I don’t feel the magic so much any more. Maybe I should go try the Gleaner’s Head Office in Kingston.
My point is that I love words. I love them all the more when they’re strung together with some kind of cohesion (unlike this post). And up until 2008, I was dead set on doing some degree in the Arts at UWI. So how did I end up, four years later, halfway through my MBBS? There’s really no one answer to that question.
Back in ’08 when Mummy was trying to be understanding about my passion for writing despite her passion for seeing her daughter in a paying job, she dug up some career options I’d have if I pursued a degree in the Humanities Dept. She had looked at Political Science degrees (with which I’d be working at the UN by now), language degrees, and other things that I forget because they really weren’t that interesting. Pol Sci was really the only thing that grabbed my attention. And journalism. But, my mother argued, you won’t make any money doing that. Your grades are so good, she pleaded, why can’t you just do medicine like you wanted to when you were eight?
Ordinarily, I would have stubbornly clung to my starving artist future, but I was really undecided. I had the grades to do medicine, I thought, so doesn’t that make me obligated to do it? Shouldn’t everyone who can, do? What did passion matter in the face of opportunity? These questions kept me up at night for months.
In the end I gave in to my mother. And aunt. And friends in the science path who wondered what took me so long. And my own guilty conscience. Because I felt I had a duty to live up to my “good” science grades, because a medical degree practically guarantees a solid future, and because being a doctor meant saving lives instead of just writing about them. I dusted off my dream of becoming a forensic pathologist, which I’d shoved up on a shelf beside my dream of becoming a paediatrician (that dream is really far in the back), and I finished that school year, applying to do science subjects in C.A.P.E. the next year.
At first it was okay. My Arts friends felt slightly betrayed, but also unsurprised, as if they’d known that I never really belonged to them. I didn’t really make any friends in my new course either. I just wasn’t used to people my age. I finished my 2-year C.A.P.E. degree and got accepted to medicine (which is a whole other complicated story). And then the regret started.
All of a sudden, I knew exactly what I would have done had I continued on my Arts course. A Literature degree, obviously. And then I’d work minimum wage jobs at a publishing house, climbing through the ranks until I made editor-in-chief or branched out to start my own publishing company.
In my first year of medical school, this future-that-could-have-been appeared so clearly that it practically blind-sighted me to everything else. My first summer in med school, I was on the verge of dropping out, working for a year to pay off student loans and then going back to UWI to study Literature. I was in tears most of the time, fighting with myself over job security or job satisfaction (not that you can’t have both). But, once again, I was talked out of it. This time by KT, thank god, because I doubt anyone else could have said anything to convince me otherwise.
Since then I haven’t had any serious relapses. I live vicariously through my friends who actually have Literature Degrees, and I write as much as I can. It helps that I actually enjoy medical school, and that I wouldn’t change the two years for anything, and that I’m looking forward to helping people in the near future.
But I still have dreams about the life I could have been having if I’d been a little more stubborn.