Today I was on the train back from work as my car was not available. And the only reason I say that is because I dislike being on the train. I don’t know about your part of the world, but in mine, the train is full of weird strangers that tend to start conversations about their fishing trips and recently deceased dogs. But also, the train is a place for noisy high school kids. Not my favourite mode of transport.
So today, while on the train, a couple of kids (from my high school, funnily) sat in the seat opposite me and started having a very loud conversation. After groaning inwardly that it’s Christmas break and so these kids should NOT be on my train, I tried unsuccessfully to tune them out. It seems Tom was trying to convince Isaac to come on year 12 camp with him in the new school year. “Dude it’s in March. We get to do kayaking this time” Tom said. A bemused Isaac replied “Yeah but it’s AS this year. My sister said it’s really hard. And we get points for uni from this year too”. For a moment I stared at Isaac. I thought to myself, when did I have such trivial worries? In the next instant I wanted to shake him.
To miss out on school camp with friends, because you’re worried about not doing well in Cambridge AS in year 12? At that moment I couldn’t imagine anything more ridiculous. Then I remembered how I was at that age. I had skipped a year at high school and was really intent on planning out my med school dream. But I thought about what I gave up in doing that. I had the sense to go to year 12 camp on persuasion by my friends.So thank goodness for that. But I did opt out of being part of the school play with my friends to “focus” on AS. And I remembered a lot of things from high school. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember my grades in AS. It just didn’t matter. Yes I ended up getting enough points for uni entrance, but beyond that, the actual scores were nothing for me. I mean, I hadn’t ever failed anything, but I was no A+ student either. Not even close. But at this point, no one cares about that. I wanted to tell this kid that.
When in year 12, I thought I’d get enough points to get into uni, do extremely well and get into med, then be a star pupil in med school and find the one specialisation I would excel at and pursue it and end up in my own hospital one day. Eugh. Even typing that out sounds so childish.
I realised my current position. I have had an incredibly awful year going through feeling like I was a failure. Everyone around me had a plan of what they wanted to do for a specialisation and were taking up research projects in that field etc. I felt hideously unprepared and felt like an oddball for not having a plan. And I’m no A+ med student either. So the high school “plan” is effectively gone.
It occured to me though, that I am 21. Not 31, and not 41. I’m still in med school. I’m still only a 4th year. There are doctors I met, in, or nearly in their 30s who aren’t sure of what specialisation they want to go into. But they’re not losers. I respect all of them as doctors and am sure they’ll do well in whatever they do end up choosing. They don’t seem to be panicking about their futures. So why am I? Let’s face it. Effectively I’m stuck in med school for the next two years. So no “planning” is going to change that at all. And when so much can change so easily – within a year, within a day, is there really any point stressing about a plan that may not even happen? I didn’t think so. Who’s to say the others will have their plans work out? Not that I’m wishing they don’t, but everything is in flux.
A classmate of mine is taking a year off med school to tour Europe. While me and some other classmates agreed we didn’t want to do that at this stage, I kind of envied her. What would it be like to care so little about the future? While I am so focused on completing my degree with no distractions, she’s doing something that’s always been on my bucket list. Would I ever get there? I hoped so. Taking each day as it comes. Facing the little choices everyday seemed more important.
I wished Isaac would go on camp with Tom. I wished that when I’m 41 and I see a med student on the train stressing about his/her specialisation choices and giving up friends or trips, I wouldn’t feel regret.