Sunday, May 26, 2013

Intros and Outros

I was always labelled "gifted" as a child, a word that isn't used so much now that I'm an adult. I always had a voracious appetite for learning new things and reading new books. I wanted to know everything about anything.
As a kid, I read through the college reading lists in middle school, memorized entire movies and recited them aloud like plays to my sisters, made up complex kingdoms and worlds in the forms of golden childhood games, and wrote so many lists regarding history, linguistics, and science that I was famous for the hundreds of notebooks stuffed messily beneath my bed. I used to teach my siblings history classes, I directed and acted in dozens of self-made movies and comedic radio-style episodes, I wrote my own newspaper, I learned Japanese well enough to hold basic conversations in 2 months, and I had written 5 novels before I turned 15.
I still do a lot of these things, smoothed out now into being more productive, but no less fascinated and curious.

I'm 23 now.
So, what happened to that inquisitive girl? Did I end up going to a great school and graduating at the top of my class? Traveling the world? Am I now working at a glamorous, intelligent job? Published a book or two? Thinking of going to grad school?
Well, no, to any of those things. I didn't end up going to college.
I did a couple semesters at a local college, but I don't consider that any sort of university experience.
There are reasons that I didn't go, not in the form of beliefs but rather in the way that my life unfolded. For one thing, I was raised with the mindset that boys went to college and girls lived with their parents until they were married and became stay-at-home moms. I knew that I didn't agree with this, but neverthless, after graduating, I knew nothing about college. I had never heard of all the words that people freely tossed about: FAFSA, dean, admissions, freshman, transcript.
I took the SAT and got a 2220 out of 2400, but I didn't even know that it was even a good score until a few years later.
I decided which college I wanted to go to, and applied there and nowhere else. In an interview at the school, I was bewildered by questions that they asked. Credits? GPA? Honors? What the hell was this stuff? I must have seemed woefully ignorant.
Nevertheless, I was accepted to my dream school and moved there, but I didn't know that you had to register for classes (I assumed that you just showed up, I suppose). There were problems with my financial aid, and I had not the slightest idea how to sort them out. I missed a bill to the school – I had the money, but I didn't know how to get it to them, and I left it too long.
The problems kept building up, and then the lease on my sublet apartment ended. Impulsively, I packed a few of my things into a backpack and started walking. I walked until I was in a different state, and became a wandering street intellectual, doing little except read and write, filling my journal with idealistic philosophies and regret over leaving school.
I still desperately miss that school that I never got to attend, but I no longer regret leaving. I would be a different person if I hadn't, and I would never have met my longtime boyfriend.

After leaving the school of my dreams, I told myself that I would go back one day. Eventually, I realized that I never would. I had lost that school and started a different life in another state.
People ask me why I didn't go to another school, and I can't really give an answer. I just didn't. In some ways, I think that I felt I had given away that chance, that too much time had gone by, that I was too old to go back to school.
I still wrote essays and papers and short stories, studied new things, and read piles and piles of books each month. But school largely didn't occur to me.

Awhile ago, I began reading about medicine, offhandedly. I had always been interested in the human body and medicine (I wasn't allowed to learn much about it in high school, lending it a more mysterious quality), but I knew almost nothing about it, and I had never thought that I'd want to be a doctor.
But while reading some articles on cardiology, something happened. It was the same something that happened when I learned to read, or when a friend's mother brought over a stack of books on Ancient Egypt, when I wrote my first short story, rode a horse for the first time, read Borges, or was introduced to Cold War Kids. It's that magical, awestruck feeling that you've found something in the world to love, that will become a part of you.

I started hunting down more medical articles, even outdated ones. I was loving them, but I still wasn't thinking of any of it in the context of school. If someone had, right then, suggested that I consider medical school, I would have given them a list of reasons why it wasn't for me.
This was February of 2012, unfortunately. If my interest in medicine had been sparked a few months earlier, I would most likely have been in school now. But it didn't, and I was wading through a murky fog of depression at the time, mourning the loss of someone that I'd loved.

It wasn't until June that something came together. I specifically remember the day, if not the exact date, when I was reading a medical article. Unlike the others, this one dealt less with science and more with personal experience. It was about medical school, and the years spent training to become a doctor. I was fascinated.
Within seconds, I was looking at the websites of medical schools all around the country. And I saw myself, years into the future, attending one of them.
All in a span of perhaps five minutes, my mind was made up. I announced that night to my boyfriend and my family that I had decided to go back to university, with the intention of going to medical school afterward.

A series of setbacks have occurred since then, but I know better now how to deal with them, and I'm working through them. I haven't even a fraction of a second thought.
And, for now, that's what I'll write about here – because I am so very excited.