When I Grow Up
“This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.” ― Haruki Murakami
Many of us living in the Western Hemisphere aspired to certain things as children. White picket fence, professional career, double or even triple car garage, a summer cottage, spouse and two kids as the ideal family. For some, it was the parents who instilled such goals. Others came to them on their own. The motivating factors varied. The family circumstances, the neighbourhood we grew up in or what a teacher said or did not say in school. These goals completely changed or underwent adjustments as time went by and “reality” set in.
In my case, as I have shared before, my earliest professional aspiration was to be a medical doctor. My earliest role models, two sisters who were my neighbours, wanted to enter the medical profession. They were much ‘brighter’ than I was and so to me that seemed like the goal to have.
That was at age 10. My late mother forked out money that she could ill-afford to buy me the complete set of the Encyclopedia. She thought that would put me on the path to an internship. Well, it was of no use. See, Mathematics was one of my greatest challenges in school. My discomfort went way beyond being in a hot and overcrowded classroom after lunch reciting the timetables. I would slouch, almost under my desk, desperate for the super power to make myself invisible. Fervent was my prayer that the teacher would not call on me to tell her what was 7 x 7. That was the hardest!
Medicine, as you well know, requires knowledge of Mathematics. It is the foundation of physics and chemistry. Even up to high school, I was still struggling with the subject. Truth be told, to this day the struggle remains real. Thank heavens for calculators but more so for smartphones! I am the one who you see counting on her fingers when a 9 needs to be added to a 7!
Thankfully, my true love would be revealed and the notion of being a medical doctor was set aside. Not everyone was so lucky to recognise their skills early and instead pursue them. This fellow I knew was one such person. At age 35, he was still desperate to be a doctor although he had to then excelled as a physical education teacher. After two years on a preparatory faculty, he finally managed to pass some of the prerequisites to enter medical school. That, however, was short-lived as he had to change programmes and do what was within his ability.
This Is Not About Quitting
There is absolutely no shame in starting over, recognizing what is within your ability, identifying your skill-set and knowing what you can and cannot do. This is true for educational pursuits, your career path or even in a relationship.
Yes, it has been said that “The desperate usually succeed because they have nothing to lose.” You might have read hundreds of motivational quotes and articles that tell you never to give up. This, however, is not about quitting. There comes a point in life when you must understand, accept, and fully embrace what is yours and what is not.
When it became clear to me that medical school or even nursing was not going to be part of my future, I had to dig in and find out what was I good at. Whether it is school, work or your love life, never be so desperate and:
- Ignore the signs giving you clues that you are on the wrong path. It could be something as simple as a tightening of your gut when you approach the classroom door. It could be waking up in the morning and throwing up at the thought of work.
- Follow the crowd. Not because everyone else is doing squats, dressing in a certain style or going vegan and you are desperate to fit in, should you go against your natural ability or tastes.
- Be who you are not. This is more than just trying to fit in. When you find that you have stopped thinking for yourself but allow family, your significant other and/or the news to tell you your stance on an issue, you know you have sold yourself short.
Go To Hell!
In the world of dogma, you become free the day you decide to go to hell. Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
Falling in step, being one of the crowd, toeing the line – those are the easy ways out. Go to hell – even in a hand basket if that is your preferred means of transportation!
Dare to be you in a world that would want us all to be the same, think and act like herds. Never be so desperate and conform to live easy. Trust me, it is a trick!
That is the hard way of living as you will struggle to pass exams that you were never intended to sit in the first place. You will be in relationships that will bring you no joy because you were born to be single. The corner office might be yours but you will never truly savour the view because it was not meant for your eyes.
The only thing you should be desperate to be is You!
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Have a wonderful rest of the day and week!