Just like many other undergraduates, my academic career did not go without some unexpected twists and turns. Despite the stereotypes surrounding Asian American parenting (which I must say, are often true), my parents never steered me towards any specific subject during my early and later childhoods. By leaving me with the impression that they completely trusted whatever decision I made, I have always set high expectations for myself in response to that trust. In doing so, I placed myself in my own self-constructed cycle of constant apprehension and satisfaction without any proper guidance, like a rickety hamster wheel.
Unfortunately, the huge imbalance between the secondary education and the college education systems in North America almost threw me off. Even with a specialized high school education from the city, I was not prepared to enter college as a pre-med Biology major. And yet, here I am in my junior year as a pre-med English Literature major with a Biology minor and the beginnings of feeling like I am on the right track. However, do not be mistaken that I regret entering SUNY Geneseo as a Biology major. In fact, I definitely would not have gotten here without the two subjects clashing together.
In comparison to Frank Money’s and Alice Achitophel’s stories (in the context of my previous post), I have the privilege of having multiple paths to choose from. In my post “Following the Flow of Fulfillment,” I paint their stories in a melancholic light in that Frank and Alice seem to be caught in the backfire effect of their social contexts; as if Lotus and Alice’s original body, respectively, call to them, “It is your fate to be here, no matter how much you try to fight it.”
In my case, society told me that I must major in one of the sciences in order to get into medical school, and I believed it too. Then I started doing summer volunteering in local hospitals back in the city to get some real medical experience. I was involved with a lot of direct patient care, which is exactly what it sounds like: checking up on patients, helping them communicate their needs, etc. Sure, I learned from and connected with all types of professions, but nothing can replace the joy I felt from helping patients get accommodated to the hospital and, of course, making sure they leave safely.
As stupidly obvious as it sounds, I was reminded of the humane part of being a medical practitioner; of understanding that the patient is not a specimen to be observed and dissected on an exam table, but an individual who places their trust in your hands to help heal them. At the hospital, I noticed a huge difference between those who worked with compassion and those who do not. Those with compassion genuinely asked specific questions for each individual patient and worked with a real smile on their face while those who did not rushed to get their rounds done. The former taught me that, in order to help all types of people, it is essential for one to have an open-minded awareness of the world and to always maintain a sense of humanity. My love for science and medicine has never restricted me in any way, I just realized that through literature I could explore and understand society better; to fully utilize and check on my humanity through writing and critical analysis.