I'm not about to talk about THAT girl, but specifically I’m talking about uncertainty in university. There are times I wish that I had just gone for a professional faculty, like business, or pharmacy, or engineering. However, there is something to be said of working not only for you, but choosing something for you. I feel that people who pick these faculties rarely have passion for them, and usually feel safe and secure about choosing them. It’s easy to just go with a sure bet, a 9-5 job where you pull in enough to live comfortably. It’s something completely different when you shoot for the stars. You go for medicine, or you go for graduate school. Getting a master’s is easy, getting a doctorate is a whole new level of competition, it’s not 1 for every eight that apply (my nearest medical school), it’s often 1 for every ten. I’ve decided to go down this road now, to attempt to make it into medical school, or eventually a PhD program. The payoff is huge – being a doctor allows you to live anywhere you want, and make lots of money and earn lots of respect for doing it. To a lesser extent the same is true of being a Neuropsychologist. However, the downsides of not making it into either of these very small elite groups of people are also huge. Being stuck with a master’s or not getting into medical school leaves very little opportunities. Most likely I would end up taking the LSAT. Although being a lawyer makes a comfortable living, it most often isn’t a happy one.
That’s not all – I want to travel and see the world. It’s impossible to do this while going to university full time. That’s the point though – there never will be a “good” time to go off and travel. First it will be because I’m trying to get into a master’s program or medical school, then it will be I’m going into Post-Doc or residency or law school. Next I’ll want to find a stable job. Then I won’t be able to travel as long as I wanted because I won’t have a long vacation time. Before you know it I’m 35 and I haven’t seen anything. I’d rather travel now, in my youth. Explore and experience new things, rather than slowly be strangled to death by academia and expectations.
You also have to make sacrifices as a young individual. As much as it’s my time to live on my own and experience life by myself, I can’t kickoff from the nest with plans for a long academic haul – the fear of debt is too great. If your parents don’t have enough money to support you outside of the home (which is quite common) you end up living at home. The realization of living at home is made more difficult by the fact that you could end up living at home well into your twenties thanks to the long education process. Being a twenty-something year old male living at home is about the worst situation I can think of. You’re not only being told how to live, but think about the intimate consequences as well (my walls are paper thin.)
I understand now the allure of winning the lottery. It’s not about having obscene amounts of money to blow on anything and everything you see (although that could be fun too), it’s about the security. Always knowing that even if you fail, you have all this money to fall back upon is a beautiful thing. It’s not a selfish thing, it’s a human thing. Your dream of winning a lottery allows you to chase your other dreams. Dreams allow for more dreams, but when does dream making become surreal, imaginative, wishful, overly optimistic thinking? If we can’t achieve our first dreams, will we ever achieve the others? Perhaps then we must drop our first dreams, and live in the others. Rather than focusing an entire life on becoming a doctor or a neuropsychologist, only to eventually potentially be let down, take a shortcut. Travel now, see the world and all that was meant to be seen, talk to people, and embrace other cultures. If you get caught up in chasing one dream, you’ll never live the ones you really wanted in the first place, the ones that weren’t waypoints, but the finish line. They can be achieved too.
Then again, I’ll probably just end up staying in school and 8 years from now be nowhere closer to any of my dreams.
(Told you I was a cynic.)
(Told you I was a cynic.)