First Generation Disappointment- Sorry Mom, Med School Just Isn’t For Me

Making peace with the fact that I won’t tick off a doctor/ lawyer/ engineer box (at least in the near future).

My eyes crack open to the bright yellow Oklahoma sun. As I come to terms with the brightness I pull my colorful quilt up to my neck and hear the hairspray crunching in my hair as I make the first movements of the day. I’m exhausted but I need to get up and get ready for my flight back to NYC. My cousin got married the night before, and I can hear the rest of my family buzzing around in the living room. Three of my mom’s siblings and their families (plus ours) stayed in one large house for the weekend. My sister already hugged me goodbye and left for her earlier flight, and my father just claimed the bathroom. As I lay there I could hear my mom and tita talking. My three functioning brain cells struggled to get themselves together upon realizing that my mother was talking about me. I could barely make out the details about what she was saying, but my tita’s response was to let me spread my wings and fly. I can only assume my mother was freaking out about my seemingly aimless career path.

And I’m slowly learning to not let the anxiety of where I “should” be right now affect my drive and visions for the future I want.

I trained to be a ballet dancer when I was younger but ended up in an engineering high school because it was the “smart” thing to do. Totally my decision, my parents didn’t pressure me. I was a very practical 8th grader. My other option was LaGuardia high school, a performing arts school. But I ended up finding Argentine tango because of a biomedical program I was in, funny enough. My classmates and I were going to Mount Sinai hospital instead of a gym period, and we all ended up taking dance classes to fulfill the requirements. The next step was a scholarship putting me onto a path towards medical school in college. But the more I learned about how the medical system operates, the less I wanted to be a part of it.

As any avid tango dancer knows, the dance has a way of pulling you in and consuming you. It wasn’t the escape, it was my reality. It was stress of premed that didn’t seem real to me. It was a toxic environment filled with cheating, memorization not to learn, but for memorization sake. Drugs to concentrate, everyone exhausted all of the time. Pushing the people trying to help heal people into the profession with the highest suicide rate.

I’m part of a generation growing up in between two eras. My parents grew up “pre-internet” while my little sister was born into a generation holding iPads at age two. We are figuring out how to work smarter, not harder. Career paths are no longer a straight shot like they once were. But this lack of a path means that we are now free to make new ones. Ones that did not previously exist. The concept of internet content creation is relatively new. The idea that you could speak to an image of someone across the world in real time did not exist before. The idea that you could reach millions of people with one click and 140 characters was foreign. There is now a world of infinite possibilities, we just have to put in the work to make it happen.

I’m learning to push against the walls of normality. Grad school would be the “simpler” way out. Someone else structuring my life, telling me what to learn, telling me where to be and when. A few more years of a pre-set schedule. I am not at all knocking it if it is the right choice for your situation! It is much more scary to be an entrepreneur. But to me it is radically more fulfilling. I work as a personal chef in the day time which leaves me room to pursue other projects. Including writing for this blog which I treat like a job. I have to show up every Tuesday and Friday with quality, original content. I write everything, take all of my photos, and manage the site. If I don’t do it, no one will tap me on the shoulder to remind me to do it. The hope that I am providing something of value, a piece that even one person resonates with is what keeps me going.

My tango clothes sewing has been on hold since I have been prioritizing other projects. My jewelry supplies are also neatly waiting for me to use again. Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in my creations. For now, I am putting my energy into cultivating a class that I am proud of, and I am happy to announce that my Tango Fit class will be launching this Monday! It is designed to help tango dancers support their craft by increasing strength, flexibility, and coordination.

So to anyone who is following an unconventional path, I am here to say it’s okay. It is okay to change, and it’s okay to do something that you didn’t plan on doing. It’s okay to try. It’s okay to fail. It is your choice to let that failure be your end or a learning opportunity. Try again. Fail again. There are many facets to “health care” and I am learning to heal people in my own way.

I thought that only a few friends would read my blog. Sometimes it feels like shouting into a void. But at least one person in 46 counties has heard my voice. You can affect more people than you realize! Just remember no one will believe in your dream more than you do, so get out there and go for it!

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