A very common stereotype among Asian families is the father relentlessly urging his child to become a doctor (and it’s not even for a good cause, it’s solely for the money).
Well, folks, there’s merit to this stereotype because it’s true for my own family. My parents urged for me to become a doctor ever since I was in kindergarten. I still remember when we had an assignment to create a drawing of ourselves with a career we were interested in, sometime in elementary school. I had no idea what I wanted to do at the time so I just drew a doctor. I never wanted to be a doctor. All my life I fought passionately against this. I just knew somehow that it wasn’t the career for me. Then came senior year in high school and freshman year in college, and I had this huge desire to become a neurologist (and yes, more generally, that is a doctor). You can bet my parents were real happy about that.
Well, they don’t lie when they say there’s a “weeding out” process in college. If you can’t make it, you get weeded out, really fast. Everything within the grading system is curved, so if you’re at the bottom of the scores, you become the new failure. Top 15% becomes the new “A” and the lowest 15% becomes the new “F”. Therefore, there will always be someone at the bottom facing failure. Needless to say, I suffered a great deal. I’m still alive, though, barely. Overall, I’ve done decently, but nowhere good enough to follow my initial dreams for neurology. It took me a long time to come to terms with that. But I’m proud to say that I have come to terms with it.
Well, recently I became really interested in optometry, especially after my visit to an optometry college. Long story short, the other day I mentioned it to my dad and let me give you a condensed, but accurate reenactment of our conversation.
Me: Hey dad. Do you have any friends who are optometrists?
Dad: Yeah, sure. If you wanna get your eyes checked we can go to one of my friends, he’ll give us a discount.
Me: Um, no, I meant I was interested in optometry as a career. Do they like their jobs? How is it?
Dad: Yeah, sure. They like it. But you know, if you become a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) you have lots of options. I have a friend whose daughter works at a hospital. You can also do laser eye surgery instead of optometry. [insert long tangent about other careers I have absolutely no interest in]
Me: Um, dad, why are you telling me about all this? I have no interest in them. I only asked you about optometry.
Dad: I thought you were interested in medical school.
[a few tangents later]
Dad: If you don’t have the grades to get into medical school you can go somewhere out of the country and then come back as a doctor. Well, even though DO isn’t as good as MD, they still make more money than optometry.
First of all, he makes it sound so easy. Medical school isn’t for everyone, ok? It’s a tough road. What disappoints me the most is that I clearly told my parents last year during the fall that I wasn’t going to make it to medical school with my overall grades. And you know what my dad said last year? He said, if you don’t think you can make it, I don’t blame you. Do whatever makes you happy. What a load of crap. If he really meant that, why was he so intent the other day on telling me about becoming a doctor? Why did he not listen to me at ALL when I was trying to tell him how excited I was about optometry? It’s sad. He truly doesn’t know anything about me (he doesn’t even know when my birthday is or how old I am) and he won’t even listen to me when I want to share my thoughts and excitement with him. No wonder why we never really talk…
I told my mom, and she said he was just a man full of words. She told me to do whatever I want to do. And I think the fact that I have at least one parent who lets me know it’s okay to just do what I want to do with my life…I think that very support keeps me from falling into major doubt and depression. I’ve been working hard all my life. I deserve to choose a path that I won’t regret for the rest of my life. My parents should be proud. It’s not like I decided to throw away my life. No matter what career I choose, I know I will do my best to excel in it. And that should be more than enough to be proud about.
Family business aside, spring quarter (the third and last quarter to complete one full school year) has gone by really quickly, and once again the weeks are winding down. I feel pretty proud of myself today because I spent about 5 hours in the library studying and working on math homework I’ve got a math midterm in less than two weeks and an organic chemistry midterm on the same day, plus all of my finals in less than three weeks so I’m trying to buckle down and get caught up with everything.
I guess it was inevitable for this blog entry to be related to school and careers. What else can a college student think about when it’s close to finals, right?! Keep on fighting!