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How not becoming a doctor changed my life

Most Indian parents want their kids to either become doctors, engineers, or lawyers. Although current trends are now changing, nonetheless the pressure one surmounts while wanting to become a doctor and preparing for competitive exams in India is insane. My parents never really forced me to become a doctor, I was indeed fascinated when I was 3, by this gynecologist whose name I do not remember but I thoroughly enjoyed parading around the hospital calling myself an MD, while my grandma was sick and admitted for some gut inflammatory issue. I liked it then and I still am in awe but I chose not to become one for my own reasons. The journey that I embarked on while wanting to become a doctor made me realize and gave me more meaning than I can ever imagine and I owe it to my mentor, my uncle who changed my perspective on life, meaning, contentment and happiness.

No one ever told me what it takes to become a doctor in India or elsewhere. I salute the work doctors do; they do sacrifice a lot more than most people will ever. Regardless of what field one chooses to pursue, it takes effort and there is always a price to pay, several obstacles to overcome to get from where one is at to where one wants to be. And I did pay the price for what I wanted and I am still on that journey sailing through and it is called life. The lessons I learn in my journey are my greatest achievements.

My journey started at Sri Chaitanya, my first misadventure that turned into an opportunity that I never saw coming. It was my first turning point. It was prison-like, with bars and teachers and wardens and non-stop rigorous toiling, and everything they taught went right above my head in 11th. Mind you, I was an undiagnosed anorexic and one rebellious nut. It all played a role in how I perceived everything and nothing was working out, it felt like I was only moving further away from what I wanted. I had just gotten out of a toxic relationship and I was a wreck. Mentally, physically, emotionally I was drained out and I could not stay there any longer. But it wasn’t the place that made my life miserable, it was the way I saw and experienced life in my head. So, shifting places with a negative mind like mine did not do me much good. What did make all the difference was learning to change the way I think. Before I could make any further progress in learning to cope at least academically, my body gave up on me, I fell flat on the ground and that was the beginning of my end. So did my dreams and everything else I ever wanted came crashing down. I could not even get up; anorexia has finally caught up with me.

I came back home within four months of staying and living in hell. Most coaching institutes talk about their results but not about how so many end up killing themselves because they could not handle stress, pressure, depression, and fear of failure. It was then I learned the first lesson, NEET or any competitive exams are mind games. One who succeeds is not one who is academically adept, yes one is required to be sound in their concepts but beyond that, it is mostly won by having a positive mental attitude. My uncle told me to focus on beating down those demons in my own head.

I joined 12th grade in my hometown and Akash Institute closer to my school. I was beginning to recover from my anorexia and I began to enjoy biology the most. Most people hate doing hard things or studying them but those who toppers scored only because they did and studied hard things. My uncle gifted me this book called Grit by Angela Duckworth, I learned my next lesson there, people who ace, stick it out despite things being tough. They possess “Grit” or the ability to stick it out and persevere in the face of setbacks. I began to stick it out, I began to enjoy studying. Anorexia took control and I relapsed. I could no longer attend school, nor was I able to go to Akash. Nonetheless, I kept at it and did my best, whatever that was, I did not leave one stone unturned.

It is true, when they say, “what we sow is what we reap.” My efforts paid off. I wanted to prepare and I began while I was being treated for anorexia and other health and psychological issues caused by anorexia. I somehow managed to sit up and study whatever I could and my uncle had a plan. It is very important to sit down and plan and set goals, write them down, and know what it is you want. It helped me, I did not know how to get what I want but I took the first step, which is knowing what I wanted. Put down what you want and then figure out how to get whatever it is that you want and what is the price you are willing to pay. I put in tons of effort to recover and study for my boards. Despite not having done my 11th or my 12th in the most conventional way, I managed to score an 84% by starting from scratch, did portions of my 11th and 12th for Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Never compromise on learning, cover everything in the right way, word for word and line for line, understand your concepts one by one, that is how I did it. I couldn’t cover about 15% of both physics and chemistry, as I did both and 11th and 12th in about 8 months’ time before my 12th boards. I did not let anything come in the way of my goals, I focused on eating healthy, sleeping at the right time, and watching one fantastic movie a day in intervals of 30 mins each. I also quit using my phone, I enjoyed the tranquility and it just gave me more time to focus on what I wanted. It was the first time in my entire life that I enjoyed studying so much that I did not mind sitting for 12 to 14 hours a day, I had no time to worry or stress out. Slowly, I began to beat those voices in my head that called me incompetent, hopeless, quitter, and a failure. Worry less, have fun doing hard things, and stick it out.

I took a year off, prepared for NEET by myself and I scored decently enough to bank in a seat at a medical college but that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to score better. But that wasn’t the reason why I turned down the seat offered to me. I did not really know why I wanted to become a doctor, why was it important to me, or if I really wanted to become a doctor. Eventually, I ended up taking, three more years off, I deviated much, began to party, I tried studying BBA, Zoology, Human Physiology, Photography but my heart was set on Medicine. I tried all other kinds of things that distracted me. The things I did and learned taught me how not to live life. I had an ALL OR NOTHING attitude in life which taught me my next big lesson which finally changed my life once and for all, it was from another book that my uncle gifted me. The book is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, wherein he writes, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Nothing of what happened to me, my anorexia, relapsing, not having done my 11th and 12th in the most orthodox manner, or the experimenting phase where I quit tons of courses, was planned, it was a mess but my uncle said this to me, “Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you make out of what happens you. It is your choice to decide how you will perceive this experience because whatever you perceive will become your reality.” I saw all this as a learning experience, my rare opportunity in life to learn the things that will really make a difference. These lessons taught me to live life better and strive for excellence in any and every endeavour.

Did I stumble much? Oh hell, YES!!!! But do I regret it? NO, because I won’t be who I am if it weren’t for my journey. I owe, almost everything I have learned, to my uncle who helped shift paradigms and taught me to experience life through the lens of a positive mental attitude. I learned to take ownership of my past, my present, and my future. There is a lot more that I learned in those three years that I took off, I have mentioned a few of them here. I paid a price for what I learned by making tons of mistakes, failing hard, and learning to rise from the time I faced adversity in my 11th to the time I derailed for four years after my 12th and I am ever learning even now. To me, my learnings are priceless, they are something I will forever cherish and carry with me for a lifetime. And yes, I will always be open to life as it is one of the best and greatest teacher there ever is. Today I am less a quitter, I quit quitting and I learned to stick it out whatever I take up. I am currently doing BA Triple major in Psychology Sociology and Literature. Psychology, the study of mind and behavior interested me much. I took Psychology up and here I am in my 2nd year of college. It truly doesn’t matter how well you begin, what matters is how well you finish, run your own race at your pace. James Allen got it right when he said, “This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails, again and again, to accomplish his purpose as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome, the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting-point for future power and triumph” 

What do you think?

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Athya Ashraf

So very beautifully written!
Completely inspiring and I thoroughly admire every piece of this article. I have not gone through what you have and hence cannot say that I understand. More power to you for being stronger than ever before!
Looking forward to more articles from you.
Keep up the good work! 🙂

Last edited 9 months ago by Athya Ashraf
Suja P

beautiful work

Smrithi.S

Well portrayed!

Last edited 9 months ago by Smrithi.S
Ispreha

What I just read was like a movie to me. You have written it so well that it forced my mind to dig deep into my imagination. ‘Life is like movie’, I think this is a perfect line for this story. Your journey is so inspiring. You chose to never give up! In a world where people define your by your failures, you made sure that your failures become the reason for your success in future. This was perfect! I really loved it!
Thank you so much for writing this

Deshana Pragya Jain

This is such an inspiring story. it’s like a eye opener for people out there who are stumbling and trying so hard. This story of yours motivates the readers. The quotes you have quoted from different books makes this article all the more nicer. I appreciate your strength and your positive approach to life. If it were someone else probably they would have given up. This is an amazing article.

Gousia

soo deep.great work

Parishree Pandya

So proud of you for fighting this hard and getting out of the chaos in your life with your head still high. A very inspirational piece. I hope you keep moving forward and get what you want.

Gousia

awesome narration.keep it up.

Jigyasa vashistha

great informative article..thanks for this one

Gousia

very nice info yyar..keep rocking..