Belonging to a family in which being a doctor or an engineer was a very big deal, I had a lot of expectations to live up to. I was “programmed” since the age of 3 into believing that women can only pursue either teaching or medicine as a career. I was told a hundred times and again that in order to gain “respect” from society, I could and SHOULD embark upon the journey of medical school. Don’t get me wrong. My folks are lovely people who know the importance of education regardless of gender, but, the idea of a woman having a career other than in the field of teaching or medicine was something that was beyond their level of comprehension.
As I grew up, I realized that everything that I was told to believe in was not entirely true. I saw women excelling in every field that they stepped in. They were changing the world in many ways and the best part was that the world in turn was accepting them. I tried to reason with my family and change their point of view. Being a freelance content writer, I started exploring the world of advertising and to be honest I was fascinated. I tried to reason even more vocally but was told that since I have the potential to be a good doctor, I should not waste it.
I enrolled in a medical school, hence started a life that I never wanted. I used to drag myself every day to school filled with dread and a deep sense of gloom. My subjects were interesting and I was getting above average grades, but since my heart was not in it I was really not content. Medical school is very serious business. There is a prerequisite to it which I was not warned about; “Everything NEEDS to be absorbed instantly”. This is the case because there is a vast expanse of knowledge to cover and perfect in a short amount of time.
All the long “all nighters” used to seem worthless and I often used to find myself wondering as to why I was putting up with the mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. At the end of each day, I used to feel completely drained. After some time, I started growing weary and hopeless. I knew that I wanted more out of my life and exactly what I wanted, but I could not see a way out for myself. My whole attitude towards life changed magnanimously. I accepted the fact that this is how life will be and that I have to come to terms with it, whether I liked it or not. I had no room for a social life because of my routine. In the instances I used to have time to go out, I could not enjoy myself wholly because I could not let go of all the gloominess I carried inside. Things and life itself, was not easy.
Seeing me in a state of emotional and mental inertia, my parents sat me down and talked to me. They asked me what was wrong and told me to let everything out honestly. I told them everything and waited for them to say something. The silence that followed was horrible and I was filled with dread, but the moments after that turned my life blissful. My parents, as halfheartedly as they might have, gave me their blessing and told me that they would support me in my quest to explore the field of my choice.
This was the turning point of my life. I felt elated and ecstatic. I started smiling more because I knew that I would finally be getting what my heart had yearned for. I knew I had to put in lot of hard work to get where I am today, but I was determined and I did not let anything get me down.
I might have been a good doctor, but I know in my heart that I would never have been a great one. And let’s be honest, do we really need another doctor who is competent but does not want to put their soul into their dedication for this noble profession?
This was my journey because of which, I can now happily say that once I was med school student; now I’m a normally functional (and content) human being!
Syeda Eliya Raza Shamsi