Apparently I’m going full on Robin Sharma lately, so here goes..
I graduated high school on 2011, perfect grades, well rounded student, teacher’s pet, best student of the year etc etc. These titles don’t really do anything for me anymore. But they are a part of me, my history and the reason I am who I am today.
I got the news that I was automatically qualified for a government scholarship for me to do my A-Levels (the equivalent of O-Levels I think?) and I took it. My first semester of A-Levels was fun, really it was. I moved out of my house, young and independent. I knew my goal was to get 4A*s but I didn’t know what to do after that. I got mostly Cs for my first exam.
Having a dead on ambitious roommate really helps to put you into perspective. For my second and third semester, I locked myself in my room, and studied away. I remember buying a loaf of bread and eating a slice (plain) whenever I was hungry, because cooking or going to get food was a waste of time. I got the 4A*s.
I distinctly remember sitting in the first computer at the cyber cafe with my mom, beside me were a bunch of loud, rampant student skipping class. 90, 91, 92, 92 was my score. I didn’t feel a thing. Because I had no idea what to do.
Don’t get me wrong though, even though I didn’t know what to do, I had plans. Oh boy I did.
I already sat for my SAT, ISAT and my Cambridge entrance exam. I applied to a university in Malaysia and University of Queensland for dentistry and to Cambridge, ICL and UCL for Chemical Engineering. I had no idea what my passion was, but both were good degrees that people with sane, logical minds would choose.
Now Cambridge’s interviewers REALLY have a knack for seeing you through all bullshits you say. You know the ‘why do you want to do this’ question? I don’t suck at faking things but as I was reciting my answer, it was very apparent to the both of us that I had no passion for chemical engineering at all. I ended up rejected for Trinity College(the hardest college to get into in Cambridge) and got put into the Winter Pool instead. In the end, I didn’t get in.
I got into ICA and UCL, but I couldn’t decide. I made a list (pro and cons) and the day before the dateline for registration in dental school, I flipped a coin. I went to the prayers room, had a heart to heart with God and flipped the damn coin. 3 times, they all said dental. So I registered in dental school feeling like I was going to throw up. The only thing I told my mom was that I signed up for a deal with the devil.
I was absurdly happy in the first 2 weeks of dental school it was crazy. The orientation was fun, the seniors was nice, and I loved my circle of friends. But I constantly would get anxiety attacks, and would always doubt my decision. I went to my sponsors and told them to delay payment to the university. They agreed.
By the end of the 2 weeks though, I was in a very very bad place. And I asked my friend, why are you doing dentistry? Her answer was that she cannot imagine herself doing anything else. And I think that night I understood. I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life. The next day, very quietly, without telling anyone but my family, I withdrew from dental school. It was the single most exhilarating and freeing, but the most painful and scariest decision I ever made. But I knew it was right.
This all happened by end of February and I spent March in an absolute hell of self-doubt and worry. I decided I would work during April and May at a vet. I thought I was a hard working person, but just in my first month, I could see that I hated working for someone else. And I was a pretty lazy employee to my embarrassment, but I really was. I was however, juggling 3 jobs. This was the time I was exposed to Adventurous Kate, a female solo traveller who writes her own blog. And so the travel bug bit.
With my hard earned cash and my newfound wanderlust, I went to China for 10 days with my friends. Boy oh boy did traveling open my mind, heart and soul. It throws you out of your comfort zone and makes you listen to yourself. I think I always knew what I wanted to do, but I was a very good liar, especially to myself.
As a kid, I spent most of my time in my dad’s clinic, and so when people asked me what I wanted to do, they always follow with ‘you should be a doctor like your dad!’. I absolutely hated it. Can you tell I’m a rebel? So I grew up telling everyone the last thing I would do in the world is be a doctor.
I don’t know exactly at what point did I change my mind, but it wasn’t quick, it wasn’t overnight and it was painful. But I do distinctly remember lying on bed one morning, feeling anxious as always (I hated being awake) and slowly I considered applying to a medical school that I used to think was dodgy. It was the craziest idea ever, but I cannot explain to you how it actually instantly made me feel better. Not ‘yay let’s do this’ better, just a little less anxious.
And so I went downstairs, sat on the front of my mom’s car (she was drying laundry) and told her I’d like to apply for med school. Now at this point, my mom has practically given up with me and my antics, but she did give me her permission. 2 hours later, I applied to NuMED and got an email for an interview. A few days later, I got into med school. And it was the single, most exciting news I’ve gotten the whole year.
I grabbed a napkin (the nearest thing I could write on!) and wrote down my term dates, and planned my next 5 years. I was going to be a doctor, and I was absolutely sure.
To think that I ended up doing medicine in a not-so-famous university in Malaysia is something I never would’ve believed had you told me 5 years ago. I would’ve laughed you off, or be pissed even. But life has a funny was of leading you to places you never think of going, and today, I cannot think of being anything else, but a doctor.
Well maybe I’d like to be a traveling doctor, but you get the point 😉