May 9, 2017, by Shweta
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“What do you do?”
I knew he was referring to what course I was studying at university. But instead, I responded the way I always have; with what I really do.
“I write. I also go hiking sometimes and I play tennis.” I tell him I like being creative and watching sunsets. “I make things and have conversations with friends and strangers. That’s some of what I do.”
He got it. Thanks, guy in the bar, for getting it.
All through high school, I was asked what I wanted to do with my life. Expected answers always seemed to range from course titles to dream university names. When I got to university, I realized that that same question was everyone’s go-to conversation starter. Growing up, I had simple answers. I wanted to laugh with my friends around a campfire the way they did in the movies. I wanted to adopt my own puppy. I wanted to run with that puppy until I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. And I never understood why my answers were never enough; why adults would shake their heads and walk away. Their eyes just didn’t light up the way mine did at the simpler things in life.
“There’s no money in simply experiencing life.”, they would say.
So, I did what was expected of me. I always did enough in school to get good grades, faking myself through tests and forgetting everything I learnt minutes after. I got myself into medical school and for the past year, have sustained, again, by doing enough. But doing enough isn’t enough for me and so, as time went by, I started taking initiative in my own life. Person after person, repeated that question only to be baffled by my answer. But for the first time, I decided to seek self-validation instead of looking for it externally. And in doing so, I figured it out.
I will never know what I want to do but I know who I want to be.
I want to be happy. I want to be hopeful and considerate, even when the world does not deserve it. I want to help people. I want to help the animals on the street and fight for women’s rights. But it’s true, experiencing life won’t bring money the way a job will. Luckily, a career doesn’t have to dissolve life as much as it can enrich it. And so, I vow that as a medical student and future doctor, I will care for people. I will make them smile. I will know someone else’s joy and someone else’s pain and I will contribute to the place I stand on. And maybe one day, all those adults who didn’t understand will begin to.