“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always answer this question in the exact same way. A hesitation, a sigh, and a “Weeeeeelll….I’m Pre-Med right now…”
This is always met with the same response. The person always scrunches his or her face into a pained expression, followed by a look of pity. It’s as if that person just watched me trip and fall.
The truth is, I want to be a doctor. I’m going to be a doctor. Just like you wouldn’t ask a couple who’s been dating a short amount of time if they’re going to get married… it’s difficult for me to admit I’ve found my soul mate. When you decide you’re going to be Pre-Med, it’s a long-term commitment and that terrifies me. Many nights are spent wondering if my relationship with this lifestyle will last. It can be emotionally straining and I’ve questioned my commitment several times since that summer morning before I started college, when I woke up and decided I wanted to go to med school.
The thing is, no matter how many weed out classes break me down emotionally, physically (nights with little sleep), or mentally—I always find myself crawling back to the idea. I tell people I don’t know if I’m cut out for this. Science was never my strength. I had to retake the second semester of Gen Chem, and fear I’ll have to retake Organic Chemistry after failing every exam. My fear used to be of failure, but I’ve learned it’s not the failure that scares me. I’m afraid that one day, after committing my life to this pre-profession, the sparks won’t be there. I will no longer be in love, and I’ll have to rewrite my identity from scratch. I’ve learned that I don’t have to cram every single med school/MCAT related class into one semester. I can’t handle it and that’s ok. I’ve learned that unlike most of my friends in my classes, I usually don’t think the last exam we took “was so easy”. My path to med School will be anything but conventional, but my passion for health and for people is what propels that pep talk I give myself before every exam. I’ve spent more nights crying over these classes than I ever have over a boy. Sad? Maybe a little. But it’s a choice—my choice, the only choice.
On my hardest days I envision myself walking down the aisle, in a white…lab coat and I just know that it will all be worth it. ‘Til death do we part…
About Olivia Lacny
Olivia is in her second year at the University of Virginia. She is majoring in Biology and is very involved in activities on campus. Not only is she an active member of Kappa Delta sorority, but also is involved in the Peer Health Education program, a selective and competitive club at UVA that educates other organizations and student groups on campus about college-related issues such as nutrition, drugs/ alcohol, sexual health, and mental health. She, along with a few fellow students, is planning to launch a chapter at UVA for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Fall 2015 of which she will be Vice President. Olivia is currently interning in the Research Oncology unit at Children’s National Hospital in DC.