Do you ever think that you could have been an entirely different person?
I was lying awake in bed last night, thinking that maybe I should have gone to medical school, to become a cardiac surgeon or a neurologist or perhaps an emergency physician. I suppose that I still could, but I feel like that’s a door that’s closed to me now, that every day more doors close and my options become fewer and narrower. Maybe I was meant to be a cabinet maker, or a postman, or someone else, and I’ll never know. Perhaps in some alternate world, I am a cardiac surgeon, doing my residency, or I’m apprenticed to a cabinet maker, or I’m taking the bar exam. Maybe I’m actually doing something worthwhile in that other place.
It’s hard to think of a single defining moment when the choice of who I would become was made, but rather than a series of choices ended up creating me. Not necessarily my choices, either. Maybe if I’d gone to school somewhere else, I would have had a passion for physics and become a scientist. Or if my father had pushed me to play music, I would have become a concert harpist. Perhaps if I had been born with different neural pathways, read different books, taken different classes.
For some reason, today I feel like a nobody. I don’t feel like my presence on Earth has had a positive impact on anyone’s life; like I haven’t made any great changes in my society or contributed, in any way, to human existence. Perhaps it’s the equinox causing an existential crisis, as I know that they days will get shorter and colder and darker like they do every year while I remain the same person. Perhaps I think that with five billion people on Earth, a few of them are bound to be losers. I mean, it’s just statistical fact.
Maybe, I think, maybe I should get a second bachelor’s degree in biology, and maybe I should attend medical school and become a doctor. “Why aren’t you a doctor,” my Chinese mother says, and I don’t know. I don’t know. I feel like I am crippled with debt which overshadows all my choices now, like I can’t go back to school because I can’t afford it, I can’t pursue any dreams at all because I have trapped myself. I don’t know why I’m not anything.
I have to say, if this is what being grownup is, I want a fresh deal of cards. I don’t think I want to stand pat anymore.