If you’re like me (and many others), you’ve evaluated the meaning of your life at different intervals of your journey. Why am I here? What is my contribution? What’s my potential? How can I leave this world better than when I arrived? You, know, the existential biggies.
A drive to answer these questions recently compelled me to complete a two-year pre-med program, which felt like a pretty big feat for this Fine Arts major. None of those subjects were in my wheelhouse, but I thrived on the struggle and learned secrets about the universe (well, secrets to me, but everyday concepts in math and science about how things “work”).
My goal was to become a physician. My reasoning for this was that practicing medicine could be the ultimate vehicle for me to help people: my family, my community, and maybe in some lasting way, the world. (Lofty goals.)
Only a few (thousand) obstacles would need to be overcome…MCATs, application, a grueling path through med school, more exams, residency, financial risk and debt (oh, the fact that I’ll be 42 in November)…in order to fulfill this dream to become a
Then, a few weeks ago, I came to terms with the fact that I had more than eight years of my educational plan still looming ahead. I had to call an audible – make a difficult but necessary decision – to stop.
And now, instead of hearing myself delcare, “I’m going to be a doctor,” my new statement is, “Well, I was going to be a doctor.” And if I was “going” to be something/someone, what does that mean about who I am now?
You are already somebody.
I started plugging back in to activities I had abandoned when I went back to school full time. There are so many opportunities in which to get involved, with friends, family, and community groups. There’s always a great need locally for anyone willing to give their time and talent. I can contribute, here and now, no M.D. degree needed. And, bonus, they are places that I feel strong, confident, and like they’re definitely in my wheelhouse.
The lesson is this: if you’re on your way to being “someone,” for example, you’re studying for a degree, you’re learning a new role at work, you’re becoming a new mom or dad, don’t forget you are still you. It’s not the finish line of the pursuit that defines you. You are already somebody.
You already have a unique personality, life skills, crafty intellect, and an innate ability to help others around you. You are already a family member, a community member, a friend, or other important person to someone (even to your pet!).
If life plans change – as they most certainly and unexpectedly do – and at some point you find you’re not going to cross the finish line to become “someone”, you’ll be OK, because you’ve never not been the you who has been, and is now, and will continue to be, amazing.