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Don’t Stand In Your Parents’ Shadow; Forge Your Own Career Path

alexWe have all heard and have probably asked the most common yet dreaded 11-word question. You know it. We all do. It is asked of all ages, by your grandma and even that guy you were totally crushing on, and when it hits, it seems like a binding contract: So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

When you come from a family of science-minded folks, as I do, it’s frankly no surprise that this question practically begs you to answer with something stepping in line with your familial background. Yes, I want to do something in medicine, but my family’s modeling matters just as much as mine. I do gain guidance and inspiration from my mom in medicine and dad in engineering, but my career choice is based also on my interests and desires for the future.

I’ve always been enthralled by our natural world and to say it in layman terms: How does this all work? From always asking “Why?” as a child to never taking “It’s hard to explain,” for an answer, I was constantly questioning the world around me throughout my childhood. I remember in fifth grade my best friend and I created an experiment for the science fair, and it wasn’t your usual “Let’s blow up a volcano!” We tested whether a plant would grow faster with sugar water or tap water. To my ten-year-old self, it made sense that sugar water would benefit the plant more. Because, to be honest, who doesn’t like sugar? But, of course, my little world was turned right round. Regular water was better for the plant (read: osmosis). Although I intend to help the people of the world (sorry, plants!) when I grow up, this experiment kindled the fervor that had started when I started walking around the house in my mom’s white doctor’s coat. I wanted to learn more and more.

And like the rest of the good and moral population of the world, I like to help people and find that any way I can help others is fulfilling. I feel that we all have the obligation to help others in whatever and whichever way possible.

So what better way to combine my innate curiosity and love for helping others than in a career? Ultimately, I want to become some sort of doctor. I see medicine as a way for me to help people in small and big ways. And I can definitely see a lot of ways to help others in any specialty of medicine I decide to go into.

Even though my family is heavily involved in the science world, my career choice is not family-pressured. My interests and desires just happened to push me forward in this direction. I have always wanted my career choice to be based on what I see myself happily doing for the rest of my life without having a midlife crisis.

Your career choice is ultimately your choice. Yes, it can be influenced by family, friends, and society, but you should never let that pressure you. You know yourself the best and thus know what career fits you.