Imagine taking the MCAT, applying to schools, getting interviews, and even being accepted into medical school. How would it feel knowing your dedication has paid off? I felt great, as I had studied hard and made sacrifices others were unwilling to make. As I saw the finish line for what would be the beginning of medical school, I began to ask myself, “Should I continue onwards toward medical school or not?”
When I was in my masters program, I made the difficult decision to not continue on my journey toward medical school because I was not fully in it anymore. I had come as far as finishing the medical school process and simply submitting my deposit to hold my seat. However, I decided I was done — at least for the time being.
Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of being a signed model, published author, world traveler to over 25 countries (having lived in four for multiple months), and public speaker. This helped me gain extensive knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world as I explored various career opportunities I had never considered, and I found out I was great at some of them.
I came to the realizations through all my adventures that the world is huge, and there is so much I had not seen, thus I believe I am in my prime in order to take many risks and fight to succeed. I have learned three specific things throughout this whole process, which will help you decide what you truly want as long as you are honest with yourself.
1.) Accept random and new opportunities. I am no longer sure if medical school is right for me, but I am aware that as a 24-year-old, I have to take many chances and journey to places rarely anyone has been. Over the past two years, I have come to treat life like an experiment, which provides for a lot of beauty and uncertainty.
Three years ago, I went on a pilgrimage walking across Spain. Two years ago, I accepted the opportunity to model in Los Angeles. One year ago, I engaged in an intense one-year master’s program at a medical school. Now, I find myself engaging full-time in the corporate world along with continuously building my own brand as a writer and speaker.
It is beautiful what human beings can accomplish just by taking many opportunities. This affords one the ability to fail fast and often, which will lead to discovering what you cannot live without and success.
2.) You have time. So many people think if they do not get into medical school by a certain age, they are doomed. Others I have met give me a deadline and say, “If I do not get into medical school next year, I will just do something else.” This is not the sign of someone who deeply desires with all their strength to be a physician. I have met multiple people on my journey who applied to medical school for up to five years before they received one acceptance! This is mind-blowing, yet the sign of someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish a dream.
I understand if I decide to go back to medicine, there is time. Be patient and accept that one year or even a few in the grand scheme of things is nothing.
3.) If you want to help people, there are other ways. “Why do you want to be a physician?” is what I would ask my classmates, and they would say, “To help people get better.”
Growing up, we hear about the most traditional careers such as firefighters, police, attorneys, teachers and doctors. Most people find themselves believing they want at least one of these careers early on because they have been exposed to it so much — yet there are thousands of other ways to help people.
I thought I could only be a physician to truly help people; then I realized this was not the case. This is part of the reason I know I can do other things and be OK: My end goal of simply “helping other people” does not change.
There are plenty of career options offering amazing salaries and ways of helping people. We are in an age where if you want to start your own business, you have access to many resources making it easier than before. You can accomplish anything you want, and the model I use to know what I truly love is to try out five new things knowing I will give up three, possibly like one — and definitely love one of them.
This has helped me become more knowledgeable in understanding what I need to shape my life and allowing me to reach my ultimate potential, which I will continue to chase until my last breath.
Armando Quintana is a writer and public speaker based in Los Angeles. This piece originally appeared on KevinMD.com and is used by permission.
(photo credit, homepage article image: Tony Webster, Flickr)