At 8 years old, I wanted to be a doctor.
At 10 years old, I wanted to be a doctor.
At 12 years old, I wanted to be a doctor.
At 16 years old, I wanted to be a doctor.
At 18 years old, I wanted to be a doctor. The difference being that I had wavered, then. During sixth form, I had thought about doing a French degree or a Chemistry degree or a Chemistry with French degree. I wasn't going to do Biology even though I enjoyed it because I didn't want to learn about plants any more.
At 20 years old, I wanted to be a doctor. I was a month in to my second year studying Biochemistry at Queen Mary, University of London, which was only a means to an end - another string to the bow which would, eventually, get me onto a medical degree. I was also in the middle of the beginning of depression. I was scared and I knew that I'd scraped first year, but I was assured that everyone scraped first year, and that it would all be okay.
At 22, there is part of me that wants to be a doctor. The problem being, that I'm currently 1/9 of the way through a Children's Nursing degree, and sometimes, that stings a little bit.
When you've had a career on a pedestal for 14 years, with relatives saying unhelpful things, and friends who have succeeded on the exact same path you'd put yourself on - because an undergraduate degree followed by a medical degree isn't in any way uncommon - it becomes difficult to know why it's still an engrained part of your brain. Is it because it's actually what's meant for you, or just because you've been talking about it for so long that you don't know what the alternative is, even if you're in a very definite alternative?
I try not to dwell on life being unfair, because I don't really think we're entitled to anything and I don't really believe in fair. I don't think that there's anything which I deserve for being a certain type of person etc etc. That said, I constantly feel cheated out of a medical degree. It's hard work to get in. You need three excellent a levels, or an excellent undergraduate degree, a cracking interview, as well as about 6 other factors which I won't bore you all with, and I know I could have done it. 5 years ago, I think the figures said that 60% of 18 year olds who applied to medical school through UCAS didn't receive a single offer. So, when I say I know I could have done it, what I mean is that as far as luck isn't involved, I know that I'm perfectly capable. I guess what I'm saying is that I know I'm intelligent enough. Intelligent to have got those a levels, if my mind hadn't been trying to do 407852 other things at the time, which I can't go into because guess what, taboo taboo taboo. Intelligent enough to have got a solid biochemistry degree, if depression hadn't peed on my bonfire.
Don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying I deserve anything for being intelligent or that intelligence is the #1 characteristic or anything like that - it's just a character trait. Some people have it, some people have more of it, some people have less of it, the same way some people can sing and some people can draw and some people can dance. I can do none of those things. No seriously, believe me, I have NO other strings to my bow, and I struggle every day with a complete lack of creativity. My music teacher in primary school had to take me in at lunchtimes to teach me to sing well enough to pass the Oral part of a grade 1 flute exam. I can't even learn to draw or sing or dance, but I can learn Biology and Chemistry, and I enjoy doing it, too. Ok, self awareness moment over.
When I failed my second year of my Biochemistry degree because I physically couldn't learn, I appealed to the university to be able to resit my exams on the basis that I wasn't well enough to have taken them. The response to my appeal was dismissive and lacked understanding; it prevented me from taking the exams again and firmly closed the door to medical school.
After that, I put everything I had into working 15 hour days in a combination of retail and care work, into getting into King's College London, and then into taking that bull by its horns and smashing my first term out of the park. I kind of succeeded, as much as anyone who has a tendency to say exactly what comes into her head can ever smash anything. We are taught that we are a different profession to doctors, and that we work with them rather than under them, which is a notion which I can totally get on board with and which I actually agree with, wholeheartedly. I'm pleased with how the last three months has gone, and I'm certainly grateful for my place at the best faculty for nursing in the country; but I feel suffocated.
I feel suffocated by that closed door, still. Like I'm standing with my face to it with the bolts the other side rattling, reminding me that not only is it locked but that it's out of my reach or control. As if I'm doing everything around that door, to the absolute best of my ability, but almost as a distraction from the door itself. Suffocated by walls of information around me which are reserved for only doctors to know, which it is assumed that I am not able or willing to understand. This might be first year syndrome, but the thought that it might not be makes me want to go back a few years and start again.
In my head, I know that I can have just as a fulfilling life and just as worthwhile a life as a nurse as if I was a doctor. I know that I can learn to prescribe and that I can become a specialist in any field I choose, and I know that the children who I love so much will see far more of a nurse than they ever would of a doctor; but I don't know it in my heart.