When nothing is certain, everything becomes possible.
While prepping for college in high school, we’re all pushed to figure out exactly the path our life is going to take and what we want to achieve. Asking an 18-year-old to choose their path right away is a recipe for disaster and only leads to a very hasty decision. In my final year of high school in Kenya, we were brought forms to fill out on where we wanted to be placed and what majors we’d like to pursue. In a class of about 40 students, more than 50% had medicine at the University of Nairobi as their top choice. I chose to follow the crowd.
I had never even been to the University of Nairobi, let alone knew what those majors entailed. I was absolutely clueless to what I wanted to do with my life. I did know one thing though, I had to put up a front and not disappoint my parents with my cluelessness. So I began pulling majors out of thin air from chemical engineering to medicine. I eventually picked medicine, economics, and math. Medicine to fulfill my parents’ dreams, economics and math because I enjoyed calculus. These choices make no sense now and I strongly believe I would’ve been miserable in them, but it was what my 16-year-old self came up with under pressure from home and school.
I remember the feeling of despair and helplessness, the feeling of being defective for not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I felt like a failure because I understood what my parents have sacrificed for me to further my education. It took me years to shed these feelings and be content with the path my life was on. I now try to avoid putting my high school senior brother through the same feelings. I have explained uncertainty is okay, that there is no need to know it all now. It is good to keep your mind open, follow your passions, and learn from your mistakes.I can’t time travel and tell myself this, but I can share what I’ve learned through growing and letting myself experience things.
When the opportunity came to move to the United States, I was thrilled. I liked that I’d have my undergraduate years to pursue passions and learn more about myself before taking the medical school plunge. I would get some time to figure out what I wanted while not completely crushing the medical school dream. In community college, I was finally able to figure out what major I wanted to pursue and what school I wanted to transfer to while I remained open to new ideas and experiences.