Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ego (Again)

Interviews are over and done with. I’m flying back home now from the final one, and in two days I’ll be beginning the long and unpleasant journey back to my site in Liberia.

Looking back, it was pretty ridiculous of me to be so upset by all of the medical school rejections. I actually did pretty well – all of the schools at which I was offered interviews were darn good schools. So even if I don’t get in at this point, I’m feeling a lot better about the prospect of reapplying.

Of course, it goes without saying that I very much hope that I do get in somewhere. Aside from the expense and hassle of reapplying, I also can’t help but feel as though the whole application process brings out the worst in me. I have an ugly streak of insecure arrogance that I’m ashamed to admit has been exacerbated during this ordeal. As I mentioned in a very early entry, one reason (among many) that I was attracted to Peace Corps was that I have a tendency to base my self-worth on extrinsic factors, such as grades and scores. I wanted to do something that was intrinsically beneficial, something that would move me away from the mindless competitiveness of high school and college. I hoped that Peace Corps – an environment with no grades, no scores, and altogether almost no outside evaluation of competency – would help me to sort out my priorities, and to become more confident in myself and less reliant upon others’ evaluations of me.

But the fact that, in the end, I ended up deciding to apply to medical school suggests that, to an extent, I failed in my goal of being less dependent on external measures of worth. True, I have very solid reasons that I want to get an MD, reasons that have nothing to do with ego: a strong interest in the biological and social sciences; a desire for stability but also flexibility in my career – the flexibility to work in the clinical and academic worlds, and to work in the US or abroad; a realization that I will be a much happier and more fulfilled person if I work in a field that directly benefits others. But at the same time, I’m very much aware that the status and money that are a part of the medical profession are also important to me. And there is an embarrassing, immature part of me that wants to say to all the people who made me feel stupid and inadequate (intentionally or unintentionally) during high school, college, and my year at Georgia Tech: “Suck my metaphorical dick, assholes. I got interviews at good medical schools. Fuck all y’all.” (Which is particularly ridiculous because the only person I can definitely say has consistently made me feel stupid and inadequate throughout the years is myself).

Of course, there’s a very good chance I still won’t get in anywhere. But even if I don’t, there’s a part of me that feels very relieved that at least I got as far as I did. At the same time, there’s a different part of me that feels pretty crappy that my reason for feeling better is still so empty and status-oriented.

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