Today, I am writing based on another one of the daily prompts from the Daily Post because I am just not feeling any original thought. The prompt is “When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?”
When I was 16, I was in the 11th grade taking 6 courses even though the day only actually held 5. I was in every club and musical group I could get my hands on. I was moving my way up in the cadet world and preparing to spend my summer teaching music.
In case you can’t tell, I was pretty driven at 16. Driven almost to a fault. The year I was 16, I got my band masters, straight As, and two university credits (I didn’t get the third that year, and it is still an embarrassment to me to this day).
If you were to ask me where my life was headed when I was 16, I would have told you that I was going to go to university (somewhere preferably not where I wound up). I would go to school, likely become a nuclear medicine technologist or maybe a respiratory therapist. Maybe after I finished Nuc Med, I would go abroad to do my masters. Get a job in research, because I don’t really know if I would like working directly with patients. A nice laboratory job. Make a significant contribution to the scientific world.
I might have told you that I was still considering music as a degree option, although all hope of that was lost when I realized studying music in excess took some of the fun out of it for me (the 6th class was an IB music course, which on top of my usual band, orchestra and choir commitments was a bit much). I figured that out before the end of 16, though.
I would have told you that I wanted to move away. That I wanted to see the world and that I definitely wanted to study elsewhere. I wanted to live on my own. I saw no need for pets, although I would have considered something strange or exotic like a lizard or a snake.
I had no plans to be married. I thought a nice age to consider settling down might be around 27 or 28, maybe even 30. Definitely no kids until my career was fully established. Likely not before 30.
I intended to remain friends with my high school friends. But, to meet all sorts of new people at my new schools.
I planned to stay just as busy as I was. There is nothing wrong with being busy most days and weekends. I figured I would join the reserves and teach cadets and band and volunteer in different places.
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time or know me at all, you can tell that my life did not turn out as I planned. And I think it is a good thing. I still did some of the things I hoped and dreamed of, just not necessarily all of them or in the order I intended.
I did the whole Nuc Med thing, but I did it at home and then followed it up by going to med school (away), something that was not at all on my radar. My travels have taken me to a number of places, but not in the same ways I imagined as a teen. I lived away from home in a number of different cities.
I discovered that I actually love patients and dislike laboratory research. That I want to make significant contributions to science, but not on the imaging side of things but in cancer care. I fell into a summer job that blew the whole teaching music to a bunch of teenagers out of the water and changed the trajectory of my career.
I came to the realization that sometimes life isn’t about how much you do, but the quality of what you do and what you and others get out of it. I started to do music for fun, not just as a requirement. I cut out optional not enjoyable activities slowly as I got busier in medicine. I changed some of my priorities from what looks good to admissions committees to what feels good when I am involved.
I gave up on the whole cadet thing. I didn’t want to be a minion to the reserves. The politics were taking the fun out of the teaching and to be honest, I started to have different priorities. This is probably one of the changes that I think would most surprise my 16 year old self and one of the ones that I still regret a little. I loved teaching. Especially marching band stuff. If grown-ups where I lived were in marching bands, I would totally join. But, I also get that it is too late to go back. I have too many other time constraints. I could never give the 100% it needs.
I got married. We want to have kids. And we have a cat (so much for the lizard, our apartment building doesn’t allow reptiles). And all before my magical 28 cut-off. This would probably be the most shocking thing, even beyond the giving up with cadets and the whole liking patients and doing medicine thing. I was always independent. I didn’t date very much. And I was raised in a family who taught me that marriage is for life, but also something worth waiting until you are older for. Same with kids. I agree, but I had it figured out younger. And it worked.
Some things aren’t that different. I live away from home… Except I don’t like it that much anymore. I am still best friends with my two best friends from high school and I recently reunited with our third friend. We still plan to have babies at the same time (or close to it). I am still driven to a fault and take on too much and put too much pressure on myself (but now I focus more on God to provide me with strength and judgment). I am still not done with schooling and won’t be until I hit 30. And I still teach, just medicine instead of music.
Am I happy with how things turned out? Yes. And I think my 16 year old self would be shocked and occasionally appalled, but overall would realize that it is the same old Trisha in there somewhere. I don’t think my 16 year old self would believe all of it. But, such is life. We change as we grow up and have different experiences. Otherwise, we would just be kids forever.