Not your typical dayhike to Mt. Maslow

It has been more than a year since I quit my job, left the world of fun and travelling and decided to enter medical school. Every now and then I get to ask myself where I would be right now had my decisions been different. Would I have finally reached the peak of Mt. Pulag or set foot on the hills of Batanes? What would my day job be? Would I have continued as a researcher or entered an entirely different field, like hospital dietetics or food service? Would I have stayed in Laguna or found a new place? Would I finally be in a romantic relationship? The questions are endless, but it will be left unanswered because I already chose a different path.

I am preparing for an exam two days from now, but there is something about nights like this that make me want to assess my life, my current situation. As of this moment, I am sitting in my room, with the clutter on top of my study table, wondering how far I have gone from my original plan. You see, I never really thought, ever, of entering medical school. I even remember myself telling a classmate back in college that becoming a doctor is just for the super intelligent ones. Moreover, my family doesn’t have the means to send me to another five years of schooling. But here I am, trying to remember when the turning point happened.

During my interview when I was applying for a medical school, I said I wanted to be a neurosurgeon because I don’t want other families losing a member just because no one is able to operate and save that member’s life. Maybe I was just bitter because that was how I lost my father. A little drama will always win the interviewers’ hearts, right. But If I am to answer that question honestly, I’d say selfishly that I want to become a doctor because it’s the only reason for me to attain self actualization.

It was in summer, 2009 when I encountered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Probably not the first time, but this time, it struck me deeply, especially the topmost level. How do I attain self-actualization? That moment, I thought the answer was to graduate on time, find a perfect job as a nutritionist dietitian, have a family and then grow old with the person I love. Cliche it may sound, but I was 16 then. Only four years later had I realized what I really wanted to be. I saw myself as somebody that I never even imagined of becoming. I wanted to be a doctor, and not just a doctor,but a kickass neurosurgeon. I’m still actually trying to remember why, of all possible options, I wanted to be a doctor. Maybe there really is no perfect answer, it just strikes you in the heart and that’s it.

That is why here I am, hidden behind these pile of notes, trying to study for my exams. I may not be travelling or hiking right now, but I know that this is the most adventurous trip I have been so far. And this is going to take for a while. Probably forever, since doctors never stop learning. But I am happy, because finally, I am nearing that summit of Mt. Maslow.



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