It was supposed to be simple.
I get good grades, a great GPA, score high on the SATs, then go to college. My major? Whatever my parents said would serve me the best in the long run so I can use the resulting career to finance my true life passions. No big, right? That's what I thought.
But in 2nd grade, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was: a hockey player. Not a doctor or engineer or pharmacist. And it was because I happened to be good at it in phys ed that week. That was probably the last time I was ever that honest with myself. I was 9 years old.
Somewhere along the way my attention was turned to my studies, and my goals were determined by my parents. I couldn't have friends that were academically mediocre, yet the kids at school that were above average didn't like me very much. I never knew why. All I remember was being lonely for a very very long time. From a pretty young age, I was given the impression that I was not good enough at anything. I got yelled at when I brought home anything less than an A. I had several bullies in school, all with their own bullying style. The few friends I did make I couldn't hang out with regularly enough to develop anything lasting. I never really learned how to make good, strong friendships. No time for that when you're trying to be a doctor.
Fast forward to high school. Grades were ever first on my list of priorities. It's all really just a blur now. All I remember is spending my lunch periods in the library reading mythology, learning to draw anime, and of course, my homework. I remember the bullying not so much lessening but just transforming, especially as I was trying to find my own identity. Let's just say, I was constantly reminded that I was Pakistani and a female…like it was all there was to my existence. Looking back, it's amazing my grades weren't worse than they were given the lack of support at home in addition to it all. I spent a lot of time either in the guidance counselor's office or the nurse's office, just to get away from class.
When graduation came, I was just happy to be done with this place and its people. This was an opportunity to start over! I went to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia not only because I was a nerd who loved the sciences, but because nobody from my class was going there. I mentally flipped everyone off and started fresh! I was going to actually make lasting friendships and be myself without consequence! I was going to show my quality as an intellectual while making my place in the student body. But now, the academic pressure was on like a steamroller.
My mother's dream of me being a doctor was exchanged for my father's desire for me to become a pharmacist (confidentially, I was so sheltered I didn't even know what a pharmacist was until my second year in the PharmD program). You may be wondering why I was pursuing something I knew nothing about. You may even be judging me right now. Well when you've spent your whole life having decisions made for you, whether you like it or not, whether you've resisted like I have or not, it becomes a habit. I was on autopilot for so long, it was just easier to trust my parents to decide these things for me, in spite of my apprehension in doing so. For the first 2 years of college I told my dad I didn't feel right about this decision. I didn't want to do it. His response,” This is good for you. You can do this.” And that was the end of the discussion every time.
In all this time, I had been totally out of touch with my passions. I would doodle in class from time to time, but nothing serious. My artistic skills were stunted for years in exchange for the more practical, logical pursuits of this pharmacy degree. I tried to find my passion in it. I tried to compromise. I learned a lot in the process, but I just didn't care about pharmaceuticals. I cared about helping people, that was for sure. But I wasn't cut out to be a pharmacist!
TO BE CONTINUED…