So tell me what you want

What you really, really want.

Perhaps doors have closed, or you never opened them. Where you’re at is good enough, if not great. Maybe there was something you would like to have done but ‘missed the boat’? Maybe you didn’t recognise it at the time or always knew it was unrealistic. Mustn’t complain...

When I was a teenager I didn’t have much of an idea about careers. I didn’t want to be a housewife (then a legitimate option) (mother) or work for a bank (father) and was dubious about the reasons for their choices. My mother would have said it wasn’t a choice, it was what women did (‘woman’s highest calling’, said she). I knew WWII had interfered with my father’s career. He would have studied maths or physics.

Sheltered, constrained and socially isolated, I didn’t have the confidence to go for an appealing, charismatic, people-based career such as medicine. The one thing going for me was my intellect, so throughout my teens I cultivated the persona of one whose mind was on higher things. I said what I thought was expected. Developing unrecognised bipolar disorder during this period further held me back.

Intellect took me a long way. I loved science, got a first class degree and stayed on to do a PhD, as people did. My research was on snails. I realised about half way through that my chosen beast had absolutely no agricultural, medical, economic or any other sort of significance and we had reached the end of our road together, though I did finish my thesis.

Then I met a friend who remarked that I would make a good doctor. The flame was lit. But I was wary of being a student for ever. Persuading myself I was doing the sensible, responsible thing, I became a management trainee with a large firm in the food industry.

But I hated it. When I returned to university a few months later for my PhD viva, for the first and only time I made an appointment with the Careers Service. It was when the interviewer suggested I might want to do a law degree in my spare time that I suddenly blurted out ‘I always wanted to do medicine!’

There was a very, very long silence while our gazes locked. Then he simply said ‘So why don’t you do it’?

And in that moment I realised the only thing stopping me was me.

Now don't go wasting

My precious time

Get your act together we could be just fine.

It wasn’t easy, but I did it, and it is fine.

A Moodscope member.

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