The first time I talked about my ambition in life was when I was a preschooler. My mother tells me that it was a small interview conducted in my preschool at a YMCA in Edison, New Jersey for the school yearbook. My mother had no idea about any of this until the yearbook itself came into her hands and she read out what her little tot had written — “I want to be a doctor.”
I was just 4 years old then, and I do not remember anything in particular that might have sparked a deep-rooted inclination to pursue medicine as a profession. My father was an engineer, and my mother had earned a degree in commerce. This completely ruled out the possibility of the aspiration emerging from parental influence. It was indeed puzzling then that such a young girl should be so firm in her affirmations.
My mother tells me that her paternal grandfather had wanted to be a doctor. He even began his medical education, but had to terminate it midway to support the boycott movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi during India’s freedom struggle. He could not satiate his desire to become a doctor and wished that at least one of his four sons become one. My mother’s father was hesitant, and instead, took up engineering. My grandfather’s brother became a doctor, but he devoted more of his time to journalism and politics. The dream to become a doctor, thus, remained unfulfilled for one more generation. Then, there was my mom. My mother had deeply longed to be a doctor, but due to certain vision difficulties, she was advised not to opt for such a profession. She never told me about such a family background until later in my life, but her innate yearning unknowingly did spring up in her daughter. What she could not speak of, her genes within me did.
My decision as a 4-year-old remains equally resolute even today. When I turned 10, my mother started talking to me about the various specializations in medicine and asked me to decide what I would want to take up in particular. It did not take me long to decide that cosmetic surgery was my call. Three intentions drove me to this conclusion. Firstly, this was one of those fields that would enable me to pursue my passions of writing and Kathak (an Indian classical dance form) without engaging me in unexpected emergencies. Secondly, having faced appalling situations in my early years, I had decided at a very young age that money undoubtedly would influence my choices as an adult, and cosmetic surgery was indeed a very lucrative career. Thirdly, I felt that this profession was the kind that could spark hope in people. Several people gave up optimism because they had been stripped off their beauty. When they look in the mirror, I want them to be happy about who they are.
Just like my writing and my Kathak, my desire to aspire for medicine defines me as a person. It has become so much a part of my identity over the years, that I have hardly ever imagined myself in the shoes of another profession. People say that one must keep reconsidering decisions that we make at different stages in life. I got a wonderful opportunity to do the same when I took up a study of cataract surgery as a part of my 12th-grade project. Standing in the operation theater, viewing the doctor conduct the surgery, learning about the different tools, watching the patient be treated, the lights, the nurses and the entire ambiance filled me with ecstasy. I felt elated to be in that room, and that day, I could not thank God enough for having guided me towards making the right choices. This was the profession that best-suited me, and I had no second thoughts about it.
Medicine defines me as a person today and has influenced all of my career choices. Many people say that I should have a back-up plan, but no other profession could ever resonate with me as much medicine. My desire to enter the medical profession drove me to take up the biology pre-professional major at MCC. When I took my first human anatomy and physiology course at MCC, learning about bones and muscles and how our body works excited me. Knowing the names of so many of our bones and muscles made me feel a step closer to actually being a doctor. Although this perhaps means nothing when compared to the complexity and rigor of medical school curriculums, the adrenaline rush that I felt as I studied the subject repeatedly made me tell myself that medicine is the world I would love to be in. It emphasized to me that there is no other profession that would give me the happiness that I would receive as an extension of this career. People visit doctors with the hope that the person wearing that white coat will improve their lives for the better. I want to be the person standing in those shoes, wearing that white coat and making a difference in people’s lives.
My mother always told me that if we are born in this world that we take so much from, we should make ourselves worthy of giving back to it. As a child, I faced extremely challenging circumstances and the only thing that helped me get through them was the hope of a better future. As a cosmetic surgeon, I wish to give back this hope to the hundreds of people who wish to look into the mirror and see a better version of themselves, the people who have been deprived of their esteem and those who have lost the hope that anyone can feel good about them. I want to look into their eyes and give them the hope that they are still beautiful human beings. A loss of external beauty is just a matter of their superficial traits being fixed and it cannot define them as a person. I want to be the person who shows them this hope, and that is why I want to be a doctor.