Sunday, January 3, 2010

If you knew you would fail...

I posted a response just now to ADoc2Be's blog posting, and decided that it was worthy of posting in it's own right. 

Many of us non-trads are burdened (sometimes overly so) by the pressures, fears, and concerns of life as an adult confronting major sacrifices to follow a dream.  Mine is to become a doctor, but that particular goal does not have the corner on all of the above.

So, if you are like us, and you find yourself wondering if you have the mettle to make your dream a reality, I say to you....

You know you will regret giving up (or giving in, out, etc.).

If you knew for sure you would fail in the end, would you give up the journey?

I woke up this morning to my oldest daughter (3) crying in her room with nightmares.  My wife (pregnant with #3) hasn't gotten a full night's sleep in 3 years.  No exaggeration.  I crawled into bed with her to calm her down.

At 6am I kissed her and told her I had to get ready for work.  It had snowed and additional 4 inches overnight, and was -4 as I swept snow from the car windows and started the engine.

By 7am this fine Sunday morning I was dressed head-to-toe in snow boots, heavy-duty coveralls, gloves, thinsulate mask, safety vest and a radio as I trudged through 3ft snow drifts to begin my day in the railroad yard.

In the few breaks I took to do jumping jacks (to get blood flowing back to my frozen fingers and toes) I thought about what I was doing to myself to "possibly" become a doctor.  I say possibly, because nothing is guaranteed.

Between full-time work and school I hardly see my wife (who really should be complaining much more than she does) and kids, I have to decide which bills I can pay each month and which ones get to call my wife endlessly for payments while I'm away, and I wonder "What the HELL are you doing?!?"

All for a chance... just a CHANCE that I could fulfill a dream.  A chance to really provide the life that my family deserves, a chance to really make a dent in the universe by helping others, and a chance to be an example to my kids that hard work and sacrifice are virtuous.

I could lead a decent life without MD at the end of my name. It would be much less stressful to quit school, get out of the railroad yard and work on the long-haul trains (in the comfort of the locomotive cab), and be the cool dad at career day who gets to drive trains all day.

But, I'm not ordinary.  I want to make a difference in the world - to be a pioneer, not a settler.  I want to cure cancer.  (That's not a typo, I really think I can.)

However, that dream is at the end of a very long and unforgiving road.  It doesn't care that I'm human, if I struggle or if I fail.  It only demands perseverance and bit of insanity.

If I knew now that I would fail... I would choose to fail in spectacular form, and know that I gave it my best shot.

Don't quit.


  1. You are going to be an amazing doctor. Your patients are going to be so blessed to have their lives in the hands of someone who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to help them.

    Your story reminds of the book Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs. Dr. Collins was supporting himself through his post-bacc pre-reqs while driving a taxi at night and now he's a surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

    I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Cecil, you can do this. You're an amazing person - and the most brilliant I know. Hang in there!