Blog Post #8 - Friday, February 7th, 2020

My Transformation Process

Have you ever felt your life being pulled into a certain direction and the thought of deviating from that path just never seems to work out? Well that's how I've felt when it comes to me being a doctor. I know the idea of being in a hospital brings lots of mixed emotions that vary depending on the individual. To some people, it's a place of anxiety or a constant reminder of sadness and grief. And to others it's the beginning of a new life or a loved one’s second chance at life. I understand both perspectives because like many of you, I have been on both sides of this spectrum at various points in my life. As a little girl, I had always known that I belonged in medicine. I had what some would describe as an odd infatuation with hospitals. Being in one not only made me feel at home but it also heightened my sense of curiosity. As odd as it may sound, hospitals were a place of adventure and comfort for me. As a kid I would always be on high alert trying to catch a glimpse of doctors performing procedures or dreaming into the night about how one day I too will be able to help people around me.

If you know me, you’ll know that my pursuit for medicine has been my driving force for most of my life. It has been my motivation through tough school years and has kept me going even in the midst of failures and doubts. My pursuit for medicine is the foundation of my identity and has defined the path I've walked for almost my entire life. I have always been sure of who I was and the purpose of my existence. That burning question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” that every child gets asked was a question I would look forward to. When I would reply with the answer “I want to be a medical doctor”, I would feel such pride and comfort in my answer. It felt right, it felt purposeful…. It felt like me! But then this summer came along and that warm and comforting feeling I once felt started to dwindle at a rapid pace, and as time went on, I was filled with so much insecurity and doubt. I felt lost and out of place, like the title of an MD in medicine had no place being next to my name. If I'm being honest with myself, my career dilemma didn’t just suddenly become a thing during the summer, rather it’s been eating at me since my first year. The idea of going from a confident girl who knows her purpose and was willing to move mountains to get there, to a confused and self-doubting individual just didn’t sit right with me. So, for almost 4 years, I internalized my doubts and fears, and avoided talking about the future and my plans with everyone (especially my family).

I’ll be the first to say that this was a TERRIBLE idea, and the best way for me to self-sabotage. I had all these emotions building up and simmering inside of me and no one knew the true depths of my pain. To the outside world, I had a plan, a purpose and mission I was tackling head on. But inside I was consumed with fear and the feeling of being a failure. At a point I remember sitting myself down in my room and having a conversation along the lines of “Alright Kelechi enough is enough. You’ve got to figure out where you stand with this whole doctor thing”. So, I decided to make a pros and cons list for myself to try and figure out if I was still passionate about my childhood dream.

My bright idea to resolve this inner conflict was to write the MCAT. If you’re reading this and thinking girl what is going on in that head of yours, your thoughts are very justified (My entire process was literally an example of the saying the blind leading the blind). At this moment what I should have done is have a much-needed conversation with my support system, the people who have been with me and my dream since the beginning (that would have made so much more sense right?). Anyways I studied all summer for the MCAT and wrote it in July. I remember right after I finished my exam I got in my car and started bawling my eyes out in the middle of a Walmart parking lot. These tears were not those cute little droplets that casually roll down your face…...nah, these were ugly hyperventilating tears. I feel bad for anyone who saw me in the parking lot that day because they probably got way more than they asked for. Needless to say, I was a hot mess, and the worst part of the whole experience was my bright idea for clarity just made me more unsure about myself and my journey.

Senior year has been an interesting experience. I started off September with no direction, no concrete plans for life after graduation and a missing sense of passion. Then I took 1 class and all that doom and gloom started transforming into new goals, and redirected passions. In my 4 years at Queen’s, I have never been in a class that has moved me and changed my outlook on life like Environmental Justice. It took 1 professor who showed dedication to her work and a T.A. with the willingness and desire to nurture and build me up to change my entire journey and redirect me on a path of purpose. Every day I went to that class, I felt the same kind of passion and curiosity I felt as a little girl. The joy and satisfaction I felt was so evident and impossible to miss. You could see it in the way I poured into my work and my contributions to class discussions. It was a feeling I had longed for all throughout University but could never quite find. And just like that a new dream was born, a new purpose to redefine and drive me again. This one class helped me realize a passion I have always had and never really paid attention to… a passion for advocacy. What happened after this self-realization was like a snowball effect. I realized soon after that I desired to make change on a global stage, and I wanted to do that through the United Nations. The day I came to this realization, I felt a type of peace I hadn't felt in a long time. And even though in a lot of ways I was starting afresh it all felt right, and the fear of new beginnings I was so afraid of facing turned into excitement

I know I've been talking for a while, so I'll wrap things up. As I look back at my 4 years in University, I’ve learned a few life lessons. 1. When in doubt talk it out! You are honestly doing yourself an injustice bottling up all your feelings because they have to come out at some point. And if you just keep piling it up inside of you, then you might find yourself crying your eyes out in a Walmart parking lot while strangers stare and question your sanity. 2. It’s okay to change your mind or not have a definite answer on what your next move is. Life is never going to be a perfect easy path and most times things won’t go as planned, but it doesn’t mean that it will never happen for you 3. Just because something isn’t adding up now doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Timing is everything, and sometimes you need to learn a couple of lessons and have certain experiences before you are ready to tackle your goals 4. Surround yourself with a good support system because you never know when you will need people to pick you up and fill you with love and assurance.

I hope someone finds strength in my story and they know that they aren’t alone in this. It took me a long while to get to this point ...but I got here, and so can you!

By: Kelechi Agu