Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I chose Virginia / Why I turned down Cornell


I was nearing the end of a long application process to PA schools (aka an extended online dating quest), and had already been accepted to Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. To throw everything in a tizzy, Cornell (in NYC) then decided to accept me... and thus began the two-week brain torture.

I'm putting this in writing as an affirmation of my decision. To look back on, to remember. And to be honest -- I owe all my friends a thorough explanation after all the stress I put everyone through. I have the best support system ever, and I'm so thankful for friends that are willing to step into the agony with me.

Sometimes you don't see it until you're out in the clear. Now having chosen, I feel as if I chose happiness. The pursuit of happiness isn't just some movie theme, but it's gritty, real, and takes courage. If you know me in real life, you know I'm analytical and can overthink every aspect of a situation. I was doing this to the point where I couldn't really make an accurate prediction anymore, and it becomes a guessing game of chance. I found myself evaluating practically every detail of each program, the costs, the pros, the cons, the electives, the classes, the students. Everything from the weather, down to dress code. But I learned that sometimes, even rationale, logic, and thinking everything through can't give you the answers you need.

The Pull Towards Cornell
I put pressure on myself. I believed that most people (normal people) would choose Cornell - hands down - for a variety of reasons. I didn't want to wonder "what-if" in the future -- "what if" I had taken the plunge, "what if" I had gone to NYC, and what if it was meant to be my next "Italy" adventure. I knew I would never voluntarily choose to move to NYC ever, if I didn't now. I knew they had a great program, and would open up the world of surgery to me, equipping me more that field than most schools. The five elective rotations beckoned -- the opportunity to rotate with some of the best hospitals in the nation, to rotate internationally, or even other states. I would get to see things and do things that I wouldn't be able to anywhere else. Simply put, Cornell opened doors - and they were unashamed of it. I wondered if I was passing up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

I did some deep soul-digging -- I think deeper than I'd ever done. It's scary, because coming to terms with knowing yourself is something most people tend to avoid, if possible. We have this idea of who we are, or who we think we are, and we like to keep it that way.

Cornell would've pushed me to places I couldn't ever obtain on my own, this I know. It was the only school I bothered doing a supplemental for, wrote two handwritten essays that I'm actually quite proud of, paid a $60 supplemental fee, and mentally worked the hardest for. I know I would end up being a PA who really knew my stuff.

Coming to terms with myself
But most importantly, I realized I didn't have the edge, the ambition, the competitive nature (or even desire for city life) to live in NYC. In the end, I felt that I would have lost a part of myself. I may or may not have ended up being a more qualified PA in surgery (who knows) but I felt like my humanity was at risk. At the expense of running around, keeping up, and making sacrifices, I saw the ever-looming threat -- what if I burned out by the time I graduated, and ended up losing my passion and desire for wanting to be a PA?

So I told them. It didn't feel like I was turning down a once-in-a-lifetime chance, even though by fact, I was. It was a like a break-up note, of sorts, of how Cornell was an impossible dream that I never thought would come true and how honored I was. I shared about the brain, heart, and the gut, and how nobody tells you which is more important. I said that I almost wished I could be that person, with the personality to thrive in the city and the program, but that I wasn't. It was more difficult than anticipated to write with both your emotions and objectivity.

I learned so much from this process. If you asked me a few months ago, told me I got accepted at both these schools, I'm thinking my rational mind would've picked Cornell. But as things would have it, my heart won out in this case.

As I'm writing this out, I look at the end of my last blog post, where I concluded with: I'm sure my heart will tell me where I need to be.

And it did.
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