Six Years After: A Personal Reflection

Random thoughts on a Friday night, to those who are lost and full of doubts.

Today is a special day for me. If I remember correctly, today marks the 6th year anniversary since I officially quit medical school, an event that not only impact the perspective I have on myself, but also alter the trajectory of my career, relationship, and life path in general.

I still vividly remember the feeling of being an outcast – somebody who does not belong – after handing out my resignation letter to the program director and walk out for the last time from the hospital I’ve been breathing in almost everyday for the past 4 months or so. It was an expression of guilt (for wasting my parents’ money on the relatively expensive medical school), failure (of pushing myself to follow the program after 4 years study), and shame (peer pressure was more intense when you are younger).

Now thinking back, from time to time, I wondered if my decision back then was the correct one, whether I should have finish my study to get my doctor title – as many rational others advocated me – or simply dropped out as I did.

I wished I could see a parallel universe where I did the former, and still come up well. But of course, no such thing exist and for the first few years I had been living in a state of anxiety, afraid of whatever I do next is going to be a mistake. Eventually the feeling numb out and I got carried away with my routine and forgot the issue.

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Yesterday morning, I woke up from the warmth of the sun shining inside my bedroom with its ray on my feet. It was a wonderful summer here in Montreal and despite the city going bustling back from the pandemic, there is a quiet and peaceful moment that day.

As usual , I checked my phone for important emails and made myself a large jug of english breakfast tea, before grabbing one chocolatine I bought days before. My boss sent me some jokes via email, which we had been trading the night prior.

I’m excited to start the day, working on a project I have been assigned on before. As a recently promoted analyst, I have to continue deliver to move ahead in the firm. But mind you, I love the work I do now, and even excited to do it as it could translate to monetary benefit for myself.

Life is good. My family is relatively healthy and economically secure. I’m earning well to support my lifestyle, and I have a decent relationship with my girlfriend and few other close friends.

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When you are hiking, often times there is multiple paths you could take to reach the top. There is a short path with a steep elevation, there is longer path with easier hike, and there is also a long path that goes around the mountain before resuming to the path that actually lead to the peak, which is your destination.

Sometimes I like to think myself taking the later. It could be categorized as a time-wasting and unnecessarily long hike. From a matter of efficiency, this is definitely not the best way to reach the peak, but sometimes it route us to beautiful landscapes along the way and taught certain skills that we may need later on. More importantly, when we are hiking, is it really reaching the destination that is so important, or the experience along the way? Do we not eat delicious food for the pleasure of the tongue rather than the stomach?

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My life was not always this easy. Learning something completely new could be a difficult and stressful endeavour, although having a passion in the subject could really helps.

In the three years after quitting medical school (June 2015 – June 2018), I have been busy like a mad man. During the period, I finished two Masters degree (one in local uni and one in top global uni), passed 3 levels of CFA exams, 2 levels of FRM exams, immigrate to Canada (passing B2 level of French exam), and found a permanent job there.

If there is anything I’m thankful (and proud) for myself, that is having resilience – some of my colleagues and friends who have Bachelor degree in finance told me I have robot-like discipline – and clear goals in life. And guess where I got those traits? You are right, medical school, where most students are forced to cram impossible amount of materials in short period of time, which force you to maintain some sort of inhuman level of absorbing knowledge and thinking it through in medical cases.

I also think that having your personal goals aligned with whatever you are doing is important to excel in life. It is as if we are sailing with a tailwind instead of trying to find an excuse for ourselves.

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Life does not always go according to what we want. Sometimes we are lost, but more surprisingly many people actually does not know where they want to go (talking in terms of life goals and career interest). I was lost, but now I am not and in between I tried to benefit from the tailwind to go faster.

I had arrived in the first checkpoint. That was three years ago. Last month, I passed the second one. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue sailing to my next one while purportedly deviating from the path from time to time.

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Two parting quotes to end the piece. Many MBA graduates would agree with this:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. – Steve Jobs

And the second is from one of my favourite song, “My Way”, which most of you must have known:

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out

I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

About Journeyman

A global macro analyst with over four years experience in the financial market, the author began his career as an equity analyst before transitioning to macro research focusing on Emerging Markets at a well-known independent research firm. He read voraciously, spending most of his free time following The Economist magazine and reading topics on finance and self-improvement. When off duty, he works part-time for Getty Images, taking pictures from all over the globe. To date, he has over 1200 pictures over 35 countries being sold through the company.
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