I have no idea what I’m doing

May 8, 2019, 1:00 a.m.

“I’m not pre-med.”

“Then, what are you?”

“Good question. I don’t really know.”

I’ve had the above “conversation” many times, and if it’s done anything, it’s only installed a weird sense of confusion within me. Throughout my freshman year, I’ve taken many classes that are categorized as “pre-med” requirements. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I will be trying the human biology core in the upcoming academic year. Yet to the disappointment of many — or what feels like a disappointment, anyways — I am not pre-med.

I’ve come to realize this over time. Without the calling that many other of my pre-med friends have had, I knew I was different, yet I enjoyed these classes that were often heavily STEM-based, and I loved the lab components. At one point, I was even considering being a biomedical researcher, hopefully joining a lab at some higher-ed institution, but then I also learned that the graduate school life may not be for me.

I’ve learned who I am through negation. Quite frankly, I don’t know if that’s the healthiest way. I have learned what I’m bad at — i.e. surgical skills and/or anything that requires fine motor skills. I have also learned what I’m not so bad at — i.e. chemistry, biology, etc. There are also skills and techniques that are somewhere in between.

While many of my peers seem to be set on their major, I am still placing pretty heavy bets on human biology being the one. We’ll be dating in the fall and the winter, and if we don’t work out as a couple, I’m scared I’ll miss the prime age for marriage. All the time I take to “explore and figure it out” is more time I fall behind my peers. This search for a major, for purpose, for what I really want to do in life, is quite frankly exhausting and a poor waste of my energy. It’s also further feeding my impostor syndrome.

Everyone I admire in the professional world shares one common theme. None of them really ended up in the same place they started — and that gives me hope. The most interesting people almost never have a linear path, and, I hope, neither will I.

Even if I do start off in human biology, who knows what I’ll do in life. Maybe I’ll use my skills from The Stanford Daily and flirt with journalism. Maybe I’ll join a nonprofit and use my skills there. Maybe I’ll work in the media industry. Maybe I’ll return to biotech. Maybe I’ll even become a pre-med again.

Who knows?

But, who cares, either? I’ve learned that I’m blessed to have the support of friends regardless. As a good friend put it during one of our chemistry classes, “I’m sure you’ll be successful in whatever you end up doing.” That’s the kind of energy I hope to carry with me, beyond being a non-pre-med.

Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Richard Coca '22 has previously served as editor of The Grind for volume 258, managing editor of Satire in vol. 257, and CLIP Co-chair in vol. 255. He is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Anthropology. Contact him at rcoca 'at' stanforddaily.com.

Login or create an account