If you’re sure of one thing, it’s that you don’t want to become a doctor. If you’re sure of another, it’s that your parents do want you to become a doctor and will stop at nothing to make sure you achieve this goal.
There’s good reason that your parents want you to become a doctor — it is the holy grail of professions — and everything you’ve accomplished in life has shown that you are among the best. You spoke your first word at the age of 10 months, sooner than anyone else’s kids. As a toddler, you performed complex cosmetic surgery on an American Girl doll, wielding your Fisher-Price doctor’s kit with remarkable dexterity as your family watched, mouths agape. Even in your elite preschool, you were the only one in your class capable of counting to one 100; when your teacher asked you what your favorite number was, you said, “100,852.” She fell to her knees, astounded. In middle school, Ms. Smith, your sixth-grade science teacher, informed your parents that your Styrofoam representation of the solar system was the best she’d ever seen. No one else had ever accounted for Pluto’s abnormal orbit.
High school didn’t knock you down a peg; it reaffirmed your greatness. You studied the most, received the best grades and won your teachers’ affection. Your junior year, you worked in a cancer laboratory with a doctor well-respected in her field — a close friend of your parents. You microscoped, Bunsen-burned and Erlenmeyer-flasked your way to negligible scientific advances and a great recommendation letter. After checking your SAT scores on the College Board website, you cried tears of joy for the first time. Then, you were accepted to Yale. You said goodbye to your best friend, who happened to be your chemistry teacher, and headed off to school. And suddenly, you realized you didn’t want to be a doctor anymore.
It’s too late to explain this to your parents; when you tried in October, they called the head researcher of your lab and staged an intervention in your living room. You even suggested that you were considering a field just as honorable — law. You tried explaining that most people respect lawyers as much as they respect doctors and, crucially, that saying your child goes to law school sounds about as impressive as saying your child studies medicine. You thought you had convinced them that this was an acceptable switch until you received a call from your Mayo Clinic cousin, urging you to reconsider.
You’ve covered all the angles: the “I don’t think I’ll be happy in this field” angle, the “Med school is expensive, and what if I don’t get a job?” angle and, most absurdly, the “I am passionate about something else and want to pursue it so that I don’t look back and wonder what could have been” angle. Weak.
You’ve been forced to get creative with your potential solutions, one of which is the “Thoreau Method.” The first step: run away. After a week of police searches, helicopter flyovers and the complete and utter devastation of your parents’ lives, they will forget that that they ever wanted you to become a doctor! In the meantime, you will be hidden away in a musty log cabin on a serene lake, pondering the human condition. When you reemerge, your parents will be so relieved that they will neglect to confirm your enrollment in a Medical College Admission Test prep class. You’ll become a media sensation — missing persons are a big hit — and your autobiography will end up on Oprah’s Book Club reading list.
You’ve also considered the “inventing Facebook” option. In “The Social Network,” Jesse Eisenberg decides he wants to join an exclusive Harvard final club, steals an idea from two Olympic rowing hunks and makes a billion dollars — all in two hours. If some guy in Alpha Epsilon Pi can meet Justin Timberlake, you can too. Plus, it’s tough to see the looks of disappointment on your parents’ faces behind a thick stack of money. You could even buy new parents.
The last possibility is to tell your parents that you’re an adult and want to make your own decisions. Tell them that, if you decide your future based on what they want, everyone will end up miserable. Say that you know they want what’s best for you but that you also know you won’t be happy doing exactly what they have in mind.
Or maybe you should just hide in a transcendental pondside cabin.