Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Know They Mean Well . . .

. . . but seriously, my parents are ridiculous. More so than my sexuality, more so than worrying about med schools, more so than academics, my relationship with my parents is the singularly most frustrating thing in my life. Our relationship can be described as tenuous, or perhaps bipolar. I know they mean well, they always do, but they always come across in such an antagonistic way. Sometimes we get along great, sometimes we butt heads (hardcore). My parents are so hardcore in all they do.

My dad called last night to "talk" to me about me applying to public health. In retrospect, I didn't say much and he was able to rant a lot within about 15 minutes. Let's see if I remember what we "discussed" (and that's putting it loosely and mildly) in relative order . . .

1. My dad asked me whether or not I looked at the courses required for the 2 MPH programs I chose. Well, of course I glanced at them, but not in-depth. He then went on to say how HME (Hospital & Molecular Epidemiology) only required 1-2 biostat classes whereas IH (International Health) required more. Somehow, he felt like I wouldn't be able to handle statistics. Seriously. I took calculus 3 and basic statistics, and I survived both. I think I'll manage.

2. My dad then asked why I chose the 2 programs I did. Well, I wasn't qualified/allowed to apply to some programs, and the rest I wasn't particularly interested in. He then pointed out a job posting linked from a link I sent him, because he asked for the link. The job required an MPH in epidemiology, and it only earns $18/hour to $30/hour depending on experience. Somehow, that works out to be about $30,000/year (lower end). He went on about how the pay sucked and all. Well, I asked him what the position was. He said data analyst/research assistant. That explained everything (to me).

3. At this point, my dad practically ranted about how I shouldn't choose a career where the starting salary is below $50,000, and that I should change my plans but now it's too late (for this). I countered with that I'm sure there are plenty of jobs with an MPH that pay in that range, starting out. He just chose a bad example. It's apparent now that he's quite against me applying to public health. Oh well, too late.

4. From here, he transitioned to how I should focus on med schools and nothing else. Well, I had essays and homework that needed to be done. Now. Apparently, all that doesn't matter, only getting into med school. Umm, if I fail my courses, I won't be able to get in anywhere, med school or otherwise. So I think my homework/essays due the next day take priority.

5. My dad also mentioned an open-house presentation, sometime in early April, by a med school in Antigua that they're having in the city where I currently attend university. It is a Saturday. He asked whether or not I was going and I said I didn't know. He was "shocked" at my answer of "I don't know," because this was my future and I should go no-matter-what. Well, I don't know what I have planned for that particular day! I very well may have something going on, I may not, and I would have to see. This was unacceptable and whatever I may have on that day - whether it's a concert, or an event, etc - I should cancel it. Now, I HATE to cancel things I commit to. He also said that I had to register for this open-house session thing, and that I could bring 2 guests. In other words, him and my mom. Great, just what I need, more nagging/ranting directly in my ear as I sit through this.

6. From here, he goes on to say how playing the cello in college had ruined my academics, that if I hadn't played the cello my grades would be much higher. Yeah, like my 3-4 hours of playing the cello per week really had any effect on my grades. Umm, no, it didn't and doesn't. I think research has had a more negative impact on my grades than all the cello playing I've done; but that would be blasphemy to say.

7. My dad ends (and really, this permeates throughout this phone call) about how I don't seem like I'm worried about anything. Or rather that I'm obviously worried, but not worried enough to do something about it. He keeps saying how anxious and worried he is, and how he keeps looking stuff up for me, and all that, but I don't do anything. Well, maybe it's because I have classes and a life to attend to. Also, there isn't much I can do at this point. My parents think I have it easy, that my courses are easy because I'm not taking grad-level courses in my last semester of my undergrad. What kind of logic is that?!

8. My parents also kept mentioning how me taking Chinese this year and a Chinese culture class this semester has been an utter waste of time. Well, let me just say, the Chinese I learn will be more important and useful than anything single thing I learn in any particular biology class. If I do become a doctor, when's the next time I'll need to know the Hardy-Weinberg equation? The answer: never.

What's also annoying/frustrating/infuriating, is that on my parents merge into one entity whenever they lecture my brothers or me. If they're on the phone, my dad will be talking but I can hear my mom in the background commenting and giving commentaries on what my dad's saying. And if my mom's on the phone, I can hear my dad yelling in the background. This is much worse in person, however, so I prefer the phone where I can hold it away from my ear every now and then.

And my brothers and I all have different ways of coping with my parents. My youngest brother is the "ultimate antagonist." He will resist, rebel, and argue endlessly with my dad especially. They can yell at each other for well over an hour until someone's all red in the face. My second brother is the "obedient one." He does everything my parents say, but he does it as minimally as possible to appease them. I also think my parents favor my second brother over the rest of us. I'm the "patient waiter." I prefer to sit there in silence and just take it, and wait for it all to stop. Because I know if I speak up, things will drag out, and I will lose all emotional self-control. This does tend to backfire, as my parents interpret my silence/stoicism as either not listening or not caring.

This is all just ridiculous. I SO wish I were in med school so all this bullshit is over. But I know it won't end there. My parents will subtly urge me to go into a high-paying specialty, like dermatology or anesthesiology. I, however, have no interest in either of those. In fact, I will choose the lowest paying tier of physicians - that of the primary care doctor. I will be a doctor, sure, but I will gladly make less money doing something I will enjoy; and making less money will have the added bonus of spiting my parents. I choose pediatrics. It's what I originally want to do anyway, and I'm sticking by it.


Mike said...

I know it isn't easy to listen to your parents bash/criticize your decisions, but I just wanted to say I think it is awesome you want to go your own way whether it be pursuing public health or not.

W said...

I feel your pain. Have been there and done that. Your parents are always going to offer a critique of something or the other, and you'll just have to put your foot down and be your own individual. It's hard but so worth it. You'll be fine no matter what.