Tomorrow my daughter graduates from college.
She’s going through all the emotions that come with that: elation, mixed with a sense of loss as she leaves behind friends and the much-loved campus. There’s that deflated feeling, mixed with relief, brought on by not having classes to go to, homework to finish, or exams to prepare for. There’s anxiety about getting a job, one that isn’t just grunt work, and one that comes with a decent pay cheque.
I remember going through similar feelings when I was graduating. The future looked both exciting and daunting. And I felt totally unprepared. Sometimes I even felt like an imposter. As an intern, when a patient asked me for an opinion, I thought “Oh my, this man doesn’t know I’m not a real doctor!” In the beginning the only thing I felt confident about was changing dressings of patients in the post-op wards! Gradually, starting drips, drawing blood samples, suturing up lacerations, delivering babies, assisting at surgeries by actually being helpful rather than infuriating the surgeon, writing up case notes professionally, dealing with patients’ queries, all these became second nature. It took only about a year for me to approach work eagerly feeling “hey, I can do this!” This is what I want my daughter to know: after the first unsteady toddler steps it gets easier, less confusing, less scary, more fun. And yes, you’ll make new friends.
Now, many decades later, I look at the lives of my friends from medical college and see that everyone has found success in their own way. They’re quite satisfied with the way their professional lives have turned out.
In India, the kid that gets recruited by Google from an IIT through campus placement interviews makes front page headlines. He is like the only flower that has bloomed in this picture. I took these photographs on Santa Monica boulevard in Beverly Hills a few days ago. I guess all the plants were planted at the same time but only one was in bloom when I passed by that day. I bet the rest have blossomed over the past few days. It’s possible my kid will disagree and place herself in the 2.1% on the Bell Curve that did not bloom well . . . As a mom I can only point to the 95% on the same diagram and hope she doesn’t decide to be contrary. So, this is my message to my daughter and all the kids graduating along with her this weekend: It’s okay, you’re going to be fine . . . but it might take a little time.