Photo: Pixabay

Are you on a conveyer belt?

In the summer of 2013, I was set to matriculate to Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in the fall. So, naturally, I decided to drop out and try to be an entrepreneur instead.

My mother, sister, father, brother-in-law, cousin, another cousin, other-other cousin, other-other-other cousin, uncle … I’ll spare you the rest. They’re all doctors.

I’m Bengali. We heal illnesses. It’s what we do.

One day, I realized I was going to medical school because I didn’t know what else to do with my life. I was pretty good at math and science and most everyone I interacted with in my family was a doctor.

Put another way, I was going to spend $300,000 in tuition and commit to seven to ten years of education (if you include residency and fellowship) because I didn’t have a better answer to “What should I do?”.

I wanted to give entrepreneurship a try, but I knew the chance of failure was high. So if I failed, I wanted to be able to go back to medical school.

I needed a deferral, but Medical schools don’t give deferrals to people who “want to try entrepreneurship.” They give deferrals to people who are doing Teach for America or received a Rhodes Scholarship. They want to be able to say “Look at us. We have students who do prestigious things.” on their website.

I called a meeting with the Deans of Education and Admissions. I told them they should pay me $70,000 a year to create a hyper-accelerated two-year medical school curriculum. Then I should be their first student.

They flatly declined, so I asked if I could have a two-year deferral to try to become an entrepreneur. They said that’s absurd and deferrals are only given to people who are doing Teach for America or received a Rhodes scholarship.

But since I asked nicely, they gave me a year. (!) I haven’t gone back, but it was nice to have the option.

When I walked out of that meeting, I broke the conveyer belt. For better or worse (I’m not quite sure which yet), I took control of my own future. I realized that you don’t have to play by “the rules.”

Are you on a conveyer belt? Do you want to be?

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