Exam results and clarity

There’s a moment of clarity that comes right after closing doors and burning bridges.  Sometimes that clarity brings peace, but sometimes it’s painful and bittersweet.

I got my exam results back Sunday.  It honestly feels like forever ago.  The moments since then have been a roller-coaster of emotions for me.  I had put off deciding on a career path and university course until my exam results came out, so there were difficult decisions for me to make.  Decisions so difficult that when I should have made them months ago, I didn’t.  My options looked something like this:

1. Medical school in Hong Kong.  Not sure whether I’ll get in or not with my grades, but certainly worth a try.  I think I’d be a decent doctor.  I think I’d even find it meaningful to be a doctor.

2. Engineering in Canada.  By far the best safety option.  I can’t say engineering thrills me.  I don’t even have a very good idea of what they do.  But it’s vaguely sciencey, and it’s a degree that leads to a career, and it’s achievable, which makes it ideal as a safety choice for me.

3. Going to Cambridge and trying to switch to medicine.  I actually didn’t make the conditions of my offer from Cambridge, but since I only missed the conditions by one mark in one subject, it would be worth appealing.  My parents want me to choose this option.  It’s the perfect environment for me.  I’ve always learned better in a smaller-group setting (like the Cambridge tutor system), and having a university full of interesting people doing interesting things might make it more likely that I’ll actually be able to make friends and be happy there.  At the moment, there are few people I consider friends or acquaintances.  I think I’d be happy there (or at least as happy as my depression will ever let me be).

Guess what I decided to go for?  I chose to wait for medical schools in Hong Kong to get back to me and to keep engineering in Canada as a safety option.  Against what seems to be every single person in my life saying that Cambridge is what’s going to bring me the most joy, I chose not to appeal the rejection.  I wrote an email to Cambridge, burning my bridges behind me, and now I have clarity.  There’s a certain relief in that.  In the certainty that I can no longer change my mind, and whatever happens, happens.  On the flip side, though, I’ve been crying for over an hour and couldn’t stop.  I had reasons for not going to Cambridge (most of them bad ones), but they don’t really take away the pain of losing an opportunity I might never have again.  I’m afraid I made a mistake.  When I sent that email to Cambridge, I was more afraid of changing my mind.  The fact that I was so afraid I might change my mind probably means that deep down, I want Cambridge.  I think not-so-deep down, I want Cambridge.  But I also know I’m not ready and I’m not willing to take that chance.  Because of that, there’s a certain bittersweet clarity I have now.

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