Several months from now, I will look out onto the the runway at LAX or John Wayne, prepared for take off to my future. It may be my last Californian sunset as I sit in an air conditioned coach, too late to feel the dry, warm air of my past. Those hours will be my most torturous and emotional hours ever.
[Before you regret reading this, I'm going talk about my experience with religion, mostly Christianity. Yea, not the most original idea, but I feel like writing about it.]
Let us find a common ground: We were all exposed to religion at one point in our lives or another. Whether if you accepted it as you were raised, converted to a life-changing faith, or rejected it, it's almost impossible to never encounter the subject of religion in our society. Suburbs outside the Bible Belt have streets of churches, temples, and mosques (but mainly churches), and people will line the streets with pickets saying that God hates gays or hand out bibles near public schools. Even when we try to exclude religion in public schools, it becomes a hot topic when a teacher makes a controversial comment about Christianity, which I dropped out of.
*** Side note: In this post let's just say Christianity is a religion. I know some others define it specifically as a relationship, but I'm writing this post and I'm going with the general definition that Christianity is a religion. ***
And then at one point, we question. Admit it! Whether or not it shook them, I'm sure event the most devout Christians are confronted with essential questions at one point or another. I started questioning when I learned about evolution in 7th grade. Before that, I identified myself as a solid Christian, going to church almost every week, sang worship hymns. Even when I went to China, which included mostly Buddhists and atheists, I proudly held monotheistic Christian-ness.
Anyway, back to evolution: "You mean we weren't humans before!?" I thought, staring at the classic picture of chimp followed by more modern primates and finally the modern human. My science teacher limited her argument, saying something like, "The evolution theory hasn't been proven yet, blah blah blah, ... still the issue of Adam and Eve... blah blah blah." That last part translated into "Don't sue me," so I ignored it and delved into the internet about evolution and why people don't accept it. I learned about how Darwin himself was a Christian, deeply troubled by this findings about his conclusion in The Origin of Species. I asked every devout Christian I know, and they immediately said it's bluff. Then I went back to the WWW. and looked for others who believe in evolution, leading me to Google Atheism ("Wow! There are so many of them!"). I still went to church periodically afterwards, but my attendance became rare, and finally, I stopped going.
I had to choose between science and faith, and I chose science. Yes, it's because evolution has some extent of logical, concrete evidence not based only on beliefs, blah blah blah. But it's not just that. I tried rereading the Bible to understand rather than be preached at, but I couldn't bring myself to logically comprehend even the first few pages of Genesis.
Long story short, I finally concluded that I don't want to be a Christian anymore because of my skepticism. However, when I feel emotionally or morally lost, or that I have to make a big decision, I still exclaim, "God, help me..." by instinct.
[Well, that was chapter one of my post about religion. Since I don't want to think about religion too much, I'll post one post about religion per year. Pretty long-term, but I like staying in the secular world. For more about religion, stay tuned for 2012.]
I'm seventeen-years-old, and I really want to be a surgeon. I want learn the minute details of the human body in order to cure one, and combine science, technical skill, hard memorization, and humanitarianism in a career I will enjoy for the rest of my life. But at what cost? The other day, my aunt told me that if I'm lucky, I'd be out of medical school by the time I'm thirty.
"Yea!" I agreed. Thanks for info, Auntie. "I'll become a doctor by thirty then!"
"Thirty years is a long time..." she said, as if hinting at something. Wait, what!?
"What's wrong with thirty years?" I asked.
"What about getting married?" she asked/told me.
"Noooo!" I exclaimed. "I don't want to get married! I'd rather become a doctor than get married!"
I probably sounded like an immature five-year-old who believes in cooties, but I threw a sigh. Perhaps marrying before a desirable age is a "you'll understand when you're older" thing, but as of now, I see it as a burden. Men can marry when they're well beyond thirty (ehem, Rupert Murdoch), but I always see books/movies/shows about career-focused women in their 20s and early 30s worrying that they haven't married or long-term dated anyone.
I know I will face these because-I'm-a-female challenges before I even set foot in college, but I can't just wait for these barriers to go away and let my brain cells rot in Seventeen magazines. I need to break these barriers and assert myself as a peer, a colleague, and a doctor (who just happens to be female).
Okay, I guess, like every other teenager my age, I change my mind about a lot of things, including leaving home. I'm not doing a complete 180, I'm still leaning towards studying in the East Coast but now with less antagonism towards what I will leave behind.
This happened after I took an anthropology class at the local university. Even though I'm only taking one class there and the students in the class aren't very sociable, I feel like I have already assimilated into campus life because of the independence and routine it provided me. Everyday, I eat lunch at a different restaurant at the local shopping center before heading off the library to study for two hours. Then, I head off to my Anthro class. Wow! I feel like a real college student (Pinocchio reference)!
Does this mean I revoke my dreams of forging a new life on the other side of the country? No way. I'm keeping those dreams. The only change is that I look towards the East Coast as a personal choice, instead of a place for refuge; and vice versa, I will look back at SoCal as a place where I matured, instead of an experience I'd rather forget.