What I spent and earned: October 11th – Closure

I suspect this post will be rather lengthy, so let us skip the preamble…

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $24.25
Variable Budget Remaining: $181.56

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $0.00*
Earned To Date: $605.19*
Goal Remaining: ($1,894.81)

I got my MCAT test score results back today and the results were underwhelming. Initially, I was really disappointed. But I should not have been. While I went through the pretenses of studying for the exam, I never really committed and spent a lot of time with my bottom in a chair, doing everything I needed to do to plan to study, or not study, or something entirely unrelated. So when I got my score back today, I was disappointed but I was not surprised.

After the initial onslaught of emotions, my mind began to do what my mind always does when I meet with a challenge: I began to plan my way out of it. And I did that for twenty minutes before I stopped and called a good friend. A friend who has always wanted what I want for me but who isn’t invested in the choices I make. I asked him to go for a walk and he agreed. We walked around for some time and I finally told him my score. I understood exactly what the paths forward were if I wanted to continue. If. What I needed from him was space to consider not doing that. We walked and talked and I worked through all of the reasons why I wanted to go to medical school and I finally settled on something that I had been unwilling to acknowledge for some time: I am not the person I was when I started this journey.

Since my journey began in 2016, I have had different jobs, pursued different interests, realized there were other ways for me to serve my community, and that I could be happy doing something else. However, for a long time, the process of applying to medical school felt unfinished. Like I had stopped, not because I wanted to take a different path but because my debt felt overwhelming, and continuing down this path felt like it traded off with my ability to become more financially secure. I am not even the person I was when I temporarily stepped away from this path a year ago.

Today, I felt like I really had choices. I could retake the MCAT in January and move forward with my application to a smaller subset of schools or, I could withdraw my application from this application cycle and begin again in the spring. I decided to do neither. For most of my life, I have gotten by, in fact, I have done quite well, being moderately intelligent and hardworking. I have been a master procrastinator who buckles down just before the moment arrives, producing strong work that is usually well received. There have been few, if any, negative consequences for this approach to life. What I realized while talking with my friend, who engages life in a similar way, is that this would not be sufficient to pursue a medical education. To pursue medicine, I would have to fundamentally change this behavior/approach…and I am not willing to do that. The time I spend procrastinating is time spent reading, thinking, and engaging other people and things. I also find that the pressure of the moment helps me focus and potentially produce better work than I would without it. Of course, there are times I don’t procrastinate but it is because I am genuinely excited about what I am doing. I was never excited about the path to medical school or what I expected my experience to be if I were accepted. I was constantly looking for narratives that suggested I would have time to pursue other creative interests, to have a life, a family… Medical school has always seemed like something to be survived.

For some time, I was unwilling to acknowledge this behavior/approach. To my labor-conditioned ears, it sounded a lot like…laziness? “To whom much is given, much is expected…” was an oft refrain of my mother’s… To successfully pursue a medical education would require that I change my approach to studying/work. Become a different kind of person. Today, I acknowledged, I am not willing to do that.

After I got back from the walk with my friend, I withdrew from Organic Chemistry II, and I withdrew my medical school applications. And I felt a bit sad, a bit relieved, and a bit excited. There is a chance that I will regret it tomorrow, or the next day, or next year…but I think not. I think I have finally found some degree of closure for this path. And I am genuinely looking forward to walking down the next path, for however long that may be.

As always, I appreciate all of you who have decided to read along and share my journey.

*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

12 thoughts on “What I spent and earned: October 11th – Closure

  1. The fact that you are so emotionally mature and mentally present is a godsend. I made a similar decision regarding a PHD. Every year since has proven it was the right decision.

    However, it’s hard to really know that in the immediate aftermath.

    I pray you have peace, wisdom and clarity in making the decisions ahead.

    Also, congrats on staying focused on your debt freedom.


    • Hello, Cat 👋🏿I would like to thank you for your exceptionally kind words and your willingness to share a bit about your own journey; I hope that I find as much contentment with my choice(s) as you have. Thank you for taking the time to comment.


  2. Hi Afro Penny,
    It sounds like you maybe pursued this because you felt like you had to, like you owed it to your former self ? It is good to be able to recognize that we changed and our dreams and projects changed too. And maybe it was never a good fit for you. I too work better under pressure and at the last possible minute and therefore very fast, I don’t think it’s laziness, I just am that good 😉
    Best of luck to you!


    • Hi Eva…yea, there was definitely a bit of that. Former AP had invested so much time and money…but I’m not her anymore. I don’t even have her debt.

      “I’m just that good.” Stealing this! 🙂


  3. I’m happy for you that you’ve made a decision! I would have fully gotten behind you going to medical school if that’s what you chose, but I’m more excited for this alternate path. I envision that as a doctor you’d help one person at a time, and that would be nice and all, but say you end up as a clinic director at the same medical facility…you could make policy decisions that would help the whole region served by the clinic. I think you can have a larger impact not spending the next four years forcing yourself into a situation you don’t enjoy, not spending tons of money, and instead taking the next step that feels exciting and satisfying. And selfishly I’m excited to read your blog posts in the next months, because there are for sure going to be some exciting, positive plot twists coming up.


    • Thank you so much, Ellen for your support whatever path, and its accompanying whiplash. I think I’m okay with whatever my impact looks like, as long as there is an impact. It is still what “drives” me.

      I can promise few things but I’ll do my best not to be boring…or at least tell a good story. 😉


  4. Hi, I’m glad you found the closure you needed to close this chapter in your book.

    I truly believe that in life there are no “right” or “wrong” paths. It’s about choosing the path that is more right for you. Honestly I think the MCAT score was a blessing in disguise. It was the catalyst that made you realize medical school may not be right for you. And heeeyy better find that out now than 3 years down the line 😅.


    • It really was…I only had a month to study, and it was do-or-die time, and I still couldn’t bring myself to do what I needed to do. As I stared down the barrel of a retake, I just accepted, “This isn’t me anymore.” When I started the journey my work experiences were limited and I was unaware of the other paths that I am now. I am grateful for the time I stepped away from the journey and the opportunity to say, this is REALLY over.

      As always, thank you for all of your support.


  5. I vote for medical school. As a stranger on the internet with no real stake in your future, I say… who ever regrets a fun job title like doctor and a $200k+ salary?!

    I read this post when it first came out and I remember thinking all the things you said DO make you a prime candidate for medical school…

    Moderately intelligent – that’s all you need to get into medical school and complete it
    Hard working- that’s what you need to complete the residency part of your training; people struggle here because it’s a lot of 20 year olds who never really had a full time job or had to juggle multiple obligations…life has been pretty straightforward…as long as your aim is not to be the star/perfectionist, this is achievable… and many of those 20 year olds do this and maintain a new marriage and a new baby, so it’s certainly achievable…

    I think the horror stories of your colleagues tend to conflate medical school and and residency which are two different beasts. Residency is a lot of long hours and not a lot of sleep, but you don’t need to be perfect. And you know that now having had your share of obstacles to overcome; people that tend to pursue medicine are not used to imperfection, so in this area, you are well versed.

    What I used as a metric when deciding on professional school was- if I continue teaching will I get to this salary in 4 years (the time frame of professional school). Public school teacher salaries follow a pay schedule, so I didn’t even have to guess, the answer was a resounding No.

    If pursuing creative interests is the Most important thing to you, how much of your creative interests are you actively pursuing now? And how much do you see yourself pursuing in 4 years.

    I think as you’ve recently learned, work is going to be a constant dance, so Make The Most Money, is my motto.

    Lastly, your underwhelming MCAT score wasn’t a sign to not pursue this just as quitting your job with no backup plan wasn’t a sign that you should pursue this. You weren’t prepared for the MCAT and your job sucked. End of.

    Go to your local state school or somewhere you think you might enjoy living (unless you’re an MBA grad or lawyer, where you go doesn’t effect your paycheck). Go to an HBC. Go to medical school. Take the easiest path and Be a Doctor!!!! Buy yourself choices and opportunity.


    • Hello, MERJ, 👋🏿Thank you for stopping by and commenting. It is so appreciated.

      “…who ever regrets a fun job title like doctor and a $200k+ salary?!” – If this is truly what motivates(d) me, then I would argue there are shorter and easier paths to get there. (For example, the starting salary for an anesthesiologist assistant in my state is +$160K, and it is only a two-year program). Becoming a physician requires a significant commitment and it is not without significant sacrifice. I think in my early thirties (I started this journey at 31 and would have entered medical school at 33, if I had never strayed from my path, and would be graduating next spring), it seemed like the only right/suitable choice and the commitment didn’t seem so significant. I think at that time I was also a bit more…flexible…and thought I could change/adapt who I am to become the sort of person I would need to be to survive medical school (someone who studies minutia constantly, consistently, and with little procrastination; you can’t survive medical school cramming). In my mid-thirties, I just don’t think it is likely. Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior and studying for the MCAT was do or die. While more time would have been helpful, I just didn’t really study. I didn’t want to study. Perhaps if I had been enrolled in a course, had some financial skin in the game…but I feel like, with the stakes being that high, with me needing to perform well on this test or kiss my application cycle goodby, I feel like it should have been that moment. That moment should have found me. Compelled me to do what needs to be done. I thought the pressure that always finds me before an assignment or a project is due, the clarity of idea/purpose and the drive to submit great work would eventually take over with that test deadline looming…it never did. I wanted to perform well on the MCAT…just apparently not enough. And I think that means something…

      “I think as you’ve recently learned, work is going to be a constant dance, so Make The Most Money, is my motto.” Again, even if I were to concede this is true, I don’t think this is the practice of medicine, and certainly not the practice of medicine in the kind of places I would be interested in practicing.

      If money, and by virtue of it, choice and opportunity, are the goal, then a career in tech is a much smarter choice. There are coding camps that take months not years and an industry interest in increasing the number of women (and women of color) would mean I get a look. I think the issue is, it’s never really been about the money. I wish it were. Maybe it needs to be? But I don’t know…it doesn’t seem like I have made the choices thus far in my life for that to be “it.”

      Again, thank you 🙂


  6. as a fellow person who took freaking forever to figure out a life path and is probably not done making big changes, I want to express some solidarity here. Sometimes you just have to explore a path to know that it’s not the one for you — or maybe, as in this case, it’s not the one for you NOW even though it might have been in some other life or at some other point in your life. I’m glad you gave it a shot and also glad you’re holding some space to work through your feelings about it.


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