Confused and Scared

Question:
Hi PN! I love the Alice books and am so glad to have discovered them 6 years ago. They have really changed my life and my perspective on it.
i’m currently a sophomore in high school, and I know I have more time to think about this, but lately I’ve been thinking about my future career, and I’m really leaning towards being a doctor. However, my older sister is already at a well-regarded private school on a scholarship, studying to be a doctor (she’s currently a sophomore as well). I feel like…I don’t know, if I decide to pursue this career, I’ll just be copying her. I already feel like it since I’m doing all the same things she did when she was in high school (I guess I am using her hs experience as a sort of guide map for college applications). And I’m afraid I’ll end up failing at becoming one, and she will be successful and I’ll be seen as the failure child, again. My parents are already unhappy with the way my high school career is shaping up and I feel like I’d be placing an unnecessary burden on them…what with med school and stress and such. Plus, I am not that great at science (I’m more of an English-history-politics person but I don’t know if i want to pursue a career in those fields.) I could always go into law or something..I just don’t know what to do. I’m confused and scared all at once, but my parents don’t seem to understand that and I don’t think they ever will. 

Phyllis replied:

 

Your email reminds me so much of myself when I was in high school.  I had a beautiful, talented older sister, and I copied her in every way I could.  She talked the school into letting her take Latin instead of home economics.  So I took Latin.  She took classes in oil painting, and so did I.  She tried out for the operetta and senior play, and won major roles in each.  I tried out for each, and got a major role in the senior play.  She sang with the madrigals.  I sang with the madrigals.  But I always felt I was never quite as good as she was.  The only thing I did on my own was write stories.  I had my first one published when I was 16.  But I rarely talked about it, and certainly never told my friends.  Every so often I sold a story, and was thrilled, yet I kept trying to be like my sister.  Then, when I desperately needed money to get through college, I found I could pay much of it myself by writing and selling stories, even though it took me ten years to get my degree.  My advice to you is to clear your mind of everything else, and pretend you are starting new.  Each day, ask yourself what you are enjoying the most, and what you do the best.  If you could have any job you wanted ten years from now, what do you think would make you happiest?  You don’t have to decide anything right now.  You’re still in the exploring stage.  But for now, put medicine and law on a back burner and tell yourself you can have any job you like:  a veterinarian, a caterer, a chef, a costume designer, a social worker, a history teacher, a camp director, a writer…..   You WILL find yourself if you concentrate on what you do best and most enjoy.

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