I & D

In my life, I'm so used to being the underdog. I'm so accustomed to being disadvantaged. I'm so used to people thinking less of me, whether it was because they were wealthier than me, or that I was Asian, or that I wasn't Asian enough. I was too short or too fat or something. And I've spent my life proving them wrong. I won awards, I took the hardest classes, I smashed every standardized test, I kicked the shit out of the MCAT, I got into med school, and on graduation day at medical school, a funny thing happened.

You'd think that graduation should be a happy time, but I was scared witless. Walking into the auditorium, I couldn't imagine a greater feeling of panic. I had nothing left to prove. I had no one holding me down.

And it was scary, because I realized then and there that one of the greatest motivating factors I've had in my life is proving other people wrong about me. Nothing made me feel more wonderful than the biting envy of Asian parents who had scoffed at me before now grinding their teeth knowing I was in med school, and their first born was cleaning dishes for $5/hr.

And without anyone holding me down, I felt a little empty, and it was hard to feel the drive to succeed anymore. I'm doing fine now, but there are two things that I've never been able to let go: my low self-esteem, and my bitter resentment.

After so many years and years of being told that I was less, I can't help but believe it. And I didn't see it before, but I do now, and sometimes it tears me up. I'm a doctor, dammit! I've gone to school for 8 years, hold a bachelor's degree and MD, have a job, and I'm damn good at it too. But when I look in the mirror, I can't help but see something less. And now, I can see it in my life, and it burns me that I can treat myself so horribly, that despite what I've done, in my heart I really believe all the doubters. And that just fuels my resentment.

There's so much resentment in my heart, from secretaries and paper pushers to God Himself. I've spent so long stoking that resentment, and now, I don't want to let it go. Why should I? I've been treated like shit in my life by more people than I care to remember. I've suffered. They haven't earned my forgiveness.

My friend West Coast (I don't know when I decided to give everyone nicknames, but hey, what the hell), he's very wise sometimes. "No one's paying you to carry that around." He gave me a book. The book is about forgiveness. I'm supposed to forgive people: God, my father, all those shitty little prep school bastards. I don't want to. Why should I? I don't want to grow as a person anymore. I've done that enough.

The one true thing about personal growth is that it is exceptionally painful and arduous. It is like lancing a boil. If you've never incised and drained an abscess, have fun. The area is sore and indurated, actively inflamed. The scalpel blade, although so tiny and so sharp, hurts like a branding iron. Then, you have to squeeze the pus out, and it's enough to make a grown man wimper to watch. And 3 days later, it's better and life moves on.

My resentment hasn't come to a head yet. Maybe when it does, my life will come crashing around me, but for now, I'll let it fester. And I'll read the book, and see if maybe there's hope for me yet.


TigerLily46 said...

I don't know when everyone decided it was bad to hold grudges. I think they sometimes keep you away from people who are poisonous. A grudge is a self-defense tactic as long as it doesn't raise your blood pressure.

jean said...

I, too, felt that way for years. Still do occasionally. It gave me the drive that many Korean parents want in their kids. I'm slowly letting that go so I can pursue other things in my life - the things that I want to do...without feeling the need to please or prove myself to others.

Nice simile.