Sometimes in life there is a pivotal moment when you know that you just can’t keep going on the way you’ve been living. Something’s got to give and you have two options: shit or get off the pot. Choosing between making a change or staying where you are can feel daunting, so you find yourself trapped between the two, in a purgatory of indecision.
The prospect of change requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and do things we might be afraid to do. We have to take a leap into uncharted waters, unsure if we’ll sink or swim. This can easily entice us to stay in our comfort zone. But if we can’t bring ourselves to change, we risk living a life of misery, dysfunction, or regret. You may feel like you can’t stay where you are, but you’re too afraid to move forward. You remain stuck in this purgatory of indecision.
As a teenage girl and into my twenties, my plan was to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. I started working as a pharmacy technician a few months after graduating from high school and continued this while going to college. After I completed all the prerequisite courses, I applied to a few pharmacy schools. Imagine my surprise and utter disappointment when I read rejection letter after rejection letter. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accepted. I had excellent grades, a good PCAT score, and pharmacy experience. It seemed unfair. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Why wasn’t I good enough to be accepted? How could I have failed? What in the hell am I going to do with my life now? I had busted my hump for years to meet my goal of becoming a pharmacist and now it was being flushed down the shitter.
One of the pharmacy schools I had applied to sent my information to the University of Maryland Department of Medical and Research Technology, so they sent me information about their program. When I read through it and saw Blood Banking as a specialty, I had that “Aha!” moment. I had a special interest in Blood Banking after I needed a blood transfusion during surgery to straighten my curved spine in 2004.
I was still working as a pharmacy tech after getting rejected by multiple pharmacy schools and saw the direction the pharmacy profession was going in. I didn’t like that insurance companies dictated so much of patient care. They’ll cover one type of insulin but not another similar insulin. They won’t pay for this asthma medication but they’ll pay for an alternative. And they change their mind every year on what list of medications they choose to cover. I don’t believe an insurance company knows better than a patient’s doctor what medication works best for the patient.
So what do I do now? Do I keep trying to apply to other pharmacy schools or pivot and apply to med tech school? I decided to get off the pot and apply to med tech school. It provided the same reasons I wanted to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. Plus, I had this personal connection with Blood Banking after my blood transfusions. I was both excited and relieved when I was accepted into the program and worked as a Blood Banker for 11 years after graduation.
The purgatory of indecision is an awful place to be. It is fraught with doubt, shame, anger, and overwhelming amounts of fear. Despite that, sometimes it still isn’t enough to push us in a particular direction. Our fear acts as a dysfunctional voice that eventually grows louder and can become the only one that you hear. Fear, along with self-doubt, whispers “you’re not good enough” or “you can’t do anything right.” It may even convince you that you’re inadequate, unlovable, or a failure. It can feel like there is a constant tug of war going on inside of you.
If we choose to not listen to that dysfunctional voice, then we can subdue it. When it says we aren’t good enough, we can choose to believe that we are enough. When the voice tells us we can’t do anything right, we can choose to know that we are doing the best we can and that is always right. When that pesky voice taunts us with feelings of inadequacy or failure, we can choose to have trust in our own potential. And when the dysfunctional voice tries to convince us that we are unlovable, we can decide that we are worthy of love.
We don’t have to remain stuck in unsatisfying situations. And we don’t need to make big changes all at once in order to live fulfilling lives. Change can be scary and uncomfortable as fuck. But small shifts can lead to huge transformation over time. The way out of the purgatory of indecision is to simply get started and to keep on going.