The choices in life…

With no intentions of underestimating the profession of doctors (particularly in Indonesia), I would like to share a bit of my experience which leads me to this gratitude that I failed the National Test (SPMB) for Unpad Med School back in 2003 (and I never even wanted to move to Bandung!) and UI School of Dentistry in 2004 (and I never even wanted to be a dentist!) — clearly I didn’t know what I really want back then.

Maybe God is finally showing the answers to my questions back then: WHY did I fail to escape this mad scientist world? After being such a good and nice and religious girl all this time… Why, God? Whyyyy?

Well, to answer questions with questions: why settle being a doctor when you’re capable of something “better”? :mrgreen:



I caught the most unimportant yet most irritating disease ever: INFLUENZA. And no I’m not being a drama queen, but when you can’t breathe for weeks and your head is all heavy while you must keep working 24/7, you don’t have many options but to visit your nearest doctor. Even if he’s young, just graduated, and sees you as one of his experimental rabbits.

Doctor: “If this condition persists, you may want to have your blood checked.”

Me : *shrieks* “Is it really that bad, Doc?”

Doctor: “We can’t tell yet, but if the level of your eosinophil increases, then we’ll know that there must be an infection.”

Me: (excited because the word “eosinophil” totally rang a bell from years of studying Physiology + Histology) “Oh, it’s my white blood cells, isn’t it?”

Doctor: … (thinks for a second) “Oh no, it’s not…”

Me: huh? *frowning, starting to doubt the competency of this dude* “What is it then?”

Doctor: “It’s some tissue, that can indicate whether you are infected by bacteria…blablabla….” *smiles convincingly*

Me (monologues inside my head): Oh my, WHERE ON EARTH DID HE GO TO SCHOOL?



Being a female, society has obliged me to at least care about looks and beauty. So when my zits went out of control, I just had to try this dermatologist my friend suggested. He looked old, anxious, very restless… and reckless.

Doctor: “Oh sweet Lord, look at that!”

Me: “err.. yes, look at me” (surprised by the over-enthusiasm he showed)

Doctor: “What have you been eating? Are you taking any vitamins??”

Me: “Well, there is this supplement I’m taking, but it should be reducing skin problems really…”

Doctor: “What is it? What is it? Let me see…”

Me: (hands over my Primrose Herbals)

Doctor: “OH NOOO! You shouldn’t be consuming this, it contains flavonoids and all…”

Me: “What’s wrong with that?” (recalling that flavonoid is one of the chemicals I studied for my thesis and as far as I read, it acts as antioxidant, anti-cancer, and even anti-acne)

Doctor: “It will worsen your acne!”

Me: “Really? Aren’t those chemicals supposed to be good for our body?”


Me (shocked): “Okay, okay! ….Geez!”

Some mental institution must be missing one of their patients. 


It kinda tickled me though. At times like that, it does seem obvious that KNOWLEDGE DOESN’T MAKE MONEY. That’s perhaps the reason why some people see academicians as “unsuccessful”. That earning high degrees and doing a bunch of researches or becoming a scientist means nothing — if not embarrassing — to most people. When the parameter is money, then sadly, it does make sense. After all, we live in this cruel world to survive. And to survive, owning enough (or plenty) money is fundamental.

I have met many who prioritize career and money, even if that means putting aside the other life aspects (in this case I learned from one of my students’ parent).

Her: “I don’t want my child to study too hard. My classmates back in highschool (she went to the best highschool in Jakarta)… I can finger-count those who succeeded!”

Us (me & partner): “Oh really?”

Her: “Yeah, the rest only became… you know… academicians…”

Me: *feeling somewhat attacked & offended

Her: “My cousin is the worst case… He is super smart, but he can’t work with people. Do you know what he does now? He sells these hiking equipments because hiking is his hobby! I mean, can you believe it?!”

Me: *Yikes.. strike two! (this time not for me though)

Her: “That is why, I realized that life skill is more important than knowledge… Of course academics is important for cognition, reasoning and all… But it’s not the only thing we need to succeed.”

It was great to finally meet a sane and smart parent. She knows exactly what she’s doing, she knows exactly what she’s saying. Because later on she adds:

Her: “I understand that my children need extra attention from me (she came that day because her daughter got into trouble at school). No matter how much her Dad helps, in the end as the mother I end up taking care of every little things. The only solution would be me stop working, wouldn’t it? *laughs*

Us: *laughs politely, can’t wait to hear more

Her: But you know, we have to make choices in life. And I can’t just leave my business I have worked on for years, can I?”

Well there is the answer, smart lady.

It is your choice to put career and money above your family. It is your classmates’ choice to get high educations and become academicians. It is your cousin’s choice to convert his hobby into a job. And referring to previous stories, it is also those doctors’ choice to earn as much money for a living, even if it takes some lying and fooling people around (and our choice to actually pay them to fool us!).

Who are we to say which is successful, which is not? We all have our own values, perspectives, and life missions, don’t we?

And when we speak about thinking “out of the box”, whose and which box are we referring to?

Who are we to say that something is entirely right or wrong?

Even a dead clock will be right twice a day.


(I know that I’m still green and barely know anything… But hey, even I can’t be completely wrong :D)

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