From as early as I can remember, becoming a medical doctor has been spoken over my life. Maybe because I have always been a successful student or because it’s one of the stereotypically recognized fields by Nigerians; but whatever the reason, it’s a noble profession. So I dedicated myself to becoming the best medical doctor possible, even though I would soon lose interest in it. The truth is, I never wanted to be a doctor. If you had asked 4-year-old me, “what do you want to be when you grow up”, I would have told you, “I want to be a mother and stand up for people”; but stronger than that, were my insecurities and people-pleasing nature. It felt good to be the child everyone was proud of and I didn’t want to jeopardize that; I also didn’t believe I was worthy enough to have dreams of my own. I thought that I could adapt everyone else’s excitement and desire as my own; so medicine it was…
In 2015, right before starting college, I had the privilege of hearing a few testimonies from the young adults at my new church. They spoke about how good it felt to have God be a part of every single area in their lives, including where to go to school, what career to enter, and what jobs to pursue. They really inspired me because I felt like I had been living a purposeless life and I wanted, no, I needed a change. I remember telling God, “I want to give a testimony like that one day; I want You to have that much control over my life”. My request that day set in motion a 3-year shift in my life’s trajectory. I would still matriculate into Rutgers – New Brunswick with the end goal of medicine; however, there was now an uneasiness I could not explain, or suppress. I resisted the feeling because I certainly didn’t think the answer was related to me being a medical doctor, or not. Thankfully, God continued to chase after me, despite me fleeing on account of ignorance and dysfunction.
By the end of my freshman year, I was simply pursuing an MD because I wanted the title and the pay that follows. I had actually decided to get my MPH (Master of Public Health) so that after medical school I could do what I thought was more comformed to my passions. I knew it wasn’t quite right but felt this was a bearable compromise. Eventually, I reverted to solely medicine. I was afraid people would think I got my MPH due to incapability. Fear convinced me others would think I had poor undergraduate grades and needed the extra boost. The thing is, 2017 Chiamaka still needed eveyone’s approval. My junior year, while in the ODASIS MCAT class, I had an epiphany———I didn’t care about becoming a medical doctor. Yet again, fear and a people-pleasing nature assured me I couldn’t drop out of the class. In April 2018, I successfully took the MCAT which meant it was no longer a matter of ability. I needed to determine if I could part ways with my proclivity for outside validation.
One night, as I attempted to write my personal statement, I realized I was having a panic attack. At first, I didn’t recognize it for what it was because I had not had one in four years. I should have been estatic at the thought of being in medical school in a year’s time; instead, I knew despair. I was tired. Tired of lying about what I was passionate about. Tired of doing what everyone thought I should be doing. Tired of being unsatisfied and disappointed in the life I was living. I asked God one thing that night, “if not medicine, then what”. He answered me and we began the journey that would eventually lead me to being accepted, on a scholarship, into the number 3 school for social work in the nation (University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration). Don’t get me wrong, God did not say social work that night, for reasons including my lack of trust in Him, need for others’ validation, and my weakness in the face of opposition. He actually told me, “remember what we planned freshman year”, which did not include social work, but over the course of the next year, He would gradually bring me face-to-face with purpose.
I did not leave medicine because it was difficult. Honestly, and not to boast, I had no doubt I could be a doctor. It was torture because I didn’t care. I had a high overall GPA and a high BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math) GPA. I had a good MCAT score, on my first try. I even had letters or recommendation. And yet, something was out of place. Crying out for God in the summer of 2015 set in motion things I was, initially, too blind to sense. Through this journey, I learned how to hear His voice and trust in Him. God has taught me that true success, true fulfillment, really is obedience to Him. I am now certain, HE IS FOR ME. I may not have all the details planned out like I did with medicine, but I wake up excited, every day, for this new chapter. I rise faith-filled, despite creeping fears, anxieties, and unknowns, because I have yet to see the day my God isn’t faithful.
I hope this encourages anyone who is/has been wondering what their purpose might be. It really can be found at the feet of Jesus. Pray and expect your prayer to be answered, regardless of what it looks like.
Ps. There will be an IGTV video to elaborate more on this testimony. So head over to my Instagram and follow if you want a little more detail. The video will be out Tuesday at 12pm.
Featured photo by sl.vizion