Who Is Dr. Kim: Part One
From the beginning of my life, I had a keen understanding of choosing the path that was right for me instead of what others thought I should do. My parents were key figures in that respect as they were not only great role models, but they also pushed me to pursue my own interests.
At the age of four, my parents decided to move to the United States to complete their Master’s at Stevens Institute of Technology and consequently left me with my grandparents in Seoul, Korea. Before that, however, my parents got divorced meaning that when my mother left for the United States, she was leaving as a single mother and entering the country alone. With limited language and the odds stacked against her, she proved to be a survivor. Eventually, both of my parents became small business owners after they finished their education. She was alone in the country after leaving her son behind, but even in the midst of that, her strong personality helped her survive and helped drive me to where I am today.
I was finally able to move to the United States to join my parents when I was nine years old. However, it proved to be a struggle for me as I had limited language knowledge and needed to overcome the cultural differences to catch up with my parents. When I started schooling in the United States, I knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue something scientific or medical out of pure interest. My mom was a chemistry major and I loved the subject in high school, so I knew I wanted to go down that path but I wasn’t exactly a studious kid. Knowing that my options for a stable career in chemistry were limited, I felt really lost at that point in my life. But what my parents did was never push me down a specific path and instead gave me the space to figure myself out.
I think a common issue amongst a lot of Asian families is when the parents provide too much guidance for their kids and pressure them into areas they may not want to study. But it’s important to analyze whywe’re doing something beyond its practical purpose to ensure it’s something that gives us joy and will be something we enjoy for years to come. I think that’s another reason why many healthcare professionals are burnt out because they get into their field but fail to feel joy or satisfaction. Oddly enough, I worked as a New Jersey Turnpike toll collector while I was in high school and I absolutely loved it. The job was before E-ZPass, so I loved seeing different people every minute and I was able to cherish so many moments with so many people. Many others working the same job hated it but I truly enjoyed myself and would even take extra shifts at the expense of smelling like car fumes.
Overall, what really matters is what you take and learn from each moment in life. Take the time to consider if you enjoy what you’re doing and if you bring value to others by doing it. If you aren’t finding joy or fulfillment in what you do, try looking at the situation with a different perspective and a positive mindset. I smiled as a toll collector where many did not, but I also took the time to see its worth. However, if you’re truly miserable with what you’re doing, then you need to find something else that allows you to grow and lead a life worth living.
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