Some days college just breaks you down.
One of my coping mechanisms is to make up a worst-case scenario. It always starts with dropping out of college, because in my mind that’s always worst-case scenario, but it finishes with something that doesn’t sound half bad.
One that Paige and I always say is this: we drop out of college and move to Thailand, we teach yoga and pilates class in the morning and lead scuba diving tours in the afternoon, at night we sleep in a tiny shack on the beach where the waves lull us to sleep. Even though it starts with our worst fears, it ends with a life where we can see ourselves being happy.
The most comforting thing about these scenarios is that I don’t actually want to teach yoga or pilates. I’m not good at either and I definitely don’t want to put in the time to get decent enough to instruct others. I also don’t want to live in Thailand. Of course I want to go explore Thailand, but the sketchy healthcare is a little too much for me. I also don’t even think I could move to Thailand if I wanted to, because laws and stuff like that.
At the end of the day, none of these scenarios compete with becoming a pharmacist. Pharmacy is my best-case scenario and all of these are my worst-case scenarios. Then I thought, what makes pharmacy my best-case scenario? When I applied to A&M on early admissions, I had to pick a major. I was seventeen and I picked biochemistry because I liked biology class and I liked chemistry class and they sounded cool put together. Then I googled highest paying jobs with a biochemistry degree. First was doctor, which was too much pressure for me. Then was pharmacist, which sounded low stress and high reward, so I eventually settled on pharmacy.
But the third highest paying job has always been in the back of my mind: head winemaker. At seventeen, I was scared to even click on the link because if I was caught my parents would assume I was already drinking alcohol and they would’ve been correct and I just wasn’t ready to deal with that. My parents aren’t strict or anything, I just didn’t want the extra attention. My parents have been letting me have wine and champagne on rare occasions since I was in high school. And of course my friends and I drank cupcake moscato in Erika’s basement late at night.
One night last semester, Cassidy and I watched Under the Tuscan Sun with a bottle of wine. The movie was terrible, but I really enjoyed the wine, so in typical Katie fashion, I looked up everything about the wine. I got sucked deeper and deeper into the information about wine. I never knew that there was more to a wine than the type of grape and the category of wine. One website said something about never being able to understand the complexity behind differences in quality of wine or some shit like that and all I heard was a challenge.
Now that I’m twenty, I’m no longer scared that my parents will know I’m drinking alcohol. No matter how many times I tell them I don’t have a fake ID, they always try to trick me into saying I have one. I always tell them my military ID doubles as a fake because the bouncers are always too dumb to flip it over and find my birthday on the back so they just let me in. My brother says its because I’m a girl. Maybe he’s right, but anyways, I started mentioning to my mom that I could become a winemaker and always laughed it off. She never believes that I will stray from pharmacy. I’ve always been the type to choose a path and commit.
When I didn’t do well on a biochemistry exam, I came up with a new worst-case scenario: I drop out of college and move to Tuscany and get an apprenticeship under an old master winemaker and learn how to make amazing wine. There are definitely a couple problems with this worst-case scenario. Once again, I don’t think I can just move to Italy; I bet it takes years of paperwork. Also, where am I going to find an old master winemaker? Especially one without a family already in place to take over his winery? And you still have to have a degree to be a winemaker, so I can’t exactly drop out. But the biggest problem by far is that it doesn’t seem like a worst-case scenario to me. In fact, it seems to be replacing my old best-case scenario.
I’ve been chewing on this problem for a couple months. I casually mention it to most of my friends and they all laugh me off, never believing that I would sway from something I’ve already worked so hard for. They are mostly right, but I wonder if I’m sticking with pharmacy because I truly want to do it, or is it just easy to follow the path I’ve already set for myself? Everyone asks themselves these types of questions in college.
This semester I’m volunteering for St. Joseph’s Hospital in the satellite pharmacy, so it’s basically a retail pharmacy. I’ve never wanted to do retail, but volunteering there is so painful that it’s making me question if I can do pharmacy at all. The people are so boring, they barely have a personality. And I definitely don’t want to spend my entire life having to smile at customers, talk about insurance, ring up their meds, and then put on tons of hand sanitizer because many of them come into the pharmacy while they are ill. It’s scary that of my three positions at the hospital, I hate the one I would go to four years of school to do.
I’ve always wanted to do clinical pharmacy, but I can’t find anyone that will let me shadow them. There aren’t many clinical pharmacists in the first place and I’ve tried the few that are close enough to College Station for me to spend a day there. I’m still looking, it’s just a frustrating task.
In November, I had already planned out my summer. I applied for a pharmaceutical sciences internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If I didn’t get that, I would stay in College Station, take classes, and work with my friends at the vet pharmacy. But as I thought more and more about winemaking, I decided to apply for some internships at wineries. After all, some of my favorite lyrics from the 1975 are “if you never shoot you’ll never know.” I think I wrote some compelling essays. Here’s an excerpt from my quirky application to this super eccentric winery in Austin:
One night when I was about twelve, my mom told me I should make my own dinner. I took it as a sign to eat whatever I wanted, so I made myself a bowl of cheddar cheese cubes and Hershey’s dark chocolate. When my mom saw me sitting on the couch eating cheese and chocolate with a spoon, she sighed and said, “you’re going to have a great palate for wine.” The absentminded comment has stuck with me ever since. Unfortunately, it’s frowned upon to aspire to be a wine maker when you aren’t legally allowed to drink wine. Now that I am only two weeks away from my twenty-first birthday, my interest in wine doesn’t seem so illegal anymore. Although I don’t have much experience in winemaking, I think I would be a great fit for an internship at the Austin Winery!
Not bad right? It’s a true story. I thought the thing about looking up the highest paid jobs with a biochemistry degree wouldn’t be appropriate. But that’s where I’m at. I applied to four wineries, three of which are in California. I haven’t heard back from any of them, or from St. Jude, so I’m just floating in the wind.
There is so much left to be determined. Will I get an internship? Will I get more than one? How will I choose to go or not to go? Will I even like winemaking? Will volunteering at the pharmacy suddenly get better? Will being at St. Jude make me want to go to medical school, which is another idea always floating around in the back of my mind? Will I get into pharmacy school? Could I even get a job as a winemaker? What is my best-case scenario?
Where will my future take me? I’ll use one of Julie’s favorite sayings: We’ll see.