On my desk, there are two things: my report card still lodged inside of its envelope, its unwelcoming nature making me nervous, and my phone open to a group chat with my friends, all of them panicking about that one science teacher’s grades. I pick up the letter and each slight tear into that deep, yellow-colored paper I do sends me forward to a moment in time in which I am hovering over a patient, their stomach cut open and a scalpel in my right hand. I place the letter down, I turn off my phone, and I reach for my laptop. My fingers click on the keyboard in rapid succession as my vision begins to blur with both fear and anger fighting for their own prominence in my mind. “How do I not disappoint my parents?” I worriedly press the enter key as I tremble.
I am a doctor. I have been one since my birth. An obtrusive ‘P.H.D.’ acronym is etched into my birth certificate. I will pursue pulmonology, as it has been the field that has interested me for years. But I will help society not through my prescriptions or my surgeries. My words, my ability to piece words together as a doctor clumps a patient’s symptoms together, is the ability of mine that will help others. I value a pen more than a stethoscope. I am a writer for both the benefit of myself and the ability to connect people with each other and start discussions.
I am so adamant of becoming a doctor; nay, the fact that I am a doctor, because I know that I must become one to become something in this world. To be cared about. Because people refuse to care for artists. We live in a world that discounts artists and refuses to understand their inherent cultural value. Artists are all around us, yet when do we take time to appreciate what they do for us: expand our ability to think and understand critically and help us truly see the beauty of life? I would spend my nights as a middle schooler researching what medical professions would get me the most money because that is what my worth is as a person under a society that values both capitalism and nuclear families: money. A world that values how much money you make, where the common response to being told someone is an artist is not ‘What does their art look like?’ but ‘How much money do they make?’ Where my ability to be a surviving parent is more important than my ability to be a survivor. I am a doctor because the fight against my worth being quantified instead of qualified is a slippery slope downwards, and I am a short-haired Filipino warrior not strong enough to fight it.
I will sit in my science classes, research at night for jobs that would make my family believe I am not a failure, that I was worth betting on, and I will be a writer after the day ends. I must be a doctor. That is not a discussion anyone who has put in the time to fight for me to live in this world has, or will, ever want to have with me. But I know that my writing, my words, and my emotions are all so much more important than that job. I will know deep down in the pumping parts of the arteries in my circulatory system that words flow through my body, not radiation from a CT scan and not sleepless nights from treating patients, but words. I know that I will have the moniker ‘Doctor’ to the left of my name whenever I am referred to, but to the right of my name will be the word ‘poet.’
Aldrin Badiola is a poet and prosaist in the Eastern United States who loves to write about his attachment to the Philippines, identity, and the social issues that come from both topics. When he's not writing, he's listening to 80's Filipino disco or playing the piano. His Twitter can be found @cyvilizations.