Med School Vs. Art School

In Career, Health and Body, Mental Health on February 4, 2010 at 3:11 am

Dear Yenta,

I’ve had seven internships over the course of eight years because I’m afraid of job commitment, and haven’t found anything that excites me. I finally chose a career path to become a physician because I wanted to make a difference.

Although I got accepted and will get a free ride, I’m not excited and am confused. I view myself as more of an artist than an intellect, and want to pursue my art, although I want to help others and know I am good with people. What should I do?

-Lost in Med Schol

Jenny Holzer does what she loves AND helps the world.

Dear LIMS,

Have you really not found anything that excites you? Or is it more a matter of not allowing yourself to do the things that turn you on? Honestly, honey, eight years is long enough to spend avoiding your dreams. Art school beckons your name.

Why on earth would you go to med school if it does not excite you? You want to do good in the world and help others, so do good and help others. This is not limited to physically saving lives in an ER, it extends to every moment of every day. You can do good to others by helping a friend, by lifting someone’s heavy load, by doing Tong Len meditation, by doing yoga, by volunteering your time.

And…you can help others by doing art. As Pipilotti Rist, my personal favorite artist said in “The World’s Most Colorful Video Artist,” a New York Times Magazine article: “The whole question of how to put art into regular life is what interests me the most. I treat art as a service. I think of myself as a service worker.”

Artists are healers. They speak to the unspeakable and allow for the repressed undercurrents of society to breathe and be spoken for. Without the artistic so many humans might shut down. Just think about how music, fashion, film and words affect your daily life. Shame on you for presuming art to be a selfish path, it is the ultimate act of giving and serving – of making a real difference.

Ah, and “selfish” is a myth. In seventh grade my girlfriends and I used to use “you are so selfish” as the ultimate insult. Later, after college, it was shown to me that selfish is selfless. What does this mean? By actually facing and addressing yourself, from your darkest corners and demons to the best and most beautiful parts of you, you are serving your community, your family and those you touch with your work.

By repressing your dreams and living an empty life, you are dragging people down with you. Lift yourself, and those you love, by actually addressing your heart and your spirit. If you need help, so be it. Find a life coach or career coach or therapist; or, sit down and force the good out of you. If you really can’t, you might have some internal dragons to slay. Brave moments of truth are never regretted in time, only those decisions guided by fear and doubt.

A lot of people feel worthless unless they can outwardly be seen as a do-gooder. Learn to love yourself on your own because you will die. I promise. And so, before that death, why not bother beginning to live? This means really sitting and remembering what feels good and attempting to build it into your life. And be patient, it might take a hot minute to manifest. But I guarantee, when you are true to what makes your heart thump and your eyes widen, it always comes to you in ways you least expect it.

A numb doctor saving lives who can’t see herself is no good to nobody. She’ll trip and fall. Save yourself, baby doll, and then save the world. Give that full ride to someone who dreams of being a doctor and can’t afford it, someone who will love their job and bring that love and glow to their patients. Last thing you want to end up as is a fifty year-old doctor resenting her daily life. Going to art school could mean you become the doctor to the social subconscious.

Other artists that use their talent for the greater good:

Jenny Holzer, Installation Artist
Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Roberto Sifuentes
, Performance Poets
Davis Guggenheim, Filmmaker
Joshua Cogan, Photographer
Kara Walker, Visual Artist
Guerrilla Girls, All of the Above

Add every other person who dared to depict their interior, the interior of another, or the gruesome many sides to issues the rest of us are to afraid to venture near. For you to become this amazing artist that you are, step one is unlocking your own pent up inner world.

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