Upper Peninsula

46°38'23.3" N, 86°12'56.492" W

It's been eight years since the last time I was in the Upper Peninsula, and each of those years have brought incredibly different experiences and lessons. Driving on the isolated two-lane roads and past the expanse of conifers reminded me of where I was, mentally and emotionally, during my last visit.


In my mind, I was certain that I'd become a physician. But in my heart, even back then, there was a seedling of doubt starting to breakthrough the surface. I stomped on it every chance I got and persevered forward with my sights set on medical school.

Having that clear cut path made life easier than I realized. I boiled it down to this extremely detailed and well-thought-out plan:

  1. Study hard
  2. Apply to medical schools
  3. Study really hard again
  4. Apply to residencies
  5. Work really really hard
  6. Profit

Clearly, life didn't go as planned mostly because I didn't understand back then that my doubt seedling was planted by my desire to have a more free and creative life. I wasn't one of those kids who could balance being stoked about medicine, play music, do research and publish, dance in multiple groups, be on the board of ten different organizations, hold down a job, and do well in school.

Well, actually I did manage to do all of the above with the exception of the very first thing. How in the world did I think I could become a doctor with a dwindling passion for medicine? 🤔 To be successful, I knew I needed to do nothing else but focus on medicine and I just wasn't willing to make that sacrifice.

I wanted to become a physician to play a vital role in society and to be a problem solver. I wanted to make my parents proud and show them that their immigrant experience wasn't for naught. I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of the privileged life they provided me by advocating for others and improving the lives of those around me.

My trip to Ishpeming and 12 Mile Beach ended up being a relaxing and grounding trip, despite the fact that we hit a deer on the way up (I'm sorry, Morgan's Fiat and the deer). We were fine, the trip continued, and we got to see our longtime friend in her new home. We saw a beautiful sunset, collected tumbled stones on the shore of Lake Superior, and camped right next to the beach.

My little rock collection

My little rock collection

Without meaning to, the trip showed me how far I've come since my last visit and left me feeling grateful for the windy road that my life has taken. From it, I've met incredible people, lived in a number of new places, and created memorable stories. I imagine my upcoming leap year will be like the last eight but on, uh, uppers. If those years have taught me anything, it's that unexpected paths and new, uncomfortable situations make for the most impactful growth. I'm ready to take that seedling of doubt and nurture it to develop into a sturdier, more impassioned, and increasingly skillful version of me.