Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 5

Following Serendipity

In Part 5 of her series called “Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter,” my daughter Jackie reflects on career, discovering self, and finding her path. Enjoy!  

–Dr. H

Hey, friends! Jackie here again. Long time no talk! Still faking it till I make it out here in the Big Apple (does anyone know why that’s what it’s called?). My summer is winding down way quicker than I imagined it would. Time flies when you’re having fun in the big city, as you can see in the photo above, where I am enjoying one of my favorites, ice cream! As I enter my junior year, a year where suddenly you feel you really have to get your life and priorities in order because career choices and opportunities loom on the horizon, I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on my past experiences to figure out what I want to do and where I want to be going in my life. These are daunting questions for sure and not ones that can be answered without serious thought. It stresses me out, if I’m honest, but I also realize that everything always works out in the end. Most of us end up following rather circuitous paths, jumping at every fortuitous, yet unforeseen opportunity and finding ourselves in a beautiful somewhere we could never have imagined in our college years… Or at least that‘s what people tell me.

This past year and especially this summer have brought many things into focus for me, but has also raised a lot of questions. It’s made me look into myself and consider not just what my passions are, but why I am so interested in them, and what pieces I can take from one love and find in another seemingly opposite field. It’s made me question where I want to be geographically, and what sort of job or career might land me there. It has forced me to grapple with the question of how much it matters to me to have a real-world and tangible impact in my work (the answer: a lot). These questions keep barreling at me at the speed of light, and I cannot seem to form a coherent thought or come to a complete answer before the next concern knocks me over the head. It feels like everything I’ve worked for is culminating in this moment, and everything that comes after will be able to be traced back to the days I’m living right now and the decisions I am making currently. Of course, I’m being melodramatic (after all, I am a 20-year-old girl who has never actually lived in the real world, so what more can you expect?) but luckily, I have my mother to look towards to calm me down. Not only does she guide me with her advice every day over the phone, but she has also provided me with a plethora of her own experiences for me to draw upon. I merely have to look back on the decisions that she made in her young adult life to gain the clarity to realize that I, just like everyone else, will eventually find my way.

Perhaps not everyone knows this, but my mother was going to be an architect when she came to Yale as a freshman. Hopefully by now, all of you know that she is, in fact, not an architect. She does not build buildings or draw massive blue prints, but instead extracts pimples, excises moles, and injects Botox®. She does not wear a construction hat, but a pristine white coat. This transition from architect to doctor came at the end of her sophomore and beginning of her junior years. She realized that architects were not getting hired at that time, and even when they were, they were making a measly living that could support only half a person. She also realized that while she loved being creative, she did not love being creative on such a stress-inducing deadline. These realizations were ones not easily confronted, but were necessary insights in order for her to get to where she is today. My mom veered off the architecture track, plowing full-steam ahead into premed and neuroscience. Although she continued to take a few credits here and there in art and architecture, I’m sure she worried immensely about sacrificing her creative side for a more practical job. Of course, one can understand why she did so. Yes, neuroscience and cardiology were objectively less creative, but at least they didn’t turn my mother’s love for creative pursuits into such an anxiety–ridden menace, as architecture would have. And then, serendipitously, dermatology waltzed into my mother’s life. It was medical and practical, but also allowed her to explore her creative side that she had been missing. Through dermatology, she was able to retain all sides of herself, especially the creative one she thought she had sacrificed all those years ago. Through dermatology, she could be scientist, artist, mother, and mentor. Dropping architecture probably felt huge, daunting, and, quite frankly, painful in the moment, and yet it allowed my mom to find the best place and profession for her.

It’s stories like my mom’s that help me gain a little perspective. Maybe I should not be too worried about making the wrong decision or daunted by the idea of picking my forever career. In fact, I should feel a little confident that I am making the right decision and excited that I am slowly and surely finding my niche in this world. I hate to be cliché, but I’m beginning to realize and believe that everything happens for a reason. Everything will work out eventually. Of course, I’ll have to work incredibly hard every step of the way, but I’m no stranger to a little sweat and grit—physically, emotionally, or intellectually. I am, above all else, my mother’s daughter. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will find my way. I’ll find my “dermatology,” if you will, my answer to all the burning questions about the future that keep me up at night. And maybe one day, my own daughter will be reflecting about how my profession, career, and choices have helped her become the woman she will grow up to be. Just check back in 30 years… I’ll let you know.

And with that, my friends, my five-part series, “Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter” comes to an end. I’ve so enjoyed sharing my reflections on my childhood and being raised by my dermatologist mother with you. This is not the last you’ll hear from me, but I think this DoaDD adventure has run its course. I hope you’ve enjoyed our journey together. I know I have. See you soon, friends!


Read more in Jackie’s series here:

“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 1” – “Lessons Beyond Skincare and Leaving Home

“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 2” – “My Community, Family, and Friendships at Yale

“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 3” – “The Importance of Routines and Healthy Habits”

“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 4” – “My Wonder Woman Wears No Cape”

Read about Dr. Linda Honet‘s reflections about being a mother and being a doctor in her past blog posts:

“Musings of a Working Mom”

“Things You Didn’t Know About Your Dermatologist: Part I – The Story”

“My Mothers and Being a Better Doctor”

“Things You Didn’t Know About Your Dermatologist: Part II – The Top 10″

“Musings On Middle Age and Mothering”

Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 5