I was supposed to be an overachiever. You know, one of those doctors who finish community service and go straight into a registrar post and become a specialist at age 32, then a prof before 40!
Instead, I am edging closer and closer to 30 and working in a warehouse on a contract basis that only exists two months at a time! I’m not a specialist (or anywhere close to being one), if you google Dr Jessica Joseph you won’t find anything published in my name and I don’t even have a husband and 2.5 kids to explain what I’ve been doing with my life.
But I have been doing things…
I have travelled the world and treated patients from many nationalities. Indian, Filipino, Ukrainian, Italian, Spanish, American (rolls eyes), Peruvian, Indonesian, Estonian, Jamaican… the list goes on. (And trust me, each of those nationality requires a different skill set.)
I have thrombolysed someone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and had to convince a captain to change his course (not an easy task I’m telling you) for a man having a stroke.
I have learnt how to manage people and politics and the human ego (including my own).
I have swum with dolphins and sting rays and received a hug from a manatee.
I’ve witness the most incredible tropical sunsets – the stormiest skies make for the most beautiful sunsets!
I have fallen in love. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve learnt that soulmates can be seasonal. I’ve learnt to let go.
I’ve had emergency surgery in Mexico and then travelled home alone, day three post op and discovered just how much of a warrior I truly am.
I’ve worked in a warehouse on the frontline of a world-changing pandemic. I’ve written more death certificates than I ever thought possible at this stage in my career. I’ve been humbled by the most inspiring colleagues, who have taught me how to be compassionate and kind and that it is okay to laugh despite ourselves.
I’ve learnt a new language. I’ve climbed the highest mountain in Africa. I’ve cycled around Cambodia. I’ve eaten the best eggplant parmigiana of my life (in Miami, of all places). I’ve drunk Dom Perignon out of a polystyrene cup.
I’ve learnt about myself and my soul. I know myself deeply. I know my soft spots. And I know the niggly ones. I’ve wrestled with the dark parts of my heart. I’ve learnt how to be still. I’ve learnt that all we can do is try to be the best version of ourselves in this very moment, and what must be will be. Maktub!
No, I haven’t specialized yet.
No, I don’t stand out from my med school class of 2015.
Yes, I’m just your average twenty-nine year old medical officer, going on year six of being a doctor with nothing but a passport full of experiences and a heart full of lessons to show for it.
Not an over achiever, just an average achiever.