When someone says you can’t do something, you should ask, “why not?” Sometimes that someone is a friend, a spouse, a coworker, a boss, or society. Sometimes, that someone is your own inner voice.
I entered UCLA as an undergrad thinking I was going to be pre-med. it was for all the wrong reasons – a default, parental wishes, etc. Within a week of starting freshman year, I was weeded out. I actually wasn’t too crushed. I realized that at that time, I only wanted to go to medical school because it seemed like something I was expected to do.
Fortunately – life took me in other directions: the snowboarding industry (Fun! Poor! Didn’t matter, because…Fun!), acupuncture school (ooooh…interesting…but only part of the big picture), seminar and event planning (where I honed my organizational skills). Eventually it led to me arriving again – many years after college – to a career in healthcare. This time, it was for the right reasons.
Initially, I wrote off medical school, and thought maybe I would pursue something else within healthcare. I thought I was too old, not smart enough, not worthy enough. But a wise friend asked me…why not? She in two words encouraged me to shoot for the stars. So I did. I worked my ass off, sometimes taking prerequisite classes split between three different colleges and studying for the MCAT – all the while working full time.
And then, as a medical student, when I fell in love with orthopaedic surgery, I was told I wasn’t man enough or strong enough to be an orthopedist. I asked “Why not?” and it made me want to prove them wrong.
Then, it was “You can’t be a great mom and be a great surgeon.” You can’t see him, but my six-year-old is sitting on my foot as I write this. Right. Now.
And now that I’m a surgeon, again, I’m told “You can’t or shouldn’t be anything or anyone else; You’re already a surgeon.” Why can’t I follow my many other interests and dreams?
I love good food and drinks, telling stories, making people laugh, connecting friends and colleagues, planning events and parties and sharing skincare and beauty pearls.
What’s the message I want to share with others hoping to chase their dreams?
- Go out and prove people wrong.
- You don’t have to fit neatly in a box.
- Step outside the roles that are expected of you.
- Be a cheerleader! Support others – be the one to ask “Why Not?” when friends, family, colleagues doubt themselves.
- Use your skills and your gifts and be happy and fulfilled while doing it.
Are you having FUN? THAT’S how you live your fullest life and realize you can be a Renaissance woman too.
I love this idea of always asking “Why Not?” We should always question it especially if someone discourages us from pursuing our dreams
Loved this! Keep reinventing yourself as long as you’re above ground…..thanks for the reminder!
I love this so much! You have an inspirational story and are an amazing person and excellent surgeon. I’m proud to know you!
This is exactly how I felt. I appreciate this so much. So much encouragement!