By Osy Agbo
Every once in a while, one gets lucky enough to be recognized for good stuffs. Those are the little things of life that makes light a weary heart and lifts up the spirit to high heavens. But that doesn’t usually happen on a first try. Its a product of series of failures, disappointments, falls and even having to pick-up the pieces.
I believe that to be true with most people but sometimes one could get even luckier. Your shiny days gets noticed and you are looked upon more favorably. But then it gets a little odd when folks who barely know your history start to prefix your name with such hallowed words like brilliant ,genius etc etc.
You know they are well intentioned and very appreciative of your work but totally unaware of how unworthy you are of such appellations.
A dear colleague called me up recently, very distraught. She wasn’t sure what to do next but her mind was fully made about giving up the practice of medicine.
She went in great details about how she had struggled with the decision for years and finally decided the time is now. For her, medicine is just not worth the trouble anymore and gives her no joy to continue. She took me through her fears and challenges many of which I share.
Empathy was what I felt the whole time since yours truly have had his own fair share of worries too. Of course not as radical. Not even close. She came from old money and so we are at polar ends of the financial spectrum. In the end, my final question to her was, what are you really passionate about?
We all have this one thing that pushes the boundaries of our patience. You just can’t seem to get good at it and so you develop a certain kind of phobia. Everyone has one. For me, it’s gotta be solving multiple choice test questions in a wave of endless exams physicians are faced with every now and then. Silly me but that’s the truth. Over the years I have come to accept that OBJ (as we sometimes call it in Nigeria ) is my kryptonite. If all test questions were structured that way, I seriously would have doubted the possibility of making it through medical school.
Though still able to work double hard and wing it through,I would rather not put up with it. Not that I haven’t had other challenges in the past but the trauma and self doubt that comes with flunking a test is just not what one looks forward to.
And so throughout residency I struggled with the periodic quizzes. I never considered myself dumb but was under no such illusion of being smart either. In the end one still managed to graduate on top of his class and even earned an automatic ticket to a fellowship spot. But a few sub-par performances did bruise my academic ego along the way. Self confidence took a few hits during the process.
Though I have always loved story telling as far back as I could remember, I had let that part of me suffer for far too long in deference to that which puts food on the table. But not anymore. I have figured out a way to walk and chew gum at same time.
I may have discovered that by pure serendipity but nonetheless have never been happier. My only regret is that one should have embraced this concept long before now.
Having practiced medicine throughout my adult life, am very thankful for the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to make a difference in countless lives that cross path with me everyday. But fact is, never have I woken up in the morning feeling like a super-hero ready to heal the planet or tap-danced to work, to borrow a phrase from Warren Buffet.
What is true is that on the course of caring for the sick, this lackluster average Joe has ressurrected his passion for the written words and is ready to shoot for the stars.
A wise man once described life as a collection of humble lessons and I have no iota of doubt in my mind that he was right. Every man has a passion for something and that’s why we all have the potential to be great. For when you are passionate about what you do, it automatically migrates from the realm of work to pure pleasure and the output is as huge as the reward.
Maybe life has to do with figuring out our strengths and following our passion, knowing fully well that we don’t suck at everything. I believe nobody said it better than Einstein:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.
Follow your passion. Every man a king!
Osmund Agbo MD,FCCP writes from Houston,Texas