Dreams and realities

It’s been four months now that I started my new non-medical job, and I think it’s time for a reality check: what am I doing these days?

Well, I’m no less busy than I was as a doctor. I don’t quite know how that’s happened, because I envisioned having reams of free time once I was free of on calls, night shifts, exams, audits and the dreaded eportfolio. On the contrary, my list of ‘things to do’ is just as long as ever. The difference now is that the list is largely of my own making: I’m giving myself endless ‘important’ tasks. It’s the medic in me, I think – being busy and stressed is my norm, so I’m making myself busy and stressed. I’m also spending more time with my friends though, which is a really nice change.

At work, I try to do my best. I’m struggling still with the feeling that I’m not an expert in this field. Having trained so long and so hard as a doctor, it seems totally wrong to be doing a job without the backup of qualifications and letters after my name. I’m finding it hard to believe my colleagues when they say I have a natural flair for what I do, and that marketing’s mostly educational guesswork anyway.

Also, every job has its downsides, and this job is no exception. It’s partially due to that the way of doing things here is different from what I’m used to. Having been in a medical world where decisions about patient care are made quickly and you’re given direct and precise instructions about what to do, I find the slower methods employed here very weird.

When I get annoyed, I just repeat my mantra in my head over and over: nobody died, nobody died, nobody died.

My non-managerial colleagues, conversely, are delighting me at the moment. I’m having so much fun with them that sometimes I can barely believe it’s work. Our video and tech expert sent me some links the other day containing ideas that we could use to make a promotional video, and it was exciting to think about how we’d do it. On Thursday, our founder, Dr Karen Morton, asked us to make a rough, unpolished investment bid video, so our Head of Media and I spent half the afternoon running round London and filming me doing wacky things in various locations on my cheap but natty little camera. It laughed so much doing it and had such a good time, and yet it had a very serious point behind it: to get investment, you’ve got to get noticed, and if that means climbing onto the roof on our office block (yes, I actually did that!) then so be it.

I’m also feeling the benefits of working with people who are different from what I’m used to. Getting to know ‘Nerd Corner’, as they proudly call themselves, is opening doors to me that I didn’t know existed. I could never hope to be any good at numbers or Excel, but actually these days there’s a technical and numerical aspect to marketing as our ability to collect data about customers improves, so their help with analytics is proving invaluable for me at work.

Outside of work, they’re great fun too – nerds by definition know things, and knowing the quirkiest bars and restaurants in London is one of the things they know! I got taken along to the Midnight Apothecary in Bermondsey last night – a beautiful garden rooftop bar on the top of the Brunel Museum – where we roasted marshmallows over the fire and drank cocktails with a cherry blossoms in them. I also got a lesson in the physics of tunnels. Brilliant night out.

I’ve made next to no progress on my novel, even though that was a strong driving factor out of Medicine for me. That’s disappointing, however I am blaming this failure on my wedding – there is still a lot to organise before the big day! I’m also still involved with Medic Footprints, and I’ll be speaking for the first time in public about my career transition at their next event on May 24th, which I’m excited about. It’s very flattering to be asked to speak about yourself!

And right now I’m sitting in an off-beat little cafe in Walthamstow (who knew Walthamstow was such a great place for cafes and cake shops?), drinking coffee and writing this blog. I’m officially fulfilling the ‘artiste’ cliché! But I don’t care. It’s another step towards a version of myself that I’ve been suppressing for years – a dream me that I vaguely remember, and who is slowly coming back to me in this new reality.

cherry blossom cocktail

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