I have learned to appreciate the saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, then make a plan.” When it came to my aspirations to become a doctor and a surgeon, God’s sense of humor was in over drive. No one looked like me in residency. No one had a background like me. But perhaps that was my saving grace; because no one had a drive like me to make it and be successful as the first African-American female Orthopedic Surgeon at a top residency in the United States.
I didn’t plan for it, that is, each step that would lead me to be who I am today. But I did pray for it. And I do believe that sometimes blessing will chase you down from behind. But also heed my warning. Be careful for what you ask God for. You will never be able to script each phase of your life or career. I think there in lies the intrigue and the desire to keep going. We as women, who are fighters and or perhaps never say give up chicks with M.D.s, just keep going. We have a tenacity that won’t allow us to stop. We have a craving for success that can not be suppressed. And more than anything, we know that we know, we have a date with destiny that won’t let us quit until we have achieved what we set out to accomplish.
So what does a woman, physician, and or surgeon do with drive, tenacity and a date with destiny? She succeeds and then learns to pay it forward. The term that has changed the world since the movie “Pay it Forward” was on the big screen in 2000. Random acts of kindness and philanthropic endeavors have increase exponentially just with the idea of a heroic gesture with nothing expected in return. You have probably been part of this movement as giver or recipient, and sometimes unbeknownst to you.
In light of the current atmosphere we live in today (Women’s Movement, #METoo, Black Lives Matter) everyone owes someone something. Make no mistake you did not get to where you are on your grades and good looks alone. There is always someone standing in the background of your life, your shadows, the recesses of decision making board rooms you may not have access to. These people intercede on your behalf. Not always because you deserve it, earned it or even asked for it. These men and women are the ones who know that sometimes it takes a gentle push or strong nude to usher the frequency of your success in a positive direction.
Just think of every individual who spoke life into you, encouraged you and or prayed for you. Recall every face who helped you be who you are today. And don’t forget those who wanted to see you fail. I call them the nay-sayers or your ‘haters fan club’; they can and will teach you more than others do at times. Use that energy of failure, anger or disappointment to propel you to the next level.
So no, I didn’t give you the 3 helpful hints for huge success as a female who wants to go into Orthopedic Surgery. Hell you already know it. But just in case you need a refresher, here it is: bust your ass, play the game and read my book on the Rules of Medicine (coming soon). You got this and I am here to remind you that you can do it…I did! And lastly and most importantly, pay it forward. Because there is another young woman looking to you for advice, support, mentorship or just a hand up in a world where society is actively building bigger walls for the glass ceiling that already exists.