When I was a child, I’ve always wanted to put up my own business. What kind it was, I didn’t know yet but I knew that I was going to own one when I grew up. So when the time came for college applications, there was no doubt in my mind that I would apply for a business and marketing course. I even chose high school electives that I knew would help me with the course. In one college application, there was a section that asked if I was interested in getting into an accelerated medical program. Coming from a family of doctors, I said to myself, “Well, there’s no harm in trying. Kung pumasa, maybe this is a sign that I should be a doctor!” So I ticked YES.
Results came out and I passed the business and marketing course I applied for. Yay!!! BUT I also qualified for the accelerated medical program. I know… I know! It should have been an easy decision since I knew what I wanted, right? But I was young and easily affected with what others would say. People told me then, “Sayang naman! It’s hard to get into that course. But it’s really up to you.” or “Sayang 'yung talino mo if hindi mo ituloy yan!” So after much contemplation, I gave in and went to med school. I graduated from med school, passed my boards, and became a licensed physician all in just 7 years. And I loved those years thoroughly. I went straight into residency training for 3 years.
In the last year of my residency, I saw myself always exhausted, no longer looked forward to going to work and holding clinic. I wasn’t excited to do my surgeries. Even then, I told myself I am not a quitter, to suck it up and to finish what I started. So I did and went into practice.
When I started my practice, I found myself asking if this was really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wasn’t getting as much fulfillment anymore as when I was in med school. I knew at that moment that I needed to do something about it.
I got a lot of “Ha? Sayang naman! All those years of training tapos ayaw mo na?” when I told family and some friends about how I was feeling. I was tired, bored and unhappy. BUT I was also scared that it might be too late to change careers. I was hesitant because I didn’t know anything else but Medicine. What will I do to earn? Wala akong ibang pwedeng gawin! I also didn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially my parents who are both doctors. I struggled with these feelings everyday. I didn’t want to go to my clinic unless there were patients. I’d always find excuses to get out early and would go out with friends almost every night to help mask the discontent I was feeling.
But I knew that I had to do something or else I’d fall into depression soon. I didn’t want to give in to SAYANG anymore. I refused to see this as a failure.
It was when a friend suggested that maybe I needed a passion project that I started taking action. Hey, why not? I can take a break from private practice first. I can always go back to being a doctor, right?! So I took a step back and reflected on what I wanted to do. What was my next step?
I was 29 then and I wasn’t getting any younger. Then I remembered that I had always planned to own a successful business before 30. This was the time to start working for what I really wanted to do. If I didn’t start doing something to reach my dream, kailan pa?
The challenge for me was that I knew nothing about business and marketing. I didn’t want to just jump into things right away. I wanted to equip and prepare myself for this sudden career shift. I continued holding clinic to keep a steady income flow. I studied the basics and took online certificate courses in business and marketing during my free days.
And luckily, just when I started taking control of my life again, opportunities started presenting themselves.
An unexpected opportunity came to put up a business with a few friends. My dream was finally starting to come true! I scheduled meetings with friends who could help me understand the market. I started to realize na wala talaga akong alam, and even considered that I could be making a mistake. I doubted myself and constantly asked if I was making the right decision.
In one of the meetings, a friend who owned a chain of bars offered me a marketing position for me to learn hands on. I immediately grabbed the opportunity to gain the experience.
It was then that I stopped my practice and started my love affair with marketing. Kapa kapa sa start, scared that I might fail or do something wrong. But I quickly got the hang of it and found that I was actually enjoying it. I never looked back since. I was 30 and I was still discovering new things about myself and what I was capable of doing. I had no regrets about being a doctor. To me, it made me stronger and taught me how to work well under pressure that helped me transition well into marketing.
I’m glad I had enough courage to drop everything to pursue my dream and passion. It wasn’t easy but I was lucky I had the support of family and friends to pull me through. And I’m finally doing what I love. Now, 2 years, 2 businesses and a bunch of marketing consultancy jobs later, (and maybe a few medical consults from friends every once in awhile) I have never been happier! Busier but definitely happier!