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Independents' Day

When I grow up, I’ll be a worse GP

Dr Zoe Norris

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Allow me to introduce you to my new favourite word. Adulting (verb). If you’ve yet to come across this word, let me explain.

I distinctly remember the yearning I had throughout my school years to be a proper grown-up. When I was 10 years old, I remember looking at a work experience student in the class and thinking, ‘wow – one day I will be grown up and classy like her’. She was all of 16.

At university, I had the unshakeable belief that on the day I was handed my cap and gown, I would also become a proper grown-up. I would know how to adult.

Then I qualified, and it didn’t quite happen. Standing by a patient’s bed at 3am, reaching for the cannula and managing to stick it into my own finger, subtly trying to remove it and provoking a flurry of my own blood to drip onto the floor, and trying to hide all of this while still looking professional, I realised I had not nailed adulting yet.

I may never master ‘adulting’ but I think this makes me a more relatable GP

I got married. I did my GP training. I got so tangled up with the sphygmomanometer that I couldn’t work out how to unravel myself enough to take the patient’s BP and just had to give up. Somehow I qualified as a GP. I bought a house. Yet I still feared that any moment someone would realise I didn’t really understand the point of ophthalmology, that I couldn’t remember all parts of the Krebs cycle.

Being a thirtysomething professional mum would be the making of me, I was sure. Well, you can guess how that turned out. I was the bedraggled new mum who turned up to work with odd shoes, my career largely propped up by kindly receptionists and nurses who fed me caffeine and biscuits.

The list of my childlike mishaps could probably fill a book. I once wore a black bra under a cream top to work and spent the entire day trying to consult with my arms crossed.

Then there was the time I walked straight into the waiting room wall when calling a patient and it *really* hurt.

And at home I ate a whole jar of Biscoff Spread with a spoon and told my husband the kids had eaten it all.

At the age of 37, I contrive to look like a sensible professional to those who don’t know me. But I am not. I cannot adult. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to. And the more I meet people older than me, the more I realise they are no more wise or together than I am, but are simply bemused adolescents trapped in the body of a grown-up.

I may never master adulting. But do you know what? I am proud. I am proud I frequently make stupid mistakes and laugh at them, and I choose my friends because they do the same. I think I am a more human and relatable GP for it.

If you don’t recognise any of this because you have got adulting sorted, I take my hat off to you. But please do the rest of us a favour and keep it to yourself. Post some not-perfect photos on Facebook, nod along in sympathetic solidarity when I tell you how I had to shampoo the dog’s paws after he ran in his own poo around my kitchen.

Adulting, it turns out, is overrated.

Dr Zoe Norris is a GP in Hull 




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Readers' comments (15)

  • Thanks Zoe. I was having this exact discussion with a friend today. You may wish to read the book "There are no grown-up" (Pamela Druckerman).

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  • I love reading your articles Zoe ! I made this discovery of failed adulting last year when I couldn’t pretend to be the happily married successful Gp! Then I made it again when I realised my divorce has made me bitter and snappy then I made it again when I realised I can’t sleep because of stress ! Changed my life and told everyone that yes I am In My mid thirties divorced with no children and no house ( thanks to the divorce ) in debt , but I could not be happier in myself ! My patients help me too , they relate to and I relate to them ! So here’s to a lot more fuck ups that will make me a better human being and a Gp for my patients !

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  • I thought it might happen to me when I finally retired ! But NO!!!
    Being able to see the funny side in yourself is the bench mark I always used to approve a candidate for a job. It shows empathy and cuts out the NPD element of the true 'Adults'. Keep it up. Never grow up.Zoe... You'd be an awful bossy bore. Probably end up as a CQC inspector.

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  • End of the line?

    Its like "scrubs"..
    you have those crazy thoughts and visualisations..
    The new millenials (my kids etc ) don't get it
    they dont have all that pop culture from the 80's 90's etc

    I like the line at the end of "Stand by me"
    I never had friends like the friends i had at 12... No one does..

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  • End of the line?

    p.s. did you notice in scrubs theme
    at the end
    they always put the cxr up the wrong way round..
    as the medic in the house i always have to
    point that out
    (unless the patient has dextrocardia ??)

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