The other day I woke up to a very bad dream. In the dream I was a bad dentist. So bad that friends and family hated me. I remember waking up sad… and then I started crying. I was in a mission, sleeping with a doctor on the other bed, and I started to sob. “It’s just a dream, Crix”, I said. “Just a dream.”
A few months ago I was approached by the MIMS community for a feature. It was a long interview. We touched on a lot of things and we also talked about the poor regard of Filipinos on oral health that generally translates to the hardship of dentists in private practice. I narrated my own experience in building a practice. How I had to desperately wait for patients to come and for my practice to pickup and stabilize.
I was asked, “If you knew that being a dentist in the Philippines is not going to be easy, would you have still pursued Dentistry?”.
To be honest, sometimes I imagine how it would be if I picked a 4-year course, instead. It seems more simple. My sisters all have corporate jobs and I see them with their monthly paychecks, company bonuses, health insurances, office trips, and I always think–that would be nice. But then even when I think my hardest, I don’t know what else I could do and be, if not a dentist.
Will I have pursued something else? I cannot answer that. When I was in Dentistry school I breezed through clinic along with my closest friend and people often called us “halimaw” (monsters) because we always finished our clinic requirements, ahead of everyone. Back then when I am asked how I do it, I say that passion fuels my daily clinic life. If you love what you do, everything is possible.
In 2007, I was opening my first practice. Back then I was eager and ready and naive. When it was finally operational, I realized that it wasn’t simple at all. It was a business and I didn’t have those skills–all I had was the talent to care for people’s teeth (and the passion that burned strong in my heart). Maybe that was enough. Maybe that’s all you needed because I went through the years of uncertainty and endured the roughness of the sea.
On the MIMs interview I told them of the most important thing that my dad taught me. He said, I should just do my best because my work is my best advertisement. And he was right because my patients eventually brought patients, who also brought patients to me–and my practice grew.
I don’t actually remember when it happened, exactly, but one day things just got better.
Finding My Purpose
Having that bad dream, I realize now, shattered me because for as young as 13-15 years old, I already knew I wanted to become a dentist. I cannot imagine myself doing something else. My hands, God blessed my hands with the skill, and I serve him through my only instrument–I don’t know anything else.
For a while I have known that I was going to be a dentist, but it wasn’t until last year that I finally realized what I was truly meant for–and that is to be a dentist for the Lord’s work. Before I left for the weekend mission, my best friend sent me a nice message. She said, “Stay safe and may your patients see Christ in you”.
When I woke up with that dream, I couldn’t stop crying. But I forced myself back to sleep, because in a few hours I was supposed to get up and get ready for the first mission day in Mindoro. As I write this, I realize even more that God is impressing on me, my true purpose. I am a dentist and He has blessed me with able hands so that I could glorify His name and power.
I know I am still a work in progress, but I hope people see Christ in me. I realize now it’s more than being a good or bad dentist.
It’s more than that…