Veronica Jow does not sit down.
Veronica Jow has a lot on her plate. Which is just the way she likes it.
The San Francisco-based mother of two little ones is a sports medicine physician who runs her own practice. But those are just her day (and night … and crack of dawn) jobs. She also founded a formidable women’s political activism group, Ladies of the Resistance; takes modern dance classes; and plays in a beginner’s basketball league for adults called “Never Too Late.”
Veronica says she sometimes gets raised eyebrows for taking on so much, but she realized long ago that she’s happiest while in constant motion--and truly miserable when she feels stagnant. Her internal drive to help people and create real, human connections propelled her into a nontraditional career in medicine, and over time it’s allowed her to let go of things that don’t matter and jump headfirst into those that do.
“I realized recently that I’m not motivated by taking over the world. I’m motivated by building things that really matter and by taking care of people. Being Beyonce or Jeff Bezos would be fun, I guess, but I think it’d also be a slog,” says Jow.
The first time we met Veronica, we knew she was our kind of woman. She’s fiercely true to herself, whip-smart, and hard to define. Not to mention wry, funny, and frank.
We sat down with her one foggy SF afternoon to find out more about what makes her tick … and learned more than a few life lessons in the process.
“I’m not motivated by taking over the world. I’m motivated by building things that really matter and by taking care of people.”
“I really needed something to do other than comment on Facebook posts or just be angry.”
Did you always know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Sort of. I went to medical school with the idea that I’d specialize in internal medicine, but residency turned out to be a life-defining moment for me. It wasn’t just the hours; most people can withstand it, even though it’s pretty brutal. It was the way people interacted with each other that I didn’t love. Everyone was so stressed out and nobody was very kind to one another. So I started thinking, ‘wait, how can I turn this into a job that I will actually love?’
Was there ever a time in your life when you felt like you didn’t “fit”?
When I decided to go into sports medicine, I had a mentor who told me I’d never get into a sports medicine fellowship from internal medicine. It’s a medical world nuance, but it’s not very common to shift career paths the way I did. But I took that as a motivator. And guess what? I got in. She was wrong.
You’ve got a big job and little kids. That’s no joke. How do you stay sane?
Well I have two kids, so there’s a lot to do, but I never let that mean I don’t do things for myself. They were hard babies and hard toddlers, so there were some years where I kind of disappeared. A year or so ago, though, I snapped out of it and thought, ‘Why am I standing here watching you play soccer? You should play, but I’m gonna run laps around the school’
How has motherhood changed the way you think about yourself?
Well I have one very outgoing kid who will do anything and another who has to be coaxed to do things. It’s made me more conscious of getting outside of my comfort zone, because I want to model that. For example, forever, I was like, ‘I don’t dance.’ Then I realized we put ourselves in these buckets and I thought, ‘Hell yes, I’m a dancer!’ So now I go to class and it’s so, so fun.
Love it. Anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself as a new mom?
Honestly, motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, including medical residency. After I got over that initial euphoria with the first one, I was like, this is crazy. My kids didn’t sleep. They still don’t sleep. It’s taken me a long time to stop stressing about following parenting books or advice and just accept that my kids are who they are. My daughter wants to be awake at 5 every day. She just does. And that’s okay.
What’s one thing you learned the hard way that you wish you could tell your younger self?
My big life lesson has been to just do my own thing. There were times when I felt like having a lot of different jobs was a sign of weakness but looking back, I realize that those just weren’t the jobs for me. I need to create what works for me.
After the 2016 election, you grew a small group of girlfriends into the
Ladies of the Resistance. What lit a fire under you?
I really needed something to do other than comment on Facebook posts or just be angry. And I just think the power that women have is incredible. I mean, we do run the world. We’re just not given the credit for it.