I’m what might generously be described as a late bloomer. I spent my 20s and 30s “finding myself”. A valuable endeavour in the sense that it took me around the world, gave me the education of meeting people from diverse walks of life and instilled in me adaptability and resilience.

But by age 35, I figured I should start planning for a more adult future and pursue an actual career, so I took a deep breath and applied for medical school. Among its many rewards and challenges, medical school has yielded some unusual and often entertaining dynamics as I while away the days with students a good 15 years my junior. Over the past four years of study, I’ve sometimes wondered how they perceive me: this random, greying man, seemingly both the oldest and least mature member of the cohort.

As a child, I always liked performing, especially singing, although opportunities were slim in my small town. Footy and farming had long been in vogue. Dance, music and theatre? Not so much. So when I hit the big 4-0 earlier this year and turned my sights to ticking off bucket list items, I decided to add singing on stage. Why? Because singing makes me feel good, and I wanted to share that feeling with others. So I signed up for the Med Revue, an annual spoof musical that is written, directed and staged by fellow medical students.

‘My grey locks hadn’t gone unnoticed by the directors.’ Photograph: Lewis Leow

I was unusually shy at the table read; a shyness that continued throughout early rehearsals as the sprightly twentysomethings paraded about me. My grey locks hadn’t gone unnoticed by the directors. In one scene they cast me as a middle-aged GP; in another a magnificent reinvention of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada (this version worked as a caustic surgeon because the devil actually wears scrubs).

We’d meet two or three times a week, rehearsing songs and dialogue in between memorising flashcards on anatomy and physiology. Bonding as a cast meant learning to feel comfortable looking ridiculous around one another, knowing fairly soon that ridiculousness would be on public display.

Samuel Grant and Roland Bull (right) assess a patient during a Med Revue skit. Photograph: Lewis Leow

The dance scenes were my achilles heel. My aching, middle-aged joints meant that by opening night, I still hadn’t mastered even the most rudimentary choreography. Nobody seemed to mind. And I like to think I made up for it in other ways. When the call-out came for costumes, I could well and truly fill the void, thanks to years spent collecting absurd knick-knacks and outfits on my travels. Crimson graduation gown? Sorted. Leopard print onesie? I’ve got you covered. Weird and wonderful hats? Happily, I’ve long maintained that sun safety need not be boring.

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On opening night the cast and crew were buzzing with excitement: the 17-piece band, the bagpiper, the troupe of dancers, the fresh-faced firsties and the overtired fourth years.

I pushed through my nerves and grinned from ear to ear beneath the stage lights as I belted out my solo: I’m Just Gen, a spoof of I’m Just Ken from the Barbie movie, this time extolling the virtues of a career in general practice. I delivered it with the brazenness of a wannabe Ryan Gosling with a dash of Madonna-as-Evita thrown in for extra camp.

Of course, it wasn’t all stress-free and seamless. During the dress rehearsal I had been so busy socialising I completely forgot my cue to go on stage and had to bolt on last-minute from the wrong direction. On opening night I was left glancing about mid-scene, wondering where one of the other actors was as his line approached. I smiled when I heard the thunderclap of panicked footsteps approaching, realising he’d made the same mistake I had. Not that it mattered; by the time the curtain call came round, those small moments were long forgotten.

‘Creative expression is for everyone, regardless of whether you aim to make a career out of it.’ Photograph: Lewis Leow

The entire experience was an absolute joy, one I intend to repeat because it taught me a few things. First, it reinforced my belief that creative expression is for everyone, regardless of whether you aim to make a career out of it. Despite a glorious few months of singing, dancing, laughing and performing, I’m not about to give up the pursuit of clinical practice to chase stardom (although transitioning to the life of a struggling actor does seem a genius way to avoid paying off my Hecs debt). But I will keep seeking communities to create with, because it develops skills easily transferable to other areas of life.

Most important of these, to my mind, is the ability to be comfortable feeling exposed. People are terrified of feeling silly, especially in medicine, and yet we all probably feel that way multiple times a day.

Once you’ve performed in front of an audience, the daily moments that used to turn your cheeks red don’t seem that daunting any more. And that can be a bit of a superpower.

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