Mei Wen is a currently a PGY1 in Family Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital.

 

I walk in,
tired, threw my backpack down and headed to my work desk,
robotically and unconsciously, as if my body is used to this routine,
only to catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of my hallway mirror.
Who is that?

Frown-lines etched into the corners of her mouth,
dark circles catching her eyes,
I do not recognize this stranger,
who wondered uninvited into my home.

When did she get here?
How long has she been here?
And… when is she going to leave?

What appeared to outsiders to be living the dream of being a “productive-do-it-all-type-A medical student”, hardly reflected the regression I felt on a personal level.
By the end of four years of medical school, I did not recognize who I was.
The hidden curriculum, the hierarchical culture, the homogeneity identity that medicine encourages, chipped away pieces of me that made me authentic, and left me a skeleton of a “CC4”.

But I see now that taking ownership of the parts that are
“different”,
“idealistic”,
“asked too many questions”,
“cared too much”
back is not only okay, but it is powerful.

Stand in your authenticity.
And when you do, you will invite others to share their authentic self, and perhaps then we will finally start seeing others beyond the label of “patient”, “nurse”, “resident”, “medical student” and as humans who share the same anxieties, hurt, joy and love.