Chapter 5: Know When It’s Time to Celebrate You!
To the young black girl with the big brown eyes, big dreams, big ambitions but small confidence, why do you forget the trail of diamonds and glitter you leave behind in every room you enter? Why do you shrink and downplay your abilities to make others more comfortable? Why do you let a world of problems overwhelm you when you know the power you hold within?
To the young black girl who constantly told herself “No” before anyone else could… why do you get on stage prepared to sing but boo yourself before the crowd has a chance to react? Why do you feel so small when you radiate an energy that can be felt for thousands of miles? Why are you surprised when you are successful?
To the young black girl that faces her fears head on, volunteers not out of confidence but in spite of discomfort and takes failure as an opportunity to reroute the journey, not abandon it… you have felt like an imposter, a hoax even, but worked to find your confidence and the reason you belong. You were and still are unsure of how things will end but are adamant about writing your own happy ending.
Above is an excerpt from a poem I wrote called to the young Black Girl. The poem is about what I wish I could have said to myself before starting my first year of medical school. It is based upon observations that I noticed about myself over the months. The positives, the not so positives and the aspects of myself I should highlight and recognize more. My first year of medical school taught me a lot of different things but of them are three important lessons I will hold throughout my schooling and career. The first is the idea that having confidence in your abilities will carry you through difficult moments. You must believe your goal is possible and believe in yourself to achieve whatever it is that you want. Shrinking yourself down because you do not know the answer right now is not the response of someone that wants to achieve. It is about understanding that what you do not know today you will work hard to know tomorrow. In the opening line of my poem I say, To the young black girl with the big brown eyes, big dreams, big ambitions but small confidence, why do you forget the trail of diamonds and glitter you leave behind in every room you enter? This line is the epitome of how I started M1 year. Very meek and nervous to share my opinions/thoughts out of fear that I did not know as much as my peers. I always assumed that I knew less than everyone even though I was studying and working to what I believed was the best of my ability.
The second lesson is to allow myself to learn and grow especially in academic spaces. The point of medical school is to learn how to be a competent and caring physician. The goal of any educational space is to learn. Period. I am not expected to be the #1 physician of New York right now because I am just training. I forget that it is okay to be unsure and make harmless mistakes at this level. Striving for perfection can be more harmful than helpful because instead of focusing on how to learn more effectively, I would beat myself up. The third and final lesson I will share is that the feeling of inadequacy will come and go throughout my career, but I control how I respond. I am the captain of my own ship, and I must steer myself in the right direction. Learning how to get ahead of my feelings will really help dictate how I respond and react. I think returning to reflection pieces like the one I am currently writing will help keep me grounded when I feel lost again. Creating a healthy and safe mental home for yourself is a work in progress but is so necessary in fighting off the thoughts that aim to knock you off your game.
Be proud of where you are right now because just a year ago you hoped for this!