Positive Reinforcement

I was at my grandparents house yesterday for lunch. Everyone gets really impressed with the med school thing. I find it embarrassing and I always get a little detached. Something I noticed for the first time: I don’t need any reinforcement about being in med school. In fact I try to get away from it, and it barely enters my realm of awareness. Perhaps because I am not attached to medical school, or being a physician. I feel like these events are just inevitabilities, but don’t really encapsulate who I am or what I want to do. So reinforcing it just feels odd and makes me feel divided.

When I am being reinforced about my global health work it makes me feel “understood” as a person, because my heart is really in health equity. I was studying at Starbucks on Saturday (the one I used to work in) and I ran into a family who were regulars during my employment there. When I had left my job there, they had given me a beautiful card that changed my life. It said that I was a “bright light for other people, a breath of fresh air,” and that I made their days better. It was maybe the nicest card ever. Ever since that card, I rarely hold back telling people when they make my day better, or if I appreciate them, because that card made me feel so good.

In any case, this family knows nothing about me, except that I’m in medical school. When I saw them, I told them that the card they gave me changed my life (it did). They proceeded to ask me about med school and congratulate me, etc. It was strange to feel like they appreciated me for who I am, but then spent their time congratulating me on med school (furthest from ‘who I am’, in my mind). So the dichotomy played itself out. It was lovely to see them. It did leave me feeling a little confused inside about my identity.


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