Responsibility, Vulnerability and Other Scary things

I can’t say that I’m a typical med student. I have never dreamed of wearing the white coat before joining med school. In fact, I have a certain level of hostility towards my own white coat. It might probably be due to the fact that it makes me look more of a butcher than a doctor in training. I only put it on when I absolutely have to, and not for a second longer. The reason for this has to do with the feelings that I get when I put on that great symbol of knowledge, healing and eradication of suffering.

The white coat represents an enormous responsibility; a responsibility that I do not feel worthy of discharging in my present state of near ignorance on medical procedures and other practical skills. I constantly think of what I could possibly do if someone collapsed in front of me while I had that white coat on. Then, everyone would be looking up to me to miraculously bring the unconscious human being back to the land of the living. This nightmare has bothered me so much that I have downloaded a first aid book. I plan to read a few pages of it every day. You never know when you’ll have to step up. You never know when a person’s life might rest in your hands. I have began to understand how sensitive healthcare is; how solemn a profession it can be.

I’m scared of extending myself. I no longer carry my heart on my sleeves. I can’t say that it has been scarred. How can a person suffer intense heartbreak if that person was not officially involved in any serious relationship? However, out of the four remarkable women (more on this at a later time) I’ve come across in my short life, three have managed to get under my skin and change my innocent, naive outlook on the world and on the dance between the sexes. It saddens me that I have become very defensive. It feels like I have lost an integral part of my childhood forever.

I’m scared of taking the lead. I shy away from taking charge, from imposing my will on others. Even when the situation demands it. This is something that will have to change quickly, if I’m to be responsible for the lives of others. Someone will have to make the hard decisions. It is becoming increasingly clear that I’ll have to make a sizable number of them in the near future. That white coat will force me out of my comfort zone sooner than I’d expected. Am I really ready to meet the challenge? Has anyone ever been?

Responsibility and vulnerability. Two scary, intimidating words.

History has shown me that no matter how much I might want to shun the two, they will always be closely attached to my heart of hearts. For us to experience love, we must put ourselves out there in the big, bad world. We must take the risk and allow our vulnerability to be seen. We have to lay down our pride and humble ourselves. After three misfires, I have intimate knowledge of how hard this can be.

In as much as there is the chance of getting hurt by opening ourselves to others, there is great joy when the feeling is reciprocated. It is that joy that I’m looking for. In as much as being responsible for the life of another human being can be terrifying (especially when your mind feels blank and totally incapable of performing the task at hand), someone has to stand between the living and the dead, preventing some from going too soon and easing the passage of the rest from this life to whatever lies on the other side of the great divide.

Responsibility and vulnerability. Let us embrace them. Let us thrive around them. The alternative is not worth writing home about.

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