This letter is written by a young woman to her earlier self whose career is about to take a huge transformation. In this letter, she reflects on which characteristics and attitudes she wishes to retain and what she hopes to accomplish as she progresses forward to achieving her medical dreams. She also hopes that it will inspire other girls to go confidently as they pursue their scientific careers.
I hope you’re well. I cannot tell you what you will encounter in the next four years, the people who will change your life, the experiences that will leave an ingrained memory in your brain. A lot of questions flood my mind as I think about the journey you will go through: Do you still keep your sense of poetry? Your creative writing? Does the idea of taking care of another human being terrify you? Do you still give humorous lectures of how things work in the molecular world? Do you still only eat fish and vegetables just to keep your mental faculties sane? (Please do relax sometimes! And find time to play chess!) Most importantly, are you happy with the career path and the life that you have chosen?
But I know one thing for certain: You are amazing, and you will achieve great things in life.
I recognize your personality quirks and your ambitious drive to accomplish many things at a young age. I can tell you are shy and unsure. I can see that you attempt to cover up that insecurity by putting yourself through a rigorous sleep and diet regimen and controlling every part of your daily life. I don’t expect you to lose that insecurity overnight, but I do hope that you will harness that insecurity and your talents into becoming a better you.
Can you see your own light? Are you aware of your own brilliance?
I am aware of the times when you felt small, the times when you thought there is a “you” and “them.” You usually do not trust anyone, and you’d most likely fact-check that person’s statement first before believing them. Even though you have won many scientific accolades, “scientific culture” still feels foreign to you. You are about to enter into a profession that requires you to cope with a lot of mentally-demanding experiences, a profession that encourages a divide between the provider and patient, the healer and healed. However, I hope that you do not stray too far from what it means to be a physician, but rather exercise the rules of detachment and empathy carefully.
As you become more knowledgeable, I hope you never forget who you are. You hold your special kind of intelligence, the kind of wisdom that goes far into the future. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone because there is no one like you. You are a wonderful collection of magical and raw talents. You have conquered obstacles that no one else could. You know things that no one else knows. You are good at things that no one else does better than you. Your life story is a work of art.
I hope you always look in the mirror and remind yourself how incredibly fortunate you are to have the choice to do what you are doing. Because even when you are in the midst of great darkness, you have the power to lead and inspire the people around you. I hope you never have an ego the size of Jupiter, and I hope you keep reflecting on your life experiences through writing. I hope you find the right specialty that works for you. Will you still strive to be an orthopedic surgeon, or would you choose to become a neurologist? I hope you find a mentor that works for you, like an enzyme and its substrate, someone whom you admire and respect. I hope you continue to not take things personally, but rather let your heart guide you to where you want to go.
I want you to keep the passion and the ambition to become the best physician, the best researcher, the best teacher… basically, the best version of yourself. Please don’t try to change who you are. Your life is important, and you cannot be replaced.
Thank you for being you.
I wish you all the best, and I hope to see you in four years.
Cover photo: Wikimedia Commons
Originally published at The Huffington Post