My mask is not fully painted. Several areas are exposed and bare, and the color theme is earthy and grounded. This reflects the ways I’ve grown and changed over the past several years since graduating college and spending three years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. That place forced me to surrender to the weather, the harsh realities of the world that for so long I’d been protected from, and most importantly I was forced to reckon with the fact that I am grown now, and I must take all of the things I am learning to decide what kind of work I will do, what kind of person I will be, and where my place in the world will be.
I am trying to keep the parts of me alive that became calloused, and then softened through the winters in Rosebud. In the environment of medical school I am finding myself tempted to be caught up in the competition and selfishness that permeated my undergraduate education at Emory, even as I attend a school that prides itself on collaboration. It reveals to me how much of these attitudes we self-impose – and that if we are willing to actually open our eyes and look at what’s there, often the things we THINK are there, are in fact NOT. I am finding that the more I look (instead of assuming the environment that has been the norm for so long for me), the more I see opportunities to be my whole self with my classmates, and invite others to do the same. We all benefit from each other’s willingness to be bravely vulnerable. And we all need to be reminded that there is, in fact, room, for all of us.