My Brown Woman Doctor White Coat

Written by: Rida Khan
Published on: May 2, 2022

Indian female doctor
Photo credit: fizkes/Adobe Stock

Recently, after graduating from medical school and completing my last board exam, Step 3, I decided to branch out and indulge in forgotten joys, things I used to like that may have dampened over the past few coming-of-age years.

I reached out to several professional organizations of which I was a student member and volunteered to join the newsletter, more to edit and organize than to write. I have not written in a while (apart from sporadic diaries, Tweets, and Tumblr posts–my roommate in college told me those don’t count), and as a constitutionally shy person, I wouldn’t put myself out there for the world. Everyone was very excited to have me on board. One of the editors told me enthusiastically that I would have a unique perspective for their publication, as a female medical student during the Covid pandemic. Feebly and stupidly, I said, “I don’t know if I’ll have anything to say about it other than that it was horrible and I hated it…” and flashed a wide and anxious smile.

That moment is etched into my memory; the tone of my voice, the expression I wore, the instant censure of the super-ego setting in microseconds later. The minute I expressed my truth, I felt inadequate and like the embodiment of a massive disappointment. While I am still deciphering the mystery of that exchange, I am coming to see that the world desires us to capitalize on our strengths and weaknesses in equal measure–which is to say that strengths and weaknesses are relative, fluid definitions of phenomena, far from set in stone. A weakness is not a weakness at all.

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