Humble pie for the soul
April 29, 2007
I’m at a point where I’m nearing the end of my studies. One chapter is ending, a new chapter beckons. Looking back, I am very fortunate to be able to conclude that I have no regrets since the first day I walked my lil’ self into medical school. Many may think that I am lucky, for it is not an easy journey to complete – let alone to enter – what the general society may deem as a “prestigious” degree; where the career path that follows soon after is assumed filled with noble acts and selfless deeds of alleviating pain and suffering. To be honest, I agree with them in the sense that I consider myself very lucky and very fortunate to be given such an opportunity to pursue something that I have a great interest in. Well but you see, to be inside this bubble where the mere mention of what you’re doing is enough to be at the receiving end of admiration and immense respect – some of it is bound to get to your head. I think we are all vulnerable to that.
During my first day in med school, I told myself never to be arrogant – for there is much more to learn. Never be obnoxious, for being so would mean you could not recognize your downfall as you assume you can never go down. Easier said than done, because most of the time the change or the gradual transformation does not happen overnight nor does it happen in such an obvious fashion. Over time, it is easy for one to think that they are truly “wonderful” or “brilliant” as they are consistently exposed to praises and words of adulation that it has conditioned them over time to believe completely in it. So much so that they begin to believe that they are infallible. The moment one reaches this state that is the time where one is on the path to self-destruction given that nothing else intervenes.
True, that what we are doing by the nature of our job has inevitably placed us on a higher pedestal in the eyes of the general society. True, that by us being placed there by others that we tend to have a certain degree of assurance that we must have somewhat been doing something great enough to deserve ourselves a place “higher up there”. Most of these factors tend to boost one’s ego; reinforcing whatever belief (no matter how minute they may be) that they are great, and they deserve to be great. When that happens, that is when you cease to be truly great. You morph into a bag of hot air. The inflated ego blurs your vision to such a point where you may find it hard to accept that you are wrong. So sure of yourself you become, till you fail to see your weaknesses. Till you do, your weaknesses never cease to manifest.
I have immense respect and admiration for people who are so great at their field of expertise, yet so humble in their approach. Their ability to perform well at what they do in the most simplistic manner is a silent conviction to the great humility they are fortunate to hold on to. They are great not because they just are, they are where they are now due to their admirable trait to recognize and acknowledge their weaknesses hence attempt to correct it and take a step forward. One could not be wise if one could not see there is still much to learn. One also could not improve if one does not see anything that needs to be improved on.
For every problem I encounter in my training, I try to think that there is still much to be learnt. Patients present in a variety of deficits, the more you are exposed to the more you would realize how much you do not know. I believe that is the best way to approach the field as it is indeed a blessing in disguise; for because of them – your knowledge gap comes out so clearly and an opportunity is given for you to change. Everyone knows what they know, but not everyone could recognize what they do not know. When I choose to approach the problems via this method I find that each experience is very fulfilling and enriching as each is as humbling as the last. Instead of being flustered and annoyed because your “greatness” has run into a brick wall, you get this sense of awe and humility that forms the foundation for one to nod at their mistakes and learn from that point on.
So from where I stand at this moment, I hope to emulate the wise men and have pride in recognizing and acknowledging the weaknesses that I have. My head should be held high enough with pride that I truly appreciate and am extremely fortunate for this given opportunity; bowed enough that I shall always remember there are infinite things that my head shall never be higher than for that moment on shall be my downfall. For all of these, I am truly grateful.
Mama and Papa, this one is for you. Thank you very much for walking with me every step of the way.
*blows a kiss and takes a bow*