At some point, it stopped feeling like playing dress-up.
I bought my first suit for my medical school interviews. I wore my badly fitting, not especially stylish suit to every interview with pride, but every time I put it on, I felt like I was just pretending to be a grownup.
And then I got accepted, and I started medical school, and I got my white coat that very first week. Over the first two years, I was required to wear my white coat and professional clothes every so often - for the sessions where we learned to do H&Ps, to patient presentations, to OSCEs. On my way to my first session with a real live patient, a man in the hallway saw my white coat and asked me where the bathroom was; of course, having been in the hospital a grand total of zero times, I had no clue. I felt like an impostor. I was playing dress-up; I wasn’t really a grownup; those clothes were mine, but they weren’t my real clothes.
Third year started, and as I put it, I started having to “dress like a grownup” every day (except when I wore scrubs - then I got to wear pajamas to work). Those first few months, it still felt like playing dress-up. I bought more work clothes (I needed more than 3 outfits if I was gonna have to look professional 6 days a week), and I found some that let my personality show a little, rather than the boring, frumpy clothes I had bought for interviews. But for some reason, it still felt like I was putting on an act. I was only pretending to be a grownup. I was only pretending to know what I was doing. I put on my professional facade, and then I came home and allowed myself to be me once again.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point, it stopped feeling like playing dress-up. This morning, I got up. I put on the clothes I laid out the night before - the pants from the suit I wore to interview, and the blouse I wore to my interview at my current school. They felt like my clothes, finally. I went to the hospital. I said hi to the staff I’ve gotten to know over the past month on this rotation. I got signout from the night team. I saw my patients and told them what the plan was for the day. I laughed at their jokes and made some of my own - I’ve learned to find the balance between being professional and being my genuine self, and I’m seeing how much better I connect with people when I’m not so worried about being the perfect professional all the time. I knew what I needed to do and I got it done. I was no longer just wearing the clothes and going through the motions.
I didn’t feel like I was pretending to be a grownup - I knew I was one.
btw while i’m still thinking about it and before i chicken out on the idea – i mentioned a while ago that i was thinking about making a more professional blog (probably on like, blogspot or wordpress or something) to answer science questions and flex my science writing muscles a little
if i were to do that, how many of you might actually read it?