The Strangeness Inside

It’s interesting applying to residency
while noticing what’s residing in me.

I never knew conflicting feelings
could co-exist like this–
insecurity, pride, anxiety, accomplishment
all equally alive,
swimming alongside these words:

………“I got exactly what I wanted.”

— Will I be able to answer this way (honestly)
………when others ask about my match?
— Where will I be?
— How do I choose to order my rank list?
— What difference will it make?
— Do I even have a say?
— What happened to simply wanting to be happy
………and okay?
— What do I want, exactly?

I wonder if this discomfort will linger
for as long as it takes to remember…

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

She was in the process of applying for her residency and told me she had a lot of anxiety around the match. “There’s a lot of uncertainty, confusion, and guilt,” she said. “At the same time, I’m proud that I’m being offered so many interviews, having worked this hard to get here and overcome so many challenges.” She shared that what felt different about this experience than others in the past was that this time, she wasn’t experiencing these conflicting emotions as a pendulum, moving back-and-forth between them. Instead, they were all intensely present at the same time. “It’s strange to feel lightness and heaviness simultaneously–like I’m being lifted up and dragged down. There is so much mish mashing together,” she said. She told me that she loved poetry, and used to use it to help her sort through her feelings. “I’d like for this poem to help me make sense of my own experience: to offer some closure where there is no closure, and to remind me what’s important,” she said. “Maybe it will inspire me to start writing poetry again…”

Interviewee: Anonymous, Medical Student
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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