“It is in loving others that we best love ourselves” a quote by Thomas Merton, a catholic author of No Man Is an Island. I love this quote; so much, in fact, that I have it tattooed across my rib cage. I wish I could tell you that there was some profound, philosophical reason I got this tattoo, but if I’m being honest, I was 21 and decided I really wanted one. I went to my apartment, picked up my favorite book, weighed options of text I had underlined, picked this, then called and made an appointment at a tattoo parlor. I got the tattoo in Farsi, my father’s native language, so when people see it, I get the typical question “what does your tattoo say?” In the three years I have had this ink inscription, this question continually forces me to evaluate its meaning. I translate this to say, it is in the surrendering of ourselves, the bearing of our cross and the giving of everything we have, that we allow those we serve to fill our hearts and reveal pieces of ourselves we did not previously know. It is a call to servant-hood; to be servants to one another, washing the feet of those who are unlike you (which is literally everyone), humbling yourself and revealing your humanity to those in need.
You may be thinking “Well, what in the heck does this have to do with PA school, Ashlyn?” To you, I reply what doesn’t it have to do with it? Did you not choose this path to become a tireless servant to your patients? This may seem an interesting concept as it is not as simple as “helping” people. We come into this expecting to save a few lives, feel like a better person, but hopefully to remain mostly the same. What we forget, what I imagine that we will soon find out, is that this profession is a calling to pour out every ounce of ourselves only to be filled by our encounters with others. These are the moments that teach us what we are capable of, how to grow, and what it really means to love ourselves. These 27 months will change you, if you allow them to. This profession will change you. It’s never easy; with knowledge comes responsibility, but my hope is that we allow this responsibility to be one that humbles us and brings us closer to a place of loving who we have become through the impact of those we serve.