Back in March, I got the gift of spending 24 hours in Kingston and caught up with some of my most favourite souls- including the incredibly talented Lorenzo. I am always in awe and so proud of him, and seeing this project blossom over the past few months has been so beautiful. When he asked me to contribute my thoughts, I told him that unfortunately, although I could talk anyone’s ear off, writing wasn’t my thing. Further to that, I didn’t really think I had a specific message or story that merited attention. He wouldn’t let me off the hook that easy, and before I knew it, the camera was out, shots were fired, and we decided to do a sort of interview/candid conversation that would hopefully be more me. So here we are, many many weeks later, and I’ve finally decided to stop making excuses, sit down with my tea, and pretend that the lovely Lorenzo is sitting across from me. The verbal diarrhea that you are about to read (if you choose to continue) may not be filled with powerful insights or advice, but it will be me.

What is your greatest vulnerability that not many people know about?

Oooh, cutting right to the chase. I think for starters, I struggle to admit that I can be vulnerable. I don’t know when, but somewhere along that lovely path of childhood and forming an identity, I decided I was gonna be the tough cookie and the one who could handle it all. For as long as I can remember, playing perfect has always been much easier than embracing all the elements of my reality. It’s very Olivia Pope “I can handle it” without the other 99% of the show that involves affairs and terrorists and politics.

Overall, I’d say it’s a mentality that suited me well. On paper, I’d like to think I’ve accomplished a fair bit for someone who is 23. And more importantly, off paper, pursuing those experiences has introduced me to some of the most wonderful people that I think have ever existed in all of time. I’ve been blessed (not #blessed, but truly gifted and honoured) with an amazing support network that believes in me unconditionally. But I think there have been times, where fear of disappointing my loved ones, has also prevented from wanting to admit I was struggling. It’s an incredibly dangerous thing if you allow your supports to become your restraints. The day you stop yourself from pursuing a dream, or hold yourself back because you fear failure, and the impact that will have on your “reputation” is simply not a good day. I think I’m learning to recognize what true support means and how powerful a force it can be. Unconditional isn’t actually unconditional if people are only interested in the perfect version of you. There are about a million rap songs that come to mind with this theme (‘mo money ‘mo problems if we want to go with iconic), but it’s so true. The trick is to identify those who love 100% of you, and not to allow yourself to be become lost in the perception everyone else may hold.

So, simple answer would be that I don’t have a single greatest vulnerability, but that depending on the day/the moment/the season, it changes and learning to recognize that has been such a key to personal development. When I need help- identifying that becomes my greatest vulnerability. When I’m living all of my dreams- struggling against an ego is my greatest vulnerability. Seeing myself in the mirror or on camera is still a vulnerability, and any movie where the beloved pet dies is definitely a vulnerability. I’m recognizing them now, embracing them when they lead to growth, and challenging them when they stifle me. It’s a process, but a beautiful one.

Think about the time / event you were really struggling or challenged with. Was there a person who helped you, said or did something that changed that situation?

The funny thing is, I’m having a tough time singling out an isolated challenging event right now. What does come to mind are the small struggles and moments of insecurity that I’ve lived over the past few years. Nothing profound, but simple things like being unsure if I could simultaneously plan “x” event, hand in “y” assignment, attend “z” concert, and still be a kind human. Lately, in my final year of med, it’s been a lot of “why don’t I know this?”, “do they expect me to know this?”, and “will I ever be good at this?”. This is the part of sharing I dreaded getting to because compared to so many others who have shared their stories on Rise over Run, what I just described above sounds so shallow and privileged. And it is, I recognize that, I do. But I think that daily challenges can be the most dangerous if you don’t address them. They’ll take a piece of you with them till suddenly, when you need all your strength to face a big difficulty, or get the courage to pursue a dream, there’s not enough there.

So, what have people told me all those times? They told me the usual stuff, the “we’re here to support you”, “call me if you need anything”, “you got this girl”, “take time if you need it”, “I believe in you” etc etc. The difference is that when they said they believed in me, they said it with such conviction that I had no choice but to trust them. And then, surely enough, I believed in myself. I had the confidence to pursue my dreams unabashedly, to be creative, to take risks, to push through, and then- to celebrate our accomplishments.

Now, when I talk with friends who lately seem to be mostly dealing with life’s little-big questions- the “what will I be”, “what should I do”, “what’s next” questions, I tell them I believe in them- and I mean it. That faith meant and continues to mean the world to me. I’ve already said it, but seeing someone for all that they are and saying you believe in that is an incredible thing. It’s a shame we often don’t see in ourselves what others see in us, but I plan to do my part in changing that- I simply wouldn’t be as happy and fulfilled as I am if others hadn’t done it for me.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Oh finally an easy question. Easy because I actually think about this all the time- and by all the time, I mean anytime Beyoncé’s “I Was Here” comes up on my iPhone (so basically all the time). Simple answer is that I hope to have made this world better for someone because of my existence. Not necessarily in a lofty- save a life way (though that would be wonderful), but in a, made them laugh when they were crying way. Oh, and I want to be known as someone who didn’t take an opportunity/a friendship/or a day for granted. That’s all. That would be perfect.

So, signing off now. I’m not sure if the vagueness of everything I just spewed above is helpful, but there are a few last things I firmly believe that I do want to share:

1. Everyone who crosses your path has something to teach you- be patient and kind or you risk never finding out what that lesson could be;

2. Take time to reflect daily/weekly/monthly (literally sit and think, with or without the inspirational music) on what made you happy, what challenged you, and how you plan to grow;

3. Open yourself up to others, even if that means being more of a chewy cookie than a tough cookie (I’m still working hard at this one)