Esa, on communication and being the new kid on the block

June 30, 2009

A bit of a personal post today…

So, as you may have gleaned from my previous post, I have only just started working at my graduate institution. My program is part of a larger medical school which, in turn, is only one of many medical schools and hospitals in the area. I have lived in major cities before, but this new place is particularly daunting. There are people of all different backgrounds, speaking numerous languages. There are doctors, nurses, students, administrators, scientists, volunteers, patients, visitors… the list goes on and on. I can’t help but reflect on how there must be a certain camaraderie among those around me. All of them are working toward the same goal of improving human health – and this is a brotherhood I am now a part of. However, I still feel like nothing more than a face in the crowd, on the outside looking in, so to speak. I don’t like to think of myself as a shy person and, to be honest, I probably have more self confidence than is normal, but this is a challenge like I’ve never faced. Classes haven’t started yet, and everyone in my lab is in a completely different stage of life than I am and knows I will be here for only a few short weeks before school begins, so making new friends has proven to be difficult.

Here’s where the irony comes in…

This morning when I came into work, I found myself in an elevator with only one other person, a guy about my age. First of all, standing in an elevator alone with people I’ve never met is one of the most uncomfortable experiences in the world for me, mostly because I hate silence (when I’m in an elevator all alone, I sing – much to the amusement to the people standing outside when the doors open). Over the last week and a half though, I’ve become accustomed to staring at my shoes (they’re red and shiny, not such a bad thing to stare at) while stuck in a 5′ x 6′ with a couple of professors I’ve never met and to whom I would not know what to say. But today, as I said, it was not a clique of doctors or anything so intimidating, just this boy named Henry.

So, right now you’re saying to yourself: “Ah, she knows his name, she must have spoken to him!”. Well, you would be wrong. A place as large and security conscious as the one I work in means one thing: badges. He walked into the elevator, I gave a weak smile, and, rather than say hello and ask his name as I would have two weeks ago, I immediately checked his name on his badge, as he did mine. I noticed his was blue, as mine is, indicating that Henry, like me, is a temporary employee and, as I thought to myself: “You should introduce yourself. He’s probably just as lost as you are.” the doors opened and we walked in opposite directions into the never-ending labyrinth that is the building I work in. I will probably never see Henry again.

Next time, I will speak first. I hope you will remember this and do the same.

~ Esa

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