Somewhere along the way in my pre-med journey, I began to lose sight of why I was doing certain things beyond the purpose of padding my CV. I washed beakers, in the hopes of securing a research position. I restocked hospital cabinets, in the hopes of watching a medical procedure. I TAed classes, in the hopes of showing leadership potential. Each activity became something I ticked off of my “perfect application” checklist.
Then I began volunteering in a pediatric hospital. There were talking disco elevators, framed paintings of previous patients, nurses with Minions scrubs, and a furry green mascot (?) in the lobby. This place and its tiny, unapologetically honest patients brought color back into my life, both literally and figuratively (I was once sassily told that I was using the “wrong color” on my coloring sheet; I had used a yellow Crayon for Pikachu, when Pikachu clearly needed to be blue, he said…).
Just the other day, I was assigned to bring some paints and beads to a shy, reserved little girl. The dialogue was very much one-sided, as I helped her put together some necklaces for her family. She’d nod or point as her method of communication, while I continued to ramble, hoping to make some sort of connection. She eventually pointed at the white piggy bank I’d brought with me, and we began setting up to paint it. “Can you help me with this one? I don’t want to mess it up,” she asked quietly.
This. This is why I love volunteering here. I probably scared her off with my Cheshire Cat grin, but I was so happy that I finally got her to open up to me. She entrusted me with decorating Mr. Piggy, and that’s kind of a big deal in kid world. She even gave me a laugh when I told her that Mr. Piggy was proud of her for being so brave about getting her IV taken out. I’m still not sure if she was laughing at me or with me, but that’s beside the point. Moments like these keep me going back, and I forget about my application for a bit.