Saturday, May 14, 2011


As I went for an intense, adrenaline filled run, the evening before my "big dance", I couldn't help but become overwhelmed with pride. Working out is nearly the only time I truly feel focused, relaxed, emotional, invigorated and determined all at the same time. The endorphin's, combined with a mind free from distraction, creates the perfect recipe for positive self reflection. As I jogged, I thought to myself: I have made it. I will receive the distinguished title of Doctor in the morning. As I reflected on the road that lead to this accomplishment, and the meaning of this title, I did not feel boastful. I did not think for one second about the possible societal status change that some people feel this title automatically bestows. I did not hope to gain respect from anybody or feel any sense of entitlement. I simply felt proud of myself. And then wondered if that was allowed? Socially acceptable?
It is commonly taught that pride is a "deadly" sin. People generally look negatively on the word, especially when it is being used by an individual to describe them self. It is somewhat acceptable to be proud of your team, your friends, your family, your children, but proud of yourself? Huh uh, no way, not allowed. Society would prefer you to strive for the descriptors: humble, sacrificing, giving. So, I decided to look up the meaning of the word, and found this:

Pride (n) 1: a feeling of honour and self-respect; a sense of personal worth. 2: A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

I think the definition of the word is completely fitting, so, for the next couple of days I choose to embrace my true emotion. I am proud. For once, the narcissist in me is right and deserving. I worked really hard to get where I am. It took a really long time. It took dedication. It took perseverance. It took sacrifice and love and every word you can think of that you have seen on a motivational plaque or those "Successories" posters.
And with my pride, I have not forgotten the people that got me here. I have not forgotten the numerous hours of free babysitting from my supportive family. The dinners they provided. The listening ear. Their constant encouraging words. Their unending belief in my abilities. Their trust. And most of all, their patience and understanding. During the moments when I failed, or had doubts, I expected nothing but disappointment from these people who had so selflessly offered their services, but that emotion never existed for them. I think my mom even laughed when I suggested such a thing. I felt guilty every time I asked for assistance. After all, it was I who chose to attend medical school. I chose to have two children during this rigorous curriculum. I put too much on my plate, and then shoved some of it onto theirs, and they NEVER flinched. Thank goodness.

So, I hope all of you will stop for a moment and enjoy your sense of pride from this accomplishment. Because it is ok to be happy, and proud about something that you have earned. I know I am.

Dr. Erin M. O'Laughlin

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