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  • Sunia Khan

Excess Selflessness

It was my high school graduation party.

A friend gave a speech for me.

She said if we were stuck in a desert,

and we found one water bottle there,

I would leave all of the water for my friend to drink.

She called me selfless.

I was truly flattered in the moment.

Flash-forward to college,

I ended up doing a lot of things in the name of selflessness.

Staying up late in my dorm room to make sure my floor-mates got to their rooms safely after

their night of partying.

Going with my friend to a concert in which I didn’t particularly know or like the band,

But going because I knew it would make her happy through a rough patch in her life.

Trying to solve the problem of low adult literacy rates.

Trying to break the stigma of mental health issues among the Muslim population.

Trying to improve health among underserved communities,

To the point that I would use my own money to pay for people with unreliable transportation

to make it to their clinic visits.

But these acts in the name of selflessness were excessive.

It was self-abandonment.

It was burnout.

How can I make sure I’m taking care of myself, while also trying to take care of others?

Now, I’m in medical school, and I’m still trying to learn the answers to this question.

And I’m not an expert,

But I think it may come down to making time for doing the things you love.

Making time for your loved ones.

Setting boundaries with others and with your work-life.

And knowing you cannot save every person,

Or fix every problem in the world,

But you can try your best to be an advocate for others.

And most importantly,

You can try your best to be an advocate for yourself.


- Sunia Khan

@suniakhan10


About the author:

Sunia is an MS2 at the University of California, Irvine. She is passionate about improving the health of underserved communities. She enjoys painting, drawing, photography, writing, community service, and spending time in nature.

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