A poem

Cohort

Cast minds back to that letter

The “we’re delighted to offer you a place with us” letter

That moment was an “I did it. I did it”

And those months leading up to that first day it was more of the same…

“When I start, … where will I live, … I’ll do this, do that, … I’ll show that I…”

Those fantasies, weren’t they “I’ll help… I’ll heal, me, I”

I, I, I

So many “I”s

But.

The first day arrives

And aren’t we swallowed up whole?

From I

To eyes

Trying to catch them

Because room 433 could be 4 million and 33

Seeking 

Just

One ally, one friend

One person who doesn’t already have a fucking PhD

And as this is done

Noticing how “my experience, my knowledge” pales

And later

A knock back from a patient and perhaps it fades further

A kick from a supervisor and maybe that me is barely there

And even those wonderful refreshing lectures

They too

Remind us that it wasn’t a me or an I but perhaps privilege all along

Then 

(Perhaps without noticing)

We have been buoyed, been carried

By those other eyes

By those other “I”s

By these allies who see our mistakes, yet stick around

By those fucking PhDers who, it transpires, bring kindness too

By these new friends

So, gradually

Humility thrives

And

In sessions

In place of a polite pause before we speak, we listen

In place of our own lurch to reframe, we are curious

In place of our learned advice we say “I wonder…”

And there comes a day when it feels like

It is not I

It was never just me

So there’s no surprise that it jars when

Handing in

Submitting

Qualifying

Others say

“well done you”

“you must be so proud”

“all your hard work!”

And of course I’m the one with the fucking doctorate…

But today

I see you all, wonderful doctors

I see your “I”s

I see your beautiful eyes

Your knowledge, our wisdom

Your ability, our skill

Your strength, our resilience

Your achievement, our success 

Your kindness,

Our cohort.

Our wonderful cohort.