coffee date #17 with aaishwariya gulani
note: this was my first coffee date out-of-state! NJ –> FL
weird note: during the date, there were random families of roosters walking around on the street, so we kept getting distracted at the crazy occurrence. 😂
me: caramel nitro cold brew w/ almond milk | aaishwariya: iced chai latte
Meet a real-life queen! Aaishwariya Gulani – Miss India USA 2020 and a future doctor, who will slay and change the lives of many.
I first “met” Aaishwariya in Texas for the Miss India USA pageant a year ago. Coffee date #7 and I watched in awe as all the contestants looked exotic onstage. One of those many contestants was Aaishwariya.
Since then, Aaishwariya has been doing amazing with not only balancing her “pageant life,” but also her medical life. She is currently in her 3rd year of medical school and has co-created the MS5 podcast, which is “about personal and professional development for medical students.” Check out one of their episodes below!
Aaishwariya and I didn’t have much of a chance to connect earlier, which is why I’m ecstatic for this coffee date so that we can analyze life through her eyes.
- The world of medicine fuels burnout if it’s not your ultimate passion.
As a current 3rd year medical student, Aaishwariya obviously has a lot of experience in the world of medicine already. Hence why my first question to her was “Is medicine really worth it if everyone is just so burned out and exhausted all the time?”
I asked this not because I was considering changing fields, but because I see the ED doctors I work with as a medical scribe struggle with their jobs due to burnout and exhaustion. It made me wonder if that was how my life was going to turn out to be like 20 years from now.
Aaishwariya replied by saying that medicine is really like any other profession:
“You have to love it immensely because it’s never going to be fun and amazing unless you love it. It has to come from you.” – Aaishwariya Gulani, 2021
With my job and Aaishwariya explaining her medical experience, I realized that doctors spend very little time actually interacting with the patient and much more time handling the administrative tasks (such as patient EMRs) for their patient encounters. This side of medicine is not advertised for us premed students, so we enter the medical field thinking that we’re going to be with patients all day every day, which is a very innocent perspective.
The part that Aaishwariya fell in love with that fuels her love for medicine is the creation of patient care plans. She described that a team consisting of an attending, residents, and other medical students – who all come from different medical backgrounds – work together to arrive at a holistic treatment plan for the patient. She found beauty in the process of her team reaching one simple conclusion: help the person who trusts that you will better their lives.
- Medicine is not a linear journey.
I do want to emphasize Aaishwariya’s road to medical school because it further signified to me that there is no linear route to become a doctor (or to become anything for that matter).
Aaishwariya was a Wharton premed, meaning her major was related to business at Penn. While fulfilling her major requirements, Aaishwariya also met her premed requisites. Upon graduating Penn, Aaishwarya told me that she already had a job for business lined up. However, she knew that she wanted to go into medicine, so she allowed herself to be open and take risks by applying to medical schools.
I always love hearing stories of people who could have settled for something they already had, but instead chose to listen to their inner self and go after the thing they wanted. That is exactly what Aaishwariya did and I AM SO HAPPY FOR HER!
- Women in medicine are still not taken as seriously as men.
It’s amazing how much progress the world has made with gender equality and how women are treated in the workforce. However, we are still so far from reaching that goal and it’s sad that we even have to work to make sure every single person understands that women and men need to be treated equally.
“The whole concept of the medical hierarchy is self-propelling.” – Aaishwariya Gulani, 2021
Aaishwariya described how when she goes into to see patients with another male colleague, the patients often look at the male medical student for answers instead of Aaishwariya even though the patient was assigned to her. This particular example is not a flaw of the medical field, but rather the flawed mentality that many people still continue to possess – which is that men know more than women so let’s look at the man in the room for the treatment plan. It may seem trivial for many, but it’s all of these micro instances that build up and essentially lead to gender oppression in any field of life.
- Hustle culture and imposter syndrome in IVY universities.
Since Aaishwariya is an IVY graduate, I had to ask her if the rigorous curriculum and competitive nature of Penn was worth it for her.
Similar to coffee date #15, she told me that imposter syndrome is a very real thing in such universities because the environment can demolish your morale. Aaishwariya agreed that many struggle and lose themselves in the process of achieving that IVY diploma. On the other hand, she states that this process helped her find herself all over again.
“Penn breaks you so that you can build yourself back up.” – Aaishwariya Gulani, 2021
Aaishwariya said that after what she went through in Penn, she was that much more prepared for the rigor of medical school. She understood what was required of her, so she learned how to balance her academic and personal life in undergrad, which made the medical school transition much smoother.
- Pageantry is still stuck in the past when it comes to women’s bodies.
Though pageants have changed both of our lives, Aaishwariya and I agreed that some of the people and organizations involved in pageantry are stuck in the past.
How often do we see a woman who does not fit the “ideal body type” compete or even win a pageant?
Though pageants are empowering and help women build confidence, we believe that they can do much more to demolish the idea of what a women should look so that it can truly make every woman feel included and worthy.
- Identifying the truest, most beautiful self sets a clear “goal” for our lives.
It was heartwarming to listen to Aaishwariya answer the question “What is the truest, most beautiful you?” with the answer:
“My truest, most beautiful self is able to be there for everyone I love AND be there for myself as well.” – Aaishwariya Gulani, 2021
I feel like we often forget to maintain a relationship with our selves as we get caught up trying to maintain relationships with other people. So when Aaishwariya said that she will surely be there for any of her loved ones, but will also be there for herself, it was a gentle reminder to make sure that we don’t sacrifice our own mental health and emotional wellbeing in the process of meeting the demands of our socially-constructed roles.
Thank you Glennon Doyle for empowering so many people to always listen to our truest, most authentic selves.