Ria Philip

coffee date #9 with ria philip

moral anchor, patient & kind, premed student, brought the best Indian food for lunch, owner of the cutest smile, sexy notetaker

fun fact: “Ria” is spelled the way it is because Mr. Philip supposedly messed up the spelling on her birth certificate. I thought that was hilarious. Love the spelling though, very elegant 🙂

me: green passion papaya tea | ria: chicken frontega panini
location: panera bread, new jersey

Brace faced and completely lost in the world of Allied, I was absolutely terrified to go to high school. That’s when Ria came in. She was one of my first friends (aside from coffee date #4 of course) at Allied and we’ve stuck together since. 

From sharing tiny chairs whenever we went anywhere (computer lab, lunch, club meetings) to sharing our most valuable life experiences together, we survived Allied and made it into our freshman year of college. 

Ria is that one friend who finishes all their work well before it’s due, sleeps by 10pm, never yells obnoxiously at people, and always looks like they have all their shit together. She’s also the oddball who actually enjoys public speaking and is extremely good at it. It’s odd because “a fear of public speaking was found to be a more pressing concern than death” for many people, including me at one point. But this is what makes Ria such a queen!!!

There is not a single soul who would or has ever hated Ria because she’s the person people go to to make sure that they aren’t doing anything wrong. In essence, Ria is coffee date #2 in adolescent form, which explains why I respect Ria so much and connected so well with her. 

We’d talk about anything and everything, from the most trivial to the most important things happening in our lives and around us. Ria knows exactly what to say for any given situation, which is freaking amazing because that just shows how well she can empathize with other people and understand what they need to hear in that particular moment. 

However, she also knows when to call people out on their BS. I vividly remember Ria calling me out my freshman year at Allied for being rude to someone else we knew. She said it straight to my face.

Ladies and gents, when Ria Philip tells you that you’re doing something wrong, then you surely are doing something wrong and you better fix it. I went home that day and thought about what Ria had told me and realized that she was right (obviously). I texted her to thank her for making me see the way I was acting. She texted back (I still have the screenshots lmaoo) and said something along the lines of:

“I didn’t tell you to hurt you, but I told you because I wanted you to be aware of it. I know that you are not defined by what happened today, which is why I wanted you to know about it….”

SHE WAS 14 WHEN SHE TEXTED ME THAT! The level of maturity at the age of 14. I’m still shocked.

She has proceeded to call me out on my BS several other times or provide the absolute best advice whenever I needed it. People always say that if you surround yourself with the right people, then you will grow into someone better every day. Ria Philip is that one person that everyone needs to be surrounded by because she has the ability to make everyone around her become their truest and most authentic selves. 


  • Don’t be a “cookie-cutter” applicant.

I am burned tf out. April is such a terrible month (imo) because professors seem to work together to assign every assignment, quiz, and exam during this month. So, balance is something that I felt that I have been missing recently. Hence, why I wanted to ask the most balanced person I know, advice on how she prevents herself from getting burned out.

Ria started off by saying that we’ll be just fine when it comes time for medical school. I wondered how she could be so sure as she continued to explain that we were in the same boat a few years ago when we were applying for undergraduate college.

“We ended up being just fine,” she said. “For these applications, it’s all about the story. We just have to make a good story out of whatever we did with our lives.”

She’s right! What medical school admissions see is only what we allow them to see on our applications. I can do multiple things that I believe will help me for medical school (by stalking all the medical student Youtubers), but none of that will help me if I fail to write about those experiences in an authentic manner.

“Don’t be a cookie cutter applicant.” – Ria Philip, 2021

Essentially, the secret to handling burn out (at least for premed students who are freaking out about medical school) is to realize that we’re on the right path because it’s all about how you portray yourself on your application.

  • There is something greater to life than what we’re doing right now.

This part of our conversation was insane.

A couple weeks ago I told my mom that I wanted to take a gap year before medical school to go to Varanasi and just meditate to discover my spiritual self. AND RIA SUPPOSEDLY TOLD HER MOM THE SAME THING! (obviously not in Varanasi, but she told her Mom that she too wanted to go and meditate in Tibet before medical school!)

We both agreed that there is a bigger meaning to life. We’re stuck in a materialistic, money-minded world that we cannot escape, no matter how hard we try. And the damn hustle culture. We try so hard to keep going in hopes of one day achieving our goals, but we somehow just continue to chase our own tails and never actually reach that point.

Ria touched upon that whole idea of dying young. We talked about how it’s sad that life is so unexpected and anything can happen, so dying before we’ve even discovered the true meaning of life rattled us a bit.

  • Spirituality helps us tap into something extraordinary.

Jumping off the previous point, I asked Ria about her spirituality and why she believes in a higher power. She said that believing in something greater helps to keep herself grounded.

By this she means:

“You’re only in control of what you can control. It’s impossible to control everything in life.” – Ria Philip, 2021

For control-freaks, spirituality is a great place to start. Knowing that some parts of our lives are inevitably fixed and we cannot control them provides us with a sense of peace and relief.

  • We don’t owe our consideration to every single person we meet.

Ria is one of the most secure people I’ve ever met. It comes from a place of knowing herself so well that she doesn’t need to rely on other people’s opinions to know her worth. Incredible.

I asked her where she got this characteristic from because she told me that she was always like this. She recalled that her mother had ingrained the idea of living for only herself from a young age. Additionally, Mrs. Philip always emphasized that it doesn’t matter to her what others do because it’s her own life and she’s going to live it the way she wants to live it.

For example, we’ve all had those moments where we screamed back at our parents and complained that “so-and-so”‘s mom doesn’t do this. Ria said that in moments like those, Mrs. Philip used to say “I don’t care what they do” as many of our parents must have said. However, when Mrs. Philip said it, it came from a place of security, which helped Ria understand from a young age that it really does not matter what other people think or do.

Talking about this made me think of yet another scene from Dear Zindagi that captured this lesson so well:

Overall, confidence can only come from a place of security. Even if you’re gonna “fake it till you make it,” it won’t last long if you don’t develop that self awareness. How exactly can one develop that? I have no idea, but many people have told me and I’ve also read that meditation can help with that (hence, why Mama Kode should let me take a year off to go hibernate in Varanasi).

  • It’s crucial to make sure the younger siblings understand to not compare themselves with their older siblings.

Ria and I are both the older siblings. We’re also both ferociously overprotective of our younger siblings to the point where we’ll cry if we see someone say or do something to hurt our siblings.

As I’m getting ready to move out of the house for college, and my brother is getting ready to enter high school, I’m getting jittery and scared for him because high school is a scary phase. So I asked Ria how we can keep our siblings safe, but also let them stumble along.

The first thing she mentioned is making sure they understand that they are their own person. This is definitely a younger sibling problem, where they are constantly compared to the older one and told that what they are doing is right or wrong depending on what the older one did. GOOD STUFF! I never straight up had this conversation with Arya to let him understand that whatever he wants to do with life is his choice and he doesn’t have to follow the same way I did.

Ria also emphasizes the need for us, the older siblings, to be able to compartmentalize our feelings when it comes to always running to the rescue for our siblings. Our parents obviously never always came to the rescue for us -whether it be intentional or unintentional. They made us figure out our elementary and middle school issues on our own, partly because they weren’t aware of the way kids here could be from a young age as they didn’t go to middle school in the US. Similarly, our siblings will be able to figure their way out too (obviously if it’s something terrible, then we’ll be the first ones there), so it’s just a matter of finding peace with that.

  • Respect.

Ria’s one life lesson is

“Be respectful and kind to everyone around you because you never know what they’re going through.” – Ria Philip, 2021

Yeah, I’ve heard this before, but I’ve never met someone who actually embodies this as much as Ria does. Ria is immensely empathetic. She will cry for absolutely everything even though that cartoon or video has nothing to do with her. Ria can show her emotions in a grand way, a way that I aspire to reach, because having big emotions is a good thing! Despite what we’ve been told growing up, being able to show our emotions is beautiful and what humans are meant to do.

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