Vasu Patel

coffee date #45 with vasu patel

Georgetown med student, tcnj alum 🥺, that-man-who-always-has-an-excessive-amount-of-cologne-on, the ‘father’ of TCNJ underclassmen, Edison native, online chess king

me: lavendar latte w/ oat milk | vasu: caramel macchiato w/ oat milk
location: pretty bird coffee, pennsylvania

note: Vasu is no longer a coffee virgin!

Upon first glance, Vasu Patel appears to be a f***boy from a distance. However, you will quickly be proven wrong once you get to know him.

Vasu was always known as being the ‘father’ of my year and the year below me because he was so good at making the underclassmen feel at home at TCNJ. He’d take us to Tdubs and pay for ALL of the food. He’d actively listen when we’d share our year’s gossip or want some premed life advice. He’d stop and chat with us if he saw us on campus. He made us feel seen and valued.

In fact, we were supposed to have this coffee date ages ago but we had to keep postponing it due to our conflicting schedules. Every time Vasu came back to NJ from DC, he’d shoot me a text and let me know that he was back home. This made me feel valued because he made the effort to remember to text me and show me that he wants to have this coffee date and catch up about each other’s lives.

Here’s a cute little story that shows a bit of Vasu’s warm and radiating personality.

I was invited to Vasu’s surprise birthday party last year. It was a wild night with obviously alcohol involved. Everyone danced their hearts out and bopped with joy. Throughout the night, Vasu would be taking shots with us while also making sure that everyone was okay and being taken care of. At the end of the night, a few of us were spending the night at the house. A bunch of us passed out on the couches in the living room and then I see Vasu cleaning up the cans and food on the kitchen table. The man was cleaning up after his own surprise party that he wasn’t even the host of and was evidently nowhere near as gone as the people who were invited. #thefather

“I enjoy talking about feelings. It’s much needed.” – Vasu Patel, 2023

Vasu Patel is a wholesome soul, so here we are, diving into his world…


  • loneliness

Loneliness is something that majority of us experience – if not yet, then at some point in our lives. However, it’s something that we rarely ever talk about, especially if we’re seen as individuals with a whole lot of friends and family – it’s almost like we think that we shouldn’t feel lonely, but we are, so we mask it all up.

But, I feel like now, the post-pandemic era, is the time to finally speak about it because so many of us are being affected by it. In fact, according to a study by Cigna, “79% percent of adults aged 18 to 24 report feeling lonely compared to 41% of seniors aged 66 and older.” 79%. That’s a hefty number of us who feel as though we are the only ones feeling the way we do.

I refer to loneliness as Dr. L. Every time he comes creeping in, I shoot a text to coffee date #5 and then we figure out a way to unpack it. For some, Dr. L visits when we sense that we are alone.

Vasu described that his loneliness stems from cooping up in his room all day and not really having people around him. Thus, his remedy is to do the things he would do in his room, like studying, outside of his room with his friends. This is Vasu’s own personal way of coping.

It’s also important to note that there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely: “being alone is a state of being, while loneliness is a feeling” (Nystrom & Associates).

I realized that for me Dr. L visits when I feel my true self distancing itself from my current self. This could show up in the form of me changing or acting differently around certain people, feeling misunderstood or invalidated by others, and other times it would come from the fact that I was not spending enough time with myself.

At the beginning of this academic year, I struggled to be alone and wanted to continuously fill my time and space with people thinking that that would make me feel less alone. However, I’d come back to my room after a day filled with meeting and hanging out with a whole bunch of friends, I’d still go to bed with a heavy heart and a tired soul. I’d slowly begin to listen to my social battery and would essentially force myself to just remain alone. Being comfortable with being alone has now become a superpower of mine. That was my remedy.

Now, when Dr. L visits, I know that there is something about my relationship with myself or the people I’ve been spending time with that I need to focus on and fix. At the same time, though, it makes me feel less heavy in the heart when I know that all of us are collectively feeling the same bouts of feelings.

  • imposter syndrome in medical school

Medical school is grueling from what I’ve heard. You’re surrounded by the best of the best and seemingly perfect people, so suddenly, you feel like you do not match the level of perfection of those around you.

“Feeling like an imposter can be detrimental to good mental and physical health. Medical school, while never easy, has become particularly stressful in the past decade. The exhausting pace of medical school, the inherent competition for research and leadership experiences, and the ever looming specter of the licensing exams (USMLE) saps the enthusiasm and empathy with which students arrive at school. Feeling like they are “not good enough” on top of these stressors makes students question their abilities and, in many cases, can lead to social isolation, academic difficulties, and misaligned career paths. Even if career choices are not directly affected, feeling like an imposter causes individuals to have difficulty enjoying or taking credit for their successes.” (Dr. Roshini Pinto-Powell, MD)

Vasu noted that he does have those momentary feelings of imposter syndrome. It’s almost inevitable when you’re thrown into a class full of high-achieving people, who are all of different ages and come with a plethora of different experiences. Thus, there is supposedly a three-point exercise that can help with battling through those feelings of not being enough and feeling like an imposter is:

  1. Acknowledge both positive feedback you have received and your doubts about its authenticity. This will demonstrate how you discount the opinion of other people.
  2. Examine the messages you receive about yourself from others. Understanding the source of your negative self-image can empower you to break free.
  3. Visualize telling your mentors and peers how you have “fooled” them. This will help you realize how absurd your words might sound to them.
  • diversity & how it helps

Vasu talked a lot about how medical school has given him the space to meet and connect with people from diverse walks of life.

“You get to learn about other people and what they’ve gone through. This gives you a new perspective on life.” – Vasu Patel, 2023

Up until undergrad I feel like we’re all largely secluded from the world, especially if we have stayed in the same area our whole life. I have met incredible people in college and people from various different backgrounds. But, I think I’m still very much engulfed in the same bubble that I’ve grown up in.

I think undergrad is the stepping stone for beginning to see the world through a different lens by interacting and befriending people from different backgrounds. The next step is adulthood, which is when most of us will be in graduate school, medical school, jobs, or dive into other experiences. It’s during these moments, I feel, we’ll meet extraordinary people who will continue to change our world’s perception and make us become more inclusive beings.

  • upperclassmen vs underclassmen

The #1 thing that Vasu taught me is to just be kind and create friendships with everyone.

“I like making new friends and it doesn’t matter what year they’re from.” – Vasu Patel, 2023

There’s often this power dynamic in college where upperclassmen can tend to feel entitled and want to hold more power than the underclassmen. With Vasu, though, there was never a power dynamic. It was just a wholesome relationship where he genuinely wanted the younger people to feel at home at TCNJ.

“I try to avoid drama at all costs, but sometimes it just comes to me.” – Vasu Patel, 2023

Although that ^^^ quote does not relate to the topic, I felt the need to add it in because it has me cackling LOL.

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