Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Are We All Impostors?


Is it just me?
Or does it seem
that my pride
will not let me be
vulnerable
in front of
you.

You must not see
how it takes me
days
to understand the same
concepts
that take you
hours.

That my own insecurities
are hidden behind a
facade of smiles,
a demeanor of confidence.
The first part of act one,
but you are
my only audience.
My grand performance ensues.

Usually I am an open book,
words spewing off
crowded pages.
But around you,
my book is cast shut,
locked away, no title.
Hidden in the back of my mind,
as laughs and easy conversation
deceive you.

I don’t want you to see
my weaknesses,
so they stay hidden,
like wounds concealed
beneath faint scars,
only noticeable
if you look closely.

Why do I hear
“You are not the only one,”
yet I am performing in a
one-man show.
Surrounded by actors
but an empty stage.
Everyone is honest,
although, no one truly is.

My struggle is a weakness
that marks me with a
Scarlet Letter,
so that I am no longer
your equal.
I am tainted, contaminated,
like I am generic but you are
the trade name that only
the best can afford.

So I continue to shield myself
behind my armor of
forced smiles and
easy conversation,
in the castle of
my mind
and the fortress of
my body,
that can crumble only if the
cracks are seen, until the day
these walls are no longer needed —
a day that may never come.


Poetry Thursdays is a weekly newsletter that highlights poems by medical students and physicians. This initiative is led by Slavena Salve Nissan at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Slavena.


Alayna Sterchele Alayna Sterchele (2 Posts)

Writer-in-Training

University of Central Florida College of Medicine


Alayna is a first year medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, Florida. She also has a Molecular Biology and Microbiology degree from the University of Central Florida and is a proud Orlando native who knows that Orlando is much more than just theme parks and tourists. Her medical interests include community health, global health, and bioethics. When not studying, she enjoys reading fiction novels, rollerblading at local parks, and planning her next travel adventure.