“Shield” by Samantha Yee

Samantha Yee is a Year 2A medical student and contributed this moving piece, which was featured in The Auricle’s May-June Edition.

I’ve always thought honesty my shield – that if I have nothing to hide, then there is nothing they can use to hurt me… I know my truth. I stand proud on the challenges I have faced and conquered and revel in the triumphs in my life. Though I am simply traversing the plains of life, equally uncertain and unknowing of the path that lies ahead, my experience might be one others may vicariously extract wisdom from, and I too through theirs.

This is not to say I am to shout out to the world my savings, my social security number: my identity but have I inevitably through the life story I have so willingly shared upon a single question, shared upon curiosity, given up my individuality?

My grandma says getting to know a person is analogous to a flower blooming on a spring day. Its beauty so ephemeral that a rush to bloom will simply hasten the wither. We are but simple creatures: beauty enraptures us, reflections and refractions of light captures our gaze and threatens to never let go – but only for as long as it exists. In our desire to be acknowledged, we forget the evanescence of it all, only questioning thereafter where it all went wrong and how we are left with nothing except the remnants of another’s fleeting attention.

Where do we draw the line between honesty and deceit; self-preservation and cunningness? Why must answers that are given be half-truths? Why should we omit our story for fear that it might be turned upon us and taken advantage of? Why do others seize upon vulnerability and raw emotions and experiences only to mould them into weapons of destruction of the worst kind – the self? Am I to fear that one day, a misplaced trust in another might shatter my shield, leave me defenceless and alone against the prowling wolves of life?

They say I will learn – like a wide-eyed puppy freshly birthed from a mother’s womb, a blank canvas – my elders will be my guide and I shall soon soak up their wisdom to navigate life. But what a paradox that is… because amongst
all the lessons they imparted upon me, they say veiled honesty should also extend to those near and dear – that no one should know me better than myself; that there are secrets of the self that I should take to the grave. What a lonely journey that will be… To be unable to place unconditional trust in the physical is to place unconditional trust in the intangible – life’s most venerated but at times, most unforgiving guide: mistakes.

At this point in time, I am fortunate to still be in the warm embrace of mother life. She is tender and nurturing. Alas, this too is ephemeral. Mistakes of today are tolerated but less certain is this patience for the mistakes of tomorrow and of a few years to come. As we begin to lift from her embrace and onto her shoulders, a fall from this height can be devastating. The gift of recovery is limited and she may only extend it to a privileged select few who she has ascertained has the means to rebound and prosper… I may not be one of them and the ripples of my fall may indirectly hurt those still in her tender embrace.

I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but truth be told, I am fearful. I am questioning the integrity of my shield that took 20 years of life to forge and how difficult it may be to reinforce it and imbue it with newfound mystery. I only ask for the strength and dexterity of an experienced blacksmith to craft my shield to accompany me to the end of this plain.

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