Friday, June 26, 2009


Last week I had another medical student shadowing me. Yes, it’s scary, actually having seniority on someone. We finished doing a morning exam on a patient and left the room, and she said “So you’re the funny doctor.”

Which was itself a funny thing to say, because I know for a fact that my surgery team does not think I’m funny.

Excluding times when I’m putting on a performance, I don’t really try to be funny. It either happens or it doesn’t. Some of that depends on my mood, but more important is who I’m with. That patient we’d seen permitted me to be funny. I’d have a hard time saying what allows me to be funny, but I’m sure attitude, personality, intelligence and social situation all play a role.

Some people think I’m boring. Maybe half the people I meet, maybe most of the people I know. And it’s funny to me that I can be so different, simply depending on who’s around. I like Funny Chris better than Silent Chris (because I think I pretty well bounce between funny and silent, with little time spent in between,) though I must admit that Silent Chris doesn’t really bother me. He’s not unhappy, just not particularly entertaining.

My team only knows Silent Chris. I have found that Funny Chris and surgeons don’t get along particularly well, so this has been somewhat intentional. I’ve also found that when placed in a hierarchy, where I must report to superiors, Silent Chris predominates. One of the factors that allows me to joke around is the presence of equals. I enjoy playing with commonality. It’s much easier to be funny with peers than to try to be funny uphill to those looking down on you. Which is itself unfortunate, since it would be behoove me to ingratiate myself with superiors by amusing them. But since so much of what I find funny involves joking mockery, this jives poorly with authority.

But I suppose the two sides aren’t mutually exclusive. Even among friends, doing something fun, Silent Chris sometimes happens. I will become dull all of a sudden. I think in these situations I should be better about making an effort to be engaging. And the people who have always relied upon me to be dull will occasionally be surprised by an unintentional spark of personality. Even in situations I normally found stifling, with people I usually find to be unengaging, I’ll sometimes find a spark. And if it goes well I think that can lead to a gradual transition. And I’m pretty happy with that. I’m pretty happy being someone that you don’t get at first; an acquired taste.

I’m very much about having an internal locus of control. I try not to let people’s perceptions of me dictate my behavior or feelings of self worth. But I think people’s perceptions are very interesting. We all have people that like us, and people that dislike us, and a great many people who are neutral. It’s interesting to analyze what differences there are between them. The bigger factor is obviously the other person and where they’re coming from, but you may find that you’re simply acting like a different person. And how can people help but react differently to you if you’re acting differently. I wonder if Funny Chris and Silent Chris would even get along.


Amy-Alisa said...

Did that make you feel pressure to be funny the rest of the day?

Anonymous said...

Much more open and vulnerable like the old days. I like it.