Humans of Mac Med: Jhanahan Sriranjan

Interviewed by Claire Lee, c2022

Describe yourself in one sentence:

Someone who is always all in.

If I commit to something, I make sure I am fully committed to it. And I try to apply this to everything in life– from hobbies, to fitness, my own health, and all the organizations I am a part of. I make sure there is passion in everything I do, and so I don’t sign up for things I don’t care about. When it comes to fitness for example, I never miss days if I can avoid it, and if I do miss days I make sure I make up for it in the subsequent days. When it comes to extra-curricular activities, it’s a little tougher because sometimes I want to try things that I may not necessarily be great at. In these cases, I make sure I put in the effort to make sure I am performing at the level I want to perform at. A lot of people undervalue effort, and how much you can achieve just by practicing and trying.

What is one experience that you’ve had that you feel others could learn from?

I had a very important mentor in my life. He was a family friend of mine and an engineering professor at the University of Toronto. He was mind-blowingly intelligent but always stayed humble about it. He was also incredibly committed to teaching and sharing knowledge. He would rent out a small room to teach students robotics and engineering, charging only enough to cover the cost of rent, when he could be making thousands of dollars at his university during that time. He held these classes for 12 hours on Saturday on top of all the work he had during the weekdays. He even branched out into non-engineering topics such as English, French, history…etc.

I remember in grade 7 I was learning mitosis from him, and he challenged me to teach the concept to the younger students. I replied with, “how would I teach this to them, they won’t understand the concept”, and he told me to “make them understand it”. My mentor really helped me understand that knowledge is something to be shared, and the best way to test your own knowledge is to teach others. I think the take-away message is applicable to not just my peers but really to anyone who wants to learn, and it is that you can only know you understand something if you can take your knowledge and explain it to someone else. This is especially applicable to McMaster students and healthcare workers, as this is what PBL is based on, and this should be how we communicate with patients and other colleagues.

What is one thing you would like to keep constant about yourself, and one thing you want to change about yourself as you progress through medicine?

Hm, I think the things I want to keep constant, as well as change about myself, would be my health. I’m sort of a “go go go” person, which is great when we are young, fit, and healthy, but eventually, my body is going to slow down and I’m going to learn to have to listen to it.

Coming to medical school, I was at a very clear and stable place mentally. I had just made it through undergrad which was an extremely trying time for me. So coming into med, I made sure that I was committed to taking my mental health seriously, not stressing out too much, and finding time for the people and things I love.

Yah so I want to keep my mental health and happiness constant throughout medicine, but also learn to take better care of my physical health as well and not just use my body as a tool.

What is your current phone background?

Ooh I like this question. So I have two.

My lockscreen is a picture of Hanu and me at the charity ball. The original plan was for seven of us to dress up in matching outfits and take a photo together. But through a series of unfortunate events, it ended up being just me and Hanu that made it out in the outfits. I knew Hanu since undergrad from the science rep team, but we weren’t too close after that. When we came to med is when our friendship really took off. It’s so funny how our entire friendship feels like a fever dream. It’s been really nice because I didn’t have a lot of male interactions growing up – I had a sister and mostly female cousins, so it almost feels like I have a brother. This picture was captured when we just looked at each other at the formal and just thought “what are we even doing here”.

My actual phone background is the Ghost stories album cover from Coldplay. Coldplay is my favourite band– I’ve been listening to them since I was a little kid. They’re basically what the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were to the generation before. This album is special because this was released around the time Chris Martin, the main singer, was going through his divorce. So it’s a very emotional album, and I could feel a lot of the pain that was being conveyed as 2014  was also a pretty rough year for me. As soon as this album came out, I’d play this song every time I would ride the bus. The songs became a constant fixture, and the angel wings on the cover are like instrumental conditioning for me– as soon as I see them I feel happy.

I would say my two backgrounds are very representative of me.

Let’s say that you have unlimited resources and an unlimited amount of money. What would your perfect day look like?

Sick. Well, it’s going to end with a concert. That’s a given, there is nothing that makes me happier than a good concert. I think I’ve been to 23 so far.

There’s a beautiful cottage I went to in Northern Ontario on Sharbot Lake that I went to a couple months ago with my girlfriend, and that was the first time I was able to wake up to a sunrise on a lake. There is something about the tranquility of a still lake that is emotionally and artistically inspiring to me. So I would want that to be how I start my day. I truly am a Disney princess.

For sure a good breakfast would be involved too. A nice, big meal with eggs, benny and chicken waffles. I would then probably want to shoot some hoops– walk across the street to the Raptors court and get some ball in.

Would you be by yourself for all this?

For the first part yes. I sort of like having my mornings to myself.

I don’t even know what I would do for the rest of my day. Probably go to a rooftop, assuming its patio season, with the guys and hang out and talk a little bit. Then go back to my house and grab my guitar to jam with my friends. I love playing with other people and sort of figuring out whose sound matches who’s the best. After that, I would hit up a concert.

Which concert?

Ah, it depends. My favourite concert ever was Coldplay’s. My second favourite was the Hozier concert I went to last year. My girlfriend got me tickets to see Hozier in Buffalo for the first show of his tour. Oh my God, that night to me was the most vivid hour and half of my life. I feel like I still remember every minute of it. He’s the reason I picked up the guitar. It’s funny because he recently tweeted about how he has bad technique when playing the guitar, and I noticed that I do the same thing just because I learned the guitar by watching him.

So yah maybe like an Osheaga style concert with a mixture of different artists like Hozier, Kygo, James Bay, Martin Garrix, and Mumford and the Sons.

You’re so tumblr from grade nine.

Haha yah I am pretty tumblr, that’s a fair description of me. That should have been my answer to the first question.

What is your go-to late-night drive song?

Okay. Hmmm, so Shrike by Hozier is my favourite song. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but there’s this concept called peak experience stemming from Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs. Peak experience is the moment when you are totally separate, it’s like you are taking a photograph of the moment and you are sensitive to everything around you. Shrike became this song for me in fourth year when I was walking home at around 3:30am in the morning, and as it started playing it started snowing. This was on Main St West, so the street was completely empty and it was just snowing. I kind of stopped in the middle of the road and looked around me, and I sort of realized how far I had come and how much I had achieved. Up till this point I had been a zombie, working crazy hours in the lab and focusing on school, and then I sort of thought to myself “holy crap I’m here. I am in fourth year with three med school interviews. I am in a great place right now”. That song became conditioned so that whenever it comes on, I stop what I am doing and reflect on myself. Even if I am driving and the song plays, I will pull over to make time for reflection. I try to re-calibrate myself. It really does keep me in a good place and keeps me calm. So yah that would be my late night drive song.

What is something you want others to know about you?

If you’re mean to me I’ll probably cry about it at home.

I’m a very emotional person, like I swear my biceps have tear ducts. So yah, if you’re mean to me I’ll probably cry about it, just not in front of you.

 

 

 

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