Advocating for Those Who Feel Alienated from Health Care Spaces: Meet @ayeshasharma
Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.
ROSEMARY: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect?
ROSEMARY: What motivates you to take part in the community?
@ayeshasharma: Since I'm fairly new to Connect, I want to get to know the platform and its members. As I become accustomed to it, I'm motivated to discuss topics that interest me like food, exercise and mental health, but also to share information that affirms Connect as a safe space for anyone who engages with the platform. There are lots of groups that feel alienated from health care spaces due to their identity, expression or cultural background. So, on Connect and beyond, I strive to be outspoken about that: to let those people know they're not alone. I want them to know, from reading through discussions, that they have support before they even make their first posts.
ROSEMARY: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@ayeshasharma: Connect is a kind and intentional community, comprised of mentors, moderators and members who care about keeping it that way.
ROSEMARY: What groups do you participate in?
ROSEMARY: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Connect.
@ayeshasharma: Just the other day, a member posted about recognizing personal bias or prejudice. The member had a very honest ask of the community, "Someone help me get a less judgmental attitude."
I entered the discussion at a later point in order to respond to the original post. I felt our ensuing discussion was humble, intergenerational and straightforward. This brings me to another aspect of Connect that I like: It's very different from the spaces that I'm used to! I'm accustomed to chatting with 20-somethings who are deep within the social media era. I think my generation can sometimes have a judgmental attitude about itself, because it wants to create a culture that clearly doesn't accept prejudice. But the unintended consequence of that is we may alienate people who genuinely want to learn about other cultures and ways of life but don't have the language to do so.
Connect is a very intentionally and outwardly welcoming community, so there is a potential for a different type of conversation to occur here.
ROSEMARY: What surprised you the most about Connect?
@ayeshasharma: I suppose it’s that there’s so much to learn. As much as it's a community for Connecting, it's also a vast knowledge base.
ROSEMARY: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@ayeshasharma: I show myself kindness. I have various imageries I use to clear my mind in these moments of kindness —they're kinda funny. When I really need some peace, I will visualize a hand holding a whiteboard eraser, scrubbing the inside of my brain clean. That helps a lot.
Another thing I do, since I tend to get overwhelmed by anxiety, is visualize my stressors as a heavy coat. To chill out, I take off my metaphorical coat, and hang it up on a coat hanger.
These mental exercises help me recenter and find balance.
ROSEMARY: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@ayeshasharma: Lately, I've been weightlifting 3 to 4 times per week, which I really love. I grew up playing sports year-round, such as track, basketball and volleyball, so I still enjoy the challenge to increase my strength.
ROSEMARY: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
@ayeshasharma: Humor, genuine character and respect.
ROSEMARY: What food can you simply not resist?
@ayeshasharma: Too many. Some that I recently made are fried chicken sandwiches with homemade pickles and Japanese mayo, barbecued pulled chicken and an Indian dish called khichdi.