mostly benign

sometime ago, when i was musing over how i usually take whatever comes along without complaint, the word “benign” popped into my mind. as a medical student, naturally my train of thought led towards tumours and how some are malignant while others are benign. how the benign ones are harmless and simply suck up one’s blood supply, but are “just there” and won’t invade into surrounding tissues.

and a most horrifying thought came to my mind: “oh goodness gracious, i’m benign.

my friends would know that one of my greatest fears is to be mediocre-ly above average. that means being pretty good, but not very good. get my drift? so the last thing i wanna be is benign – in existence, sometimes noticed, but not really acknowledged because i may take up some space, but i’m not outstanding enough to receive attention.

however, when i looked up (a non-online dictionary? what’s that?) for a definition of benign, this was what i got:

be·nign /bɪˈnaɪn/
1.having a kindly disposition; gracious: a benign king.
2.showing or expressive of gentleness or kindness: a benign smile.
3.favorable; propitious: a series of benign omens and configurations in the heavens.
4.(of weather) salubrious; healthful; pleasant or beneficial.
5.Pathology. not malignant; self-limiting.

so. being benign means being kind, gracious, gentle, favourable and pleasant? ooooook. doesn’t sound too bad anymore, does it?

however, it still scares me that i am heading towards a path of mediocrity. academic success doesn’t mean i will be a particularly useful person in the future, or that i really will grow up and rise above the challenges life has to offer. my inability to discuss current issues and my “jack of all trades, master of none” take on things means that i’m never really good at one thing. while that makes me interesting, it doesn’t make me…memorable.

perhaps the definition of “benign” i should pay more attention to is the last one; the pathological explanation of the word – self-limiting. i know it doesn’t mean self-limiting in the sense of the word, but it does give one something to think about all the same.

sometimes i think it’s much better to be malignant and remembered than be benign and fade into the background.


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