Sunday, January 18, 2009

"clench your troubles in your fist"

I like complaining. I freely admit it. Sometimes it just feels nice to whine about the difficulties of life especially if there is someone to commiserate with. However I am also aware of the power of influence of one person's mood on that of others. Someone who is always negative and unproductive is unpleasant to be around. It often feels like their bad mood and negativity is a black hole that sucks up all joy and motivation around it. On the other hand, positivity and productivity are just an infectious: it is easy to get inspired by someone else's positive attitude, especially if it is sincere and lacking in arrogance. Therefore I try my best to keep my sad, negative, defeatist thoughts private, especially when talking to people I care about, because I know their lives are not any easier than mine but they still try to cheer me up when they think I might be feeling down. One source of great inspiration to me is my grandfather. He is a retired engineer who worked very hard well into his seventies and always speaks of his job with enthusiasm. He is constantly saying motivating things to me and although I probably don't tell him often enough, I am very grateful.

It is no secret that I haven't been exactly happy in graduate school. I've struggled to find direction and motivation, and have not been particularly productive. However I am determined to finish my PHD partly for myself, but mostly for the people who believe in me and don't give up on me. My grandfather always has positive advise to offer me. On of my favorite things that he says, although it doesn't translate very well into English is: "Don't let your troubles get the best of you. Gather up your weakness and doubts into your fist, clench them tightly and keep moving forward." I love picturing this! It gives me an instant mood lift :)
I know that I've been spoiled in graduate school. Nobody has yelled at me or told me I'm not doing a good job. My advisors have always found something positive to say and have never been harsh. Yet, I don't think it is unreasonable to say that I have not been a very motivated graduate student. I have been to busy complaining about everything that I don't like about science to really focus on my research. It has not all been playing around though. I have learned a great deal about benchwork and developmental biology. I've also gotten to know some great people and discovered that I love teaching and editing. So overall I think I've met some goals of graduate school. Still there remains the main goal: the Dissertation and publication. I'll admit, it's a struggle. Everyday. I struggle to think positive, to endure unhappiness, to keep my troubles clenched tightly in my fist. Sometime I loosen my grip, I slow down, I start to lose focus. In these times I need only to look around: I am surrounded by people who inspire me. Smart, wonderful, hardworking people, who also have setbacks and struggle with hardships, but who keep moving forward, not losing momentum, being a shining beacon for those, like me, who start to feel lost.

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