Marking the end of a, all taken into account, pretty good year
December 29th 2013, the last Sunday of this year, I got my piercing #6.
Other than the first two (the regular ones), that I got at 14 as a regular teenager, the following ones all have some sort of special meaning.
Mostly hard times, when punching a hole in my ear seemed like some sort of relief. (Hard times that, in retrospect, weren’t that terrible. But you know me, nothing if not dramatic)
Not even worth a Kardashian marriage
I still love every one of them and haven’t regretted them, which is why I felt comfortable, and ready to get another one. (That I’ve told mom would be my last, but so did I for the past one…)
But this isn’t related to a heartbreaking event or anything.
This is to commemorate a year that meant something special to me, in various aspects. So, before moving on to 2014, and all the new year’s resolutions that come with it, I think it is time to reflect on all that I’m thankful for.
Academically, it’s been a pretty good year, actually. There were months in the middle, when I felt like doing absolutely nothing, when I showed up in lab at 11 to go home at 6pm and when my productivity reached the absolute lowest in my career (라고 부르기 민망하지만….) , but I still managed to
1- coauthor a paper and get that published
2- wrap up a collaboration that was handed over to me, and get a 2nd authorship on it (whenever it gets published…)
3- be included in an invited review and learn to play around with making figures.
4- Go on that field trip that was long long overdue, and bring back something from it.
For this, I am thankful. I’m thankful for this lab. I haven’t been in such a supportive environment before. There’s always been some sort of pettiness or other that created rifts and decreased the level of excitement that comes with scientific progress.
I’m thankful that there is always somebody to listen to my sometimes warranted, sometimes irrational frustration. Somebody who would just give me a hug, no questions asked, but also somebody who would ask the right questions at the right moments and say just the right things that only one in a similar position would know how to.
I’m thankful for all that I have learned this year.
One perk of publishing early is that you have some assurance that you will graduate in a timely matter. But the ‘hey, you can graduate now!’ jokes that followed the initial acceptance of my paper always made me a little uncomfortable because I felt like I hadn’t learned anything.
I’m not saying I’m ready to graduate now. Far from it. But I feel like I’ve learned so much more this one year than I have the other 5 years I’ve worked in a lab, combined.
I’m less afraid of starting a new assay. I’m more used to thinking in terms of papers. This means that I (theoretically at least…) can avoid wasting time, plan better, and hold an argument when discussion with the boss.
I’m surrounded by a group of such smart people. Every day, I’m grateful that I’m part of this lab, and this year, more so than before.
Which leads to my boss. He’s exasperating, aggravating, childish and stubborn. He’s unorganized, greedy, annoying and cheap.
But he still manages to be a good boss. Or at least, I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from the positive aspects he has as a boss.
He has so far been supportive of my work. Understanding of my vacations (I am definitely using more than my allotted 15 days of vacation). Overlooked my mental breakdown and didn’t make things weird. Remains approachable. Despite loving and creating useless meetings, he makes it up with one very inspirational and productive one once in a while. And at the end of the day, he’s the one who managed to maintain such a nice group.
No grad student graduates without having had at least one semester of strained relationship with the boss. And man, does he make it difficult to maintain a good relationship sometimes. But it could be so much worse.
The many grad school acceptances around me.
I’ve been invested, in one way or another, in the path of three people in their endeavor in joining me in hell, otherwise known as grad school.
I complain about it, but I know how much you want it when you’re applying for it.
And, again, I’d like to believe I deserve to be here, but my stars lined up way too perfectly when I was applying. It shouldn’t have been that easy for me.
So for two years, I suffered alongside these three people as they went though so much, and ultimately also through painful realization that they have to go through it again.
I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending, because that is the last thing I’m trying to convey here. But I felt like that what meant to be encouraging words had somehow given them false hope, and it was my fault that some of them didn’t approach this in the right set of mind. I felt like there was a limited amount of good luck and happiness allowed to one family, one group, and that I had taken all of it by coming here.
I can’t pretend my pain and disappointment matched theirs, but it still weighed on me.
So I’m very very thankful that all three are now in different parts of the States, studying what they’ve wanted to study for so long. They deserve all of it, and I hope they get the most out of it.
Circumstances that led my sister to Boston
I believe things happen for a reason. I got one more confirmation this year when my sister moved to Boston. I am very thankful that the series of circumstances, as convoluted as they were, ended up leading her here. So much to do together, so reassuring to know that she’s in the same city.
Being comfortable being on my own
But having her away for three years, and then having her here now, also made me realize that I’ve finally become my own person. I no longer seek the parental or sibling approval. I am quite ok being on my own, and maybe have changed more than I had realized. And I’m completely ok with that.
Good friends, fun trips, and Mandatory fun.
Friends keep you sane and grounded when you’re on your own. They take you out for drinks, they bring you ice cream when you’re down, they have hours-long conversations with you over a single beer, even when they are miles away. I honestly don’t know how I could have survived parts of 2013 if it hadn’t been for them. So thank you, every one of you.
We’ve all become so busy over the years, that it’s hard to hang out as often as we used to in our first years. More often than not, it’s easy to just drift apart, go from besties, to good friends, to just acquaintances. And yet, we still find ways to hang out, even making it a mandatory activity. All relationships require effort, and I’m thankful that this group of friends do make the effort, go that extra mile, 4 years later.
The emotional roller coasters
Honestly, I haven’t had so many different emotions and more importantly daily emotionally changes since… maybe senior year of college. As with anything that lasts (too) long, I had gotten used to a pretty stagnant state of mind. I was ok being single. I kept with my version of stories of how I had never been in love, and as a very independent person, was totally ok being on my own, and that relationships were really more of a waste of time that I couldn’t afford right now, etc. etc. But the months of hoping, agonizing, falling in and out of love and in again awakened a part of me I thought was gone/never existed/I was better off without.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t gone through a big chunk of this year. I could have done without it, I probably would have been more productive, eaten fewer pints of ice cream, written less pages of dramatic over-thoughts and reenactments of passing moments.
Still, it kind of rekindled a… kinder side of me, if I may say so myself. I’ve become more tolerant, more accepting of personal flaws and quirks, mine and others’. I’ve become less (professional) goal oriented.
I’m still ok with being single. I actually like it more than before for some reason.
But these roller coasters came at a good time. And ended without a crash. And I’m thankful for that, and I’m thankful for all the people who took me on those rides.
… and I don’t even think real ones are that fun ….
The people who have helped me open up
Last but not least. You know who you are. Circumstantially, we are probably not going to be as close as we have been this past year. And we weren’t that close the previous year either. So I’m thankful that the two people , who know me better than anyone by now, have been here, at the right moment, at the right time.
Gawd this post is making my skin crawl a little bit. It’s too touchy-feely, it’s too… ‘american’,as my sister and I like to say it. (Asians don’t share emotions….except anger… you should see drunk ajeossis fight) . But giving thanks when and where they are due.
You weren’t so bad.