When life gives you lemons

I enrolled in grad school a year ago and was all set to spend the next 5 years drowning myself in research when my supervisor decided to tell me she’ll retire. It came less like a shock and more like a quake. I didn’t know what to do.

I started (over-)thinking, whether she’ll postpone her retirement and join another institute or whether I’ll have to change my supervisor and field. Why she agreed to guide me in the first place? Why did I not think of this before joining? Why should I choose between an institute and a subject?

All of this wondering illuminated one truth: everything is temporary, you never know what will happen. I still don’t know how things will turn out, but I’ve made my peace with change.

A change often takes you by surprise and there is little you can do about it. Life just happens and you deal with it.

As I reflect back on a year old me, I laugh at how little she knew about her future. All she knew was that she loved science and that’s all she cared about. It didn’t matter to her where she gets to study, whether she’ll have friends or whether she’ll be able to order pasta at 1 a.m. I am jealous of that girl. She was prepared to plunge into the unknown because she knew she’ll be doing what she loves to do: Research. The current me, on the other hand, is freaking out because she won’t be able to order falafel roll and beer.

To heck with the beer, I don’t even like the taste. I have realized how accustomed I have become to this city and its malls. My dustbin is overflowing with takeaway containers and price tags. I have spent almost a year’s worth of savings and I am ashamed to say that I have 4 “cute” notebooks none of which contain a single drop of ink. I bought them just because they will motivate me to study.

Through all of this, one thing that I miss the most is my passion for science. Don’t get me wrong, it is still there, but I don’t act on it anymore. Even less so after receiving the news. I have been panicking and doing all kinds of ridiculous things to make myself better and silently praying that I don’t have to go. I haven’t read a single paper since. I haven’t done the one thing that could actually help, my work.

When life presents you with situations like mine, the best thing you can do is to do what you love and be great at it. Your work is the only thing you have control over and it is what matters most. So that is what I am gonna do. I am going to write that report on higher order spectra, starting with a literature survey.

It is okay to panic and cry loudly in the street but when the storm passes, make sure you go back and do your job.

Go back to why you are here, doing what you do. Go back to the love and the enthusiasm. If all else fails, at least you’d be content that you enjoyed your work and put your best effort in. Rest is just chaos.

Love,
-Sn

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