You are good enough: A note to self

Dear me,

I know the past week has been as eventful as it could be. It was the most eventful week of your life, at least since the day you decided to pursue Science. Congratulations on achieving the fellowship and being in the top 2%. I’m really proud of you.
However, an anxiety has been gripping you ever since the result came out. You think you got it because of sheer dumb luck. Let me ask you, was it really just luck? Was sitting in that examination hall year after year your decision or fate? Wasn’t everyone telling you you made the difficult (aka wrong) choice? Who was the one figuring out color charges of quarks when she could have pondered about what colors suited her best for the date outfit? Yet you proceeded because you knew your heart. You knew you wanted it bad enough.

You had doubts. You knew it’d be difficult. You went for the interviews and blew it. Not once, not twice, but thrice, in a row. It was you who knew nada about Simpson’s rule but tried to integrate one upon x to the power n-1 anyway, in front of 5 scientists. Weren’t those 5 people laughing? A nobody trying to ‘do’ maths a new way, in front of 5 experts of the field. It was embarrassing beyond measure. Yet, at the end of the interview they asked you to keep working. They asked you to study some more and come back. They never said you can’t do it or that you don’t have the talent.

If the worst review you ever got was  ‘come back after more preparation’ (by the absolute best people of the field, mind you), you must have something. If they can believe in you, why can’t you believe yourself?

I know it all started after that response you got from a former acquaintance. He was the first one to literally say that you made the wrong decision and should have known better. Tell me, does he actually know you that well? He wouldn’t recognize your face if you were to appear in front of him, because you simply interacted a long time ago, very formally. He is judging from that impression of you, or rather a general impression of all the students he has met of your batch. None of your colleagues have sought this path. Clearly it is not a popular choice. He doesn’t know your journey or your expertise. He wasn’t talking personally about you, rather from a general perspective.

But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong entirely. He wants to convey that it would be difficult for you, thats all. He wishes the best for you. He thinks you would be better off in a career which is safe and familiar because that is what he views as the criterion for choosing a career. You, on the other hand, view things differently. You make choices based on your gut feeling.

Don’t get me wrong, I know you do your job diligently, day in and day out. You got the fellowship without any formal education, didn’t you? You really know your subject and you are sincere. But you know it isn’t exactly the lucrative or secure path. You are blessed in the way that you need not worry about financial matters as much as others. You can take risks. At least for now. But you can’t take the risk of regretting at the age of 80 that you could have been a scientist. You dread that the most. Hence you chose this way.

Even if it all goes to nothing, you will have the satisfaction of trying your best and learning laws of the universe along the way. Isn’t that all we need? To be consumed by a desire so great that even a great blow feels like a mosquito bite? To go to the bed with contentment and to rise with passion? This is what life is about.

Don’t get disheartened my love. There are no wrong paths. Every path is difficult. However, the kind of difficulty is different and felt differently by each individual. The path you chose resembles a little out of tune at the moment, but you’ll find your music. You have what it takes to get in tune with it, it would demand a bit more effort on your part, thats all.

Go forth with that resonates with your heart, because having your heart on your side will make you conquer everything.

Love
~Sn.

In the praise of writing things down

In the praise of writing things down

I’ve been a big fan of planning but I was not good at executing. I’ve created countless study timetables that I didn’t stuck to, and failed to check off everything on my to do list most of the times. However, during all these years of studying and keeping track of everything has taught me that planning is an essential step, even if you end up not executing the plan completely.

If you write it down, you are more than likely to start

Let me explain. Suppose you want to study a chapter from textbook that sounds really dull(and hard). You don’t feel like it. If you’re given all control and no deadline, you are more than likely to put it off completely. Now imagine this, before going to bed(or earlier in the day) you write on a piece of paper or your journal that you will study that chapter. It creates a mental note of having the desire to complete that task. You may actually pick up the book just to look at what this chapter is actually about, not with the intention of studying but just to get an idea of what this task of studying may involve(out of curiosity). Maybe you’ll put it down after a glance but you are more likely to continue reading it even if you don’t feel like it and before you know you’ve completed the first section(or more). The act of having a written note to yourself gives you a slight push and creates a mental pressure that you should be doing it.

Guilt can be Healthy

That pressure for me goes away after a while but while it lasts, it causes me to do at least something related to the task that I’ve been meaning to do. For example, I would love to exercise everyday, in theory. Practically I almost never do. But when I write it down in my bullet journal a day before, the next morning the first thing I’m thinking is that I need to exercise. Even if I don’t exercise, I do take a walk or stretch a little, just in order to get rid of the guilt. Guilt is not healthy, but it can push you to do things you should be doing. I sometimes end up helping my mum do housework and that is exhausting and boring but that gives me a sense of doing something, something that might count as a light exercise. Sometimes, it is more than a light exercise because I end up doing all the cleaning, certainly more than I first intended but I am happy at the end because it does count as a workout in my mind.

Your Mindset will change

The mere act of writing things to do or things I need to deal with creates a chain reaction and nudges me to get started. Once you get started, you can gain momentum and finish the task or make some progress at the very least. Therefore, I always make a to do list before bed/ before a trip/ before school even if I know I may not do it because I know that I might actually get started. When I review at night, it surprises me how much I actually get done! Sometimes I end up finishing everything on the list or even more, without realizing it. But if I had not written it down, I might as well have forgotten it all. I have realized that writing things down has an effect on your mindset for the day.

Once you get started, you have finite chance of finishing the task. But if you don’t get started, you won’t finish the task, 100% of the time.

Write things you are putting off, things that you need to deal with, even if you don’t think you will.

Love
~Sn

A bunch of peas and the scary future

We have a kitchen garden at home. We grow seasonal vegetables such as peas, tomatoes, lettuce etc. My mother asked me this morning to go get some peas as they’re about to go bad. I moved, reluctantly (I didn’t want to stop reading what my friends did last night on facebook). Anyway, I went there and started plucking. There were a mix of crops. Some of them were already withered while others were quite young. Some pods didn’t even have peas. I paused for a second; should I leave the ones that are still young and take only ripe ones? Then again,  Who cares? She did say they were all going to wither soon, I might as well collect them all. I did.

She was furious. She said I didn’t have the common sense to leave the young ones, how could I be so careless? I was surprised. But you said they’re gonna wither in a few days. What was I supposed to do? You can guess what happened next. She stopped talking to me for an hour.

At first I thought I was just doing what I was told. It wasn’t my fault that she didn’t clarify which ones to pluck. I tried to justify this thought. I tend to overthink (apparently not about plucking lol) and I went through the whole series of I am right. This is just the way I am to I don’t deserve anything in life, I don’t know anything and I’m gonna die alone.

This pattern of thinking has been repeating in my life lately. I decided to go deep in that. Why is it so? Why do I feel worthless? I thought it is because I don’t have a job (I study and create online content but that doesn’t count right?). Okay but I know I chose this life. I knew I won’t earn money for a while. I do enjoy my work and my folks are good people. Then what is the problem?

The Perspective

The problem is, I think I am worthless. It is not that anybody says it, but I have created this aura around myself that I don’t know anything and I can’t learn. I stop trying early because I think it wouldn’t work out anyway. Why I think this way? Because I’m afraid of the future. Yep, that’s it. When I think about where I would be in 3 years, 5 years or even a year from now, I don’t see anything. SCARY. 

It is scary because I don’t know where I will be or what I’ll be doing in the future. I am uncertain. It is reasonable to think you are not going anywhere if you really aren’t. However, it is not like anyone knows. Nobody can be certain of where they’ll be a year or more from now. We cannot control the future. At the most we have an idea of where we want to be.

For me, it is a bit more uncertain since I don’t have a concrete idea of where I want to be. I have some ideas, but not a clear picture. Since I don’t have major responsibilities, I have more free space in that future. I can fill it up with whatever I want, but I have to take full responsibility for it. I have a blank slate and I get to write what I want but if it goes wrong I can’t blame anybody. But I can take responsibility, at least for myself. I CAN do that. I can decide who I want to be. I’m scared because I have not tried.

It was not an epiphany per se but a change of perspective. All I have to do is get more experience. If I had plucked vegetables before, I wouldn’t have done the mistake. It is true that I don’t know much, but I can learn.

Learning requires association with previous knowledge. Previous knowledge requires experience.

Experience comes when you do things. And we can always do things. It doesn’t matter if we fail, we get experience nonetheless. The key is to get off your ass and start moving in the direction of your goals. You never regret action. You regret inaction. So that is what I’m going to do. I’m going to pluck different vegetables every once in awhile. The worst I’ll get is my mum’s scolding. Not a bad deal. I’m going to try.

As I am writing my post, my mother is mumbling to herself about something. She seems to have calmed down. She is calling me to help her with carrots. Okay bye.

Love
~Sn

p.s. Look what she did. She cut off young pods and added them to the stir fry. I chopped the carrots. Looks delicious right!

If she can make it work with a bunch of peas, I can certainly work with myself. 

Life is in movement

Life is in movement

 

An important characteristic of life is movement. Movement is necessary for growth. Likewise, if we wish to become a better person, we have to let go of who we currently are. Our personalities are not set in stone. We can change. We can adapt. What we experience in life are responsible for a large part on who we are. But as someone said, it is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you react to it. We ALWAYS have the choice. I am not exactly the person I was when I started this blog. Nor will I be the same a year from now. We are living beings, we acquire traits and habits. Like any living thing, we change every moment. Embrace the change, and let yourself be in this moment. It is the flow that makes us alive.

It all starts here: dreams and goals

It all starts here: dreams and goals

 

Whatever Happens, will happen; and we shall deal with it when it does.

I have always felt joy in the idea of dreams. I believe that we all have our calling(s) in life; something we really, really want to do. Some of us get to make a career out of it while others settle with a hobby. Of course, many of us don’t understand what their “calling” is and if it is but an illusion. No matter what your stand on this is, I think you would agree that we all feel different levels of enthusiasm depending on the task at hand. I call it your calling for which you feel most enthusiastic.

My Story

I chose to become an engineer because they get jobs easily. Later, I decided to go into basic sciences and study for a doctorate (It hasn’t happened yet). The first time I tried my hand at sciences was two years ago, right after completing my degree. It didn’t go well. I was heartbroken, felt stupid. Still I wanted to carry on. I analyzed the situation, found flaws in my approach, felt better. I realized I needed to work on some topics and get my problem-solving skills up.

I worked on it for a year, got selected for interviews. It was finally working out. I was sitting with the graduate students and felt a sense of belonging there. All was good in the world, and dreams were coming true. Except that I couldn’t make it through the interview. My mind went blank. Answers were lost on me. Again, I felt stupid. I felt like I made a major mistake. I should have prepared well. I should have studied well. I didn’t deserve to be there, sitting among the candidates who devoted more than 5 years of their life, while I did only one.

I came back, working harder still. I revised my basics, and focussed only on the interviews and exams. I forgot why I was doing all this. The enthusiasm was all gone, all I had was the thought that I can’t let all my preparations go in vain. I need to make it this time. People started questioning my choices and suggesting alternate routes. I felt like I needed to “prove” myself to them. I needed to study but I couldn’t. I felt like I’ve failed.

I decided to give it up. I decided to let myself breathe and think about it. I discussed everything with my folks and they were a little disappointed that I was giving up (I have been living with them since graduation so they know all I have been through), but they agreed that I needed a change. So, I gave up on science for a week and joined a class on a diploma course in finance. It was only math so I was quite comfortable. I knew that if I want to, I can succeed there. I knew it was in my capacity to make a reasonably good career out of it.

Only two days in however, I felt miserable. I was getting anxious because I was doing too well for my standards. It just didn’t feel right. It felt worse than struggling with a mechanics problem. I missed science. I couldn’t stay away from science any more. You know when you break up with someone because they have commitment issues? That’s how it felt like. I wanted to stay with science even if it didn’t turn into a career.

I dug deep and asked myself, what was the part I was missing? Did I miss the difficult problems? The math of complex integration?The agony of finding a calculation mistake after you have struggled an hour? Certainly not. Because I was solving challenging problems in finance also, and making the same stupid calculation mistakes. No, I was missing the sense of mystery. I missed the serenity you get when you finally understand that the basic laws of the universe are quite simple. I missed the joy of questioning everything and rejoicing when you finally get it.

I realized why I gave up on science. It wasn’t the frustration of exams or anxiety of interviews, but rather the lack of wonder. I had lost touch with “Science” per se, and was devoting all my time to fitting values into formulae. I had stopped dreaming and started working. It was two years since I last saw a sci-fi movie or a documentary on the life cycle of stars, the things that first brought me to science.

I realize now that all the paths in life are alike in the sense that they all have obstacles and highways. No matter what you chose to do, you’ll face a unique set of problems and have certain advantages over others. No path is easy or difficult. It depends on the person. It makes sense to do things you find joy in. I know success gurus emphasise on hard work and remind you that every path has struggles. But every path has beautiful things as well, and those are the things that keep you going.

The biggest mistake was, I had gave up on dreaming and was working for the gratification of having my shit together. I realized since that nobody has all their shit together. 

Allow yourself to enjoy your dreams, while you are working on making them a reality.

Because if you don’t, you will forget why you started and every path would look the same. Life sucks when that happens.