March 8, 2019

What had the long and arduous and roller coaster ride given me?


Beginnings are always obscure.
When I first walked into my lab, I had not a single idea how I would be able to chase my academic aspirations let alone completing my course. Whether I would emerge unbeaten or beaten, it had proven completely elusive at the time. So, it was better left at the mercy of my fate.
Besides, I saw that the task I was going to confront can’t be likened to what I had done in my course work based undergraduate program- clearing semester exams and getting promoted to next grade. As anticipated, the turn of new event was an exact carbon copy of my guesswork. Nonetheless, of all- I rejoiced madly at the feeling that I don’t have to sit and write any exams except for my final thesis defence- which the school deem as oral exam. But it came with strings attached agonizingly painful than exams- recurrent stressful progress reports and seminars after seminars without semester holidays. That was when it struck me exams were perhaps secured way of keeping heads clear of research pains. 
Meanwhile, the daredevil move of getting into neuroscience and the thought of having to come up with something novel at the end of research period almost killed me. It made me feel jittery, insignificant and diffident. Just few months into my research endeavours I started seriously asking myself- did I commit suicide or the move was too disastrous? The question of sailing smooth ride or stars convening in a clear night sky sort of philosophical thoughts were then not even remote. They didn’t just seem to exist. Even if they did, they were inconsequential because it was all about day in and day out commitment once the research kicked off. I thought the hell was breaking loose.
Peeking over the vaginal smears to detect the various stages of estrous cycle
Fast-forward the time, here I am pondering and wondering over the same obscure beginning and recalling the entire journey. So many questions pop up- some amusing and others worth keeping as well as sharing. One among them stands out notably striking for me- what had this long and arduous and roller coaster ride given?  
I can’t aptly think of any other than adaptation in my first list. I suppose this very trait is the barebones of any organisms wanting to survive anywhere else on earth. Needless to say, getting the better of acclimatising to new environment transcends everything that comes after it. This is why my flow to evolve and grow - personally and professionally- came by easily. In short, being able to adapt is the must have building blocks for achieving great feats. So, roll up the sleeves and master it by and by. Remember it isn’t easy as it sounds. Equally disastrous is failing to catch up could spell sure trouble. Making peace with it is a good way out.
Without exhibiting high level of tolerance, it is impossible to achieve excellence at work. In science, tolerance is the mother of necessity. Anything less would call for mediocrity. Of course, it also applies to others. But many may as well concur it as one of the most difficult attributes to scale. Personally, this trait had played central role in completing my research work. Because I was rookie in the field, I had to receive tutelage from almost all the members in lab- PhD, undergraduate and graduate students. In honing this craft, it helped me ward off tantrums, acquire resistance to temperaments and backstabbing. Were it not for my high tolerance, I am afraid it could have strained my relationship with others. Therefore, keep calm and cultivate tolerance if you don’t want to settle for average.
I know this one here could be cliché but let me put up in another way- sharpen the thing called grit and be efficient. After all, the impeccable pairing of two can possibly move even the mountains. Persevere consistently and beaver away on whatever makes you move out of comfort zone. Remember the signature trait that distinguishes iconic performer from average is the grit and knowing where to hit hardest when it needs the most. In my attempt to polish my academic competencies, I have had major setbacks and downfalls. I can’t keep track of times I was buffeted with embarrassments and frustrations. On and off, it came with the cost of ‘who-cares’ and ‘need-only-certificate’ attitude. Yet, I tussled with my warrior grit and came out strong every time I fell apart. Eventually, I had a comeback that took me a long way ahead. Above all, grit is indispensable- go get it.
Develop team work and submit gracefully regardless of right or wrong. I know this quality is hard to come by because given the druthers, everyone would like to flaunt. Particularly in a setting where teamwork is the key, flaunting can be an eyesore. And the worst trying to be one-man army with know-it-all mindset. Worst because it can ruin the good bonds. If not, strength and enthusiasm of the team could go untapped. Here, it is not just about the academic thing. I had several other obligations apart. Nonetheless, whenever my service was required, I sprang forward without shirking as it was my job to fulfil it. It had me gain trust from others and in that, I grew from strength to strength. I learned to be honest in my failures and submissive in my triumphs while sharpening the craftsmanship of team work and uprightness.
On the more, there are lots of sure-fire recipes out there which I precluded for the fear of long and tedious read. Further, I have deliberately attempted not to share about my academic highs and lows or for that matter the tales of burning midnight lamps, because I believe(d) academic success would follow suit if challenges outside and inside are coped up well.  For the reasons that I somehow fared fair in my effort, my substance here revolves mainly around the aforesaid mantras. To put it in other way- emotional intelligence pays higher than intellectual quotient.
YES, the journey was brutally gruelling up until the very last day. But I am pleased my little boat has braved through many storms and reached the port safely. It was painful in the beginning, messy somewhere in between and sweet at the end. I have come to grips with the fact that a bit of painful start, messy transitional phase and sweet finish was everything it took to awaken the little scientist in me.

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