Monday, September 26, 2011

My Fruit Cups!

Yeah, so today's blog post's title is actually an episode title from Scrubs :P Don't judge! I really couldn't help myself. I initially wanted to title it "Cake Walk", but then decided that it wasn't descriptive enough. I considered "My Cake Walk". Sounded very Scrubs-ish. I figured, if I am going to sound like scrubs, might as well go all the way! :)

Enough about the title. On to the post!

So it all started with a conversation I was having this evening with CKR. We were talking about how things have been these past few months for her and for me. She recently shifted labs (no small feat!) and I know its been a rough time for her. But she has finally found a Ph.D home where she feels happy! :D Here's to some amazing doctoral research for her! :D

Anyhoo, it occurred to us during our conversation that for all the bitching that we do, we rarely realize how much the struggles and trials of our life, that are seemingly insurmountable, make life a lot sweeter. I mean, if everything was handed to us on a silver platter, would we value all the things that we have with us?

It got me thinking about my own struggles and the fruit of my efforts (hence the title!). Its not exactly been a cake walk getting to this point. But then again, some of the best cake in the world is the cake that you work hard to bake from scratch by yourself right?

*gets lost in thought, J.D. style!*

- In school I had a math teacher who really inspired me. I HATED math before I was in her class. But after having a talk with her, I realized that I could actually be good at this subject if only I put in the effort! Of course, it was almost too late of a realization because I spent my entire childhood avoiding math and my very basics (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) were pretty weak. 3 times 3 could be 6 for me! Anyway, ever since my teacher inspired me and challenged me to complete an exam and get 100% of my answers correct. I was in hot pursuit for that elusive perfect score. I tried and tried and tried and tried... for four long years I tried. Exam after exam, I'd get close.... really close... but then lose out on something ridiculously careless. Finally, in my final year of high school, one of the last exams I would ever write in school, when nearly all hope was lost, I managed to get the perfect score! And I will bet you everything I own that nobody else could have been as proud of that exam as my math teacher and I were. We KNEW how difficult it was for me to get to that point! :D


- Worked at my studies for my first semester in college. Got a crappy GPA. Worked smart for the next semester, got tons of As. I valued those As a lot more because I didn't take them for granted :)

- Applied to 13 graduate schools. Got 12 rejection letters. One acceptance letter. I value that single acceptance letter because I know what it feels like to get a rejection letter :)

- Lived with a room mate I couldn't get along with for 2 years. Now I have my own apartment. I value this new found freedom that I have a lot more knowing what its like to live with somebody you don't get along with :)

- Lived in Dallas without a car for a year. Depended a ton on people to drive me to grocery stores to get basic food supplies. I have walked down scary streets to go to the nearest store to find food. I appreciate my car so much more now because I know how crappy life was without it :)

- Did 4 rotations in labs, each one seeming more unlikely than the previous to have funding to support me as a grad student. By the end of my third rotation, I thought I wasn't going to be able to find myself a Ph.D home which could fund me. I value my lab that I work in right now so much, because I almost didn't get in there and I had to fight my way and prove myself to get in :)

- Lived away from home for 2 years. My visit back to India was so unbelievably amazing because I finally understood how hard it really is to live far away from home and how amazing it feels to have family settled close by. It makes a huge difference. I know that now :)

- Didn't have friends for a year and a half so when I did eventually find them, I learnt to appreciate the importance of a good friend a ton more :)

So yeah... moral of the story, no matter how difficult things seem, if you work hard, hang in there and stay true to yourself, everything will sort out and what you get out of that is definitely a lot sweeter than just having everything handed to you :)

Here is the trick though that I am trying to become good at. Once you get stuff that is of value to you, you need to work to keep it so it stays with you!

I had to continue studying hard to keep my GPA up in undergrad, I still had to pass a qualifying exam to stay in the grad school that accepted me, I still am getting used to the responsibilities that come with having my own apartment, I still need to maintain my car regularly so it keeps running, I still need to work hard in lab and produce data to keep proving to everybody and myself that it was worth taking me in as a grad student despite financial problems that come with taking in an international student (funding is low in NIH for international students plus PI has to pay for my visa), I still have to live away from home and be strong so my family has nothing to worry about (shout out to mom and dad - there is nothing to worry about!!! I am happy and I am doing well!!!), and just finding good friends isn't enough, I gotta learn to be a good friend to all my friends who are here in my life.

So.... Here is where I stand

Even though struggling to get stuff in life can sometimes suck, I wouldn't have it any other way. No matter how difficult it gets, when things finally fall in place, I always learn something from it. And when that moment of "enlightenment" hits you, you realize...

Its all worth the wait. Its all worth the struggle :) :) :)

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