And So It Begins – The Golden Boy, Now Stateless

Just as a digression before I begin. A few years ago (when I was going through the Ph.D. interview process for the first time) there was a prospect of me moving to Dallas to attend school.  Though this opportunity didn’t end up bearing fruit there was a beautiful thought of being able to name a series of blog posts – The Golden Body in The Lone Star State – which other than being descriptive of both where I’ve been (growing up in California, and it being the Golden State) and where I was going (Texas is the Lone Star State) would have been a catchy title for process of moving away from home and being in a lonely state of mind.  Though reality ultimately it turned out for the better I did hope that wherever state I ended up in had a nice nickname to make a catch title. Low and behold I went to the one place in the United States that doesn’t have a state nickname… because it’s not a state at all, Washington D.C.  Maybe it was the world’s way of telling me that I need to try a bit harder on the naming scheme, but as it stands now, I’m Stateless.


 

 

I’ve been here for almost a month now, trying to find a home in a new place. Transforming these open spaces into homelike traces wanting so much to find where I belong.

All new things take time, the question is how much time should I take.  It’s easy of course when you have a place you’ve established, it’s easy when the reality is that you are only so far away. Everything is so new, and so different but walks around with the false facsimile of something familiar. You know, it’s a lot of effort to have the chance to find where I could possible stand. It has caused me to lay awake at night, unable to find a comfortable place to lay my head, yearning so much for what I’ve known. There is no break from that reality for me, I am here, and they are there. With thousands of miles of land between us, there is no illusion like there is with the sea, that you might just be there on the other side of the waves. Though we can edge that distance, the truth is that you or I can’t cross it completely.

It’s trying to find that place that is comfortable, which is hard for someone who at times doesn’t even like his own skin.  It was easier last time, I had a group of people that I was thrust into on an extremely regular basis, a community already established, and a community of many who wanted to connect just as much as I. Joined by as shared vision brought on by this beautifully temporary space, connecting not only in dream but in heart.

I didn’t need to prove anything to them, I came in with a much-warranted humility that I need to start from scratch. Start building up from where I was, though experiences not learned. I think my two years have given me a slight complex about wanting to show I’ve learned, to prove that I know, and to know that I am respected.  Respect takes time, it’s not handed out like candy but built like cake. Layer by layer. It’s partially because I’m scared that I use this knowledge to defend myself, to make it seem like I am competent and confident when in reality, I don’t know what the next step it. I’m shaking inside, retreating into my head, thankfully I’ve made friends there since last time, so it isn’t too detrimental.

It’s lonesome, though. I thrive when I am known, and here nobody knows me. I can’t say it’s all that bad, people are friendly here, living their lives to the fullest. Going from place to place with a mission and purpose, and all I’m trying to do is find where I fit in all this. Of course, if I would stop thinking and just do, then I would eliminate most of my troubles. If I were to reach out, and make reality what I want it to be, then I wouldn’t have this problem.  I need not regress to this shy person I was before, the one who didn’t know up from down and didn’t understand anyone including himself. Maybe it’s premature for all this talk now, but it’s hard not to the I’ve awake at night wondering where everyone else in the world is.

It’s a bit troubling, but I have to be resilient to myself. Now is the perfect time to become who I want to be and stand firm who I have been.  It’s that belief in myself that I need to renew and learn to power forward. If I am true to myself, then people will naturally gather. There will be some bumps on the road, but this is an excellent chance to reaffirm what I know and grow even more.

I can’t say it’s been easy, but who really want life to be easy. It’s too dull that way anyways.

A little bit of failure.

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It’s finally come, the moment where the cascade of everything that was slowly stacking up finally came made me lose something. Now, it’s partially due to a series of unfortunate events that led to the personal failure that in some way may have been avoided if only I had taken a moment to consider the world.  In having already reflected on these events what I come away with is something different than I thought I would in the first place. A sense of understanding and realization of maturity in myself.

Some things can’t be avoided, but most things can be tracked back with the realization that it’s usually a set of multiple failures that go unheeded before things like this happen. For me, it was just a bit of consideration.  I keep my most of my life pretty prepared for the inevitable unexpected things that may happen to me.  This is shown best through the weight of the bag I carry with me through my day-to-day.  It’s heavy, full of all things I may or may not need during the course of my day.  This preparation is something I am going to reflect on another time but for this moment, that preparation and routine broke down.  I had been rushing from the moment I woke up because of the fact that I had woken up late and was practically running the rest of the day.  In an attempt to be productive and feel on top of things I decided to upgrade my personal computer while at work, something I’ve never done. This lead to my computer crashing and ultimately losing a months worth of work.  I didn’t remind people enough about running the study in my lab so I ended up having to fill in missing a lecture I wanted to hear.  I spent about 5 hours dealing with the problem with my computer ultimately settling on the only option of resetting everything and starting over from a back up I had made a month ago. This back up should have been more recent but because I decided not to back up before I upgraded, I lost.

I never got mad though, a little exasperated by dominoes falling into place as they did but I felt like I handled it well. I just did what I needed to do and kept moving forward.  The final straw with all the loss of time and files came with an application I was supposed to submit the next day. Of all my time in Graduate School, I’ve managed to claw together everything I’ve needed, maybe sometimes at the last second but it’s always has worked out. This time though, this time I couldn’t scrape by. I wrote and wrote but by I realized several hours before it was due that I had to make a choice. Turn something I was not proud of and blow off some of my other responsibilities or admit defeat. and continue forward.  This time I conceded.  It’s not something I’m proud of but it was necessary I feel for my growth.  I push myself and have reached the limit not of what I can do with talents but with time.  I have too much going on and not enough time to do everything.  This means, something’s got to give and I don’t choose for myself, then my choices will be made for me.  It’s hard for someone who wants to do everything because if I had the ability to I would but I can’t so choices have to be made. Kind of like triage, save what is savable, do what’s important and try all that you might to use the hours that we have to accomplish the things that we need.  Failure is part of that growth.  It allows me to see that there see where I still need to keep going.  I think it’s gonna come to a head soon I think, me or it. Perhaps a month from now we will see who wins and where we will go from there but until then, I’ll keep moving forward.

 

3 Year Research Aniversary

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I didn’t realize until notified by Facebook that three years ago today I presented my first academic poster.  Interestingly enough, today was also the first time I gave a research talk in front of an audience.  The strange part is the difference between who I was back then, and who I am now.  It was a world of change, and the journey is the most interesting part.

I was in my final year of my undergrad, conducting my own research project under the tutelage of a professor who gave me the opportunity to work for them.  There I was, at the culmination of a year’s worth of work, standing in front of a poster, presenting all that could. The time I spent, over and over crafting that paper and ink was extreme. I wanted it to be the best thing it could be. I had undercut myself, didn’t think big.  I did a poster, and yet through it all was unsatisfied because it felt like it wasn’t enough.

I’m here now, having gone through this journey and come out the other side realizing that I didn’t do enough. I didn’t strive hard enough, like a chicken with its head cut off, I didn’t know which way was up or down, just that I needed to keep moving. I am a man fortunate enough to have second chances and recognize when I have the opportunity to correct something. To do more than I thought I could before.

But today I gave a talk and though I still feel that hunger from wanting to do more, I know where my next step is, and where to put in the effort. Today is like the second chance, a change and proof of growth.  I like the sound of that.