So It Goes

Thursday, January 4, 2018

We’re here at the  beginning of yet another year. I don’t do year end posts/new year resolution posts very often (I don’t think I’ve ever done one in recent memory) but I thought it would be a fun thing to do for me with the things that I’ve read recently that sum up 2017 and plans for 2018 as well.
I spent the first day of the year going to a frozen waterfall in cold and windy weather thinking it was quite cold, only to find myself in a bomb cyclone days later. Such is life. 
On Being Female and Accomplishments
 “For too many women like me, humility is social currency, and we assume (hope) that our accomplishments will speak for themselves — this is wishful thinking.”  
I was interviewing for a job earlier this year and as it was winding down, the interviewer had asked, “Why didn’t you talk about your writing?”. I paused. Why don’t I? Part of it is because I’m female*, part of it is because I’m Asian but those are just excuses, if I’m honest with myself. I’m guilty of not talking enough about myself and my achievements. I’m a writer (stay tuned for more writing from me in early 2018 apart from my blog yet again), researcher, sometime photographer, and as of late 2017, eventual doctor.

On Expectations 
Reading Jemma Wei’s blog post, “The Year of All Our Resolutions” also answered the question for me: 
“I was going through a period where I was very unsure of where I stood in today’s world. I was not well-versed enough in the academia of things I believed in, and so felt like a hack, and on the other hand, felt an intense pressure to live up to the expectations of people around me... Now, I am not one of those people who will tell you to ignore the expectations of other people and label all Expectations Evil, with double capitalized Es. I think people around you have expectations for you because they love you, although this love is often portrayed in misguided ways. I am less forgiving of society’s expectations, although that debate is an old cliche by now, but I do recognize that the cultural times we live in dictate certain consequences that correlate to the breaking of expectations, and I’d like to think that I’m relatively realistic about it, or at least, I try to be.”
I used to doubt myself but now I care less about how things happened and more about the future. I am thankful for friends who push me to be a better person time and time again and support my plans, regardless of how big they might be. It’s one of the things that I appreciate as I’m out of school (albeit briefly before I dive back in), that friendship is something that both parties choose to actively partake in, rather than a group of people who are together because of proximity.

Hard Work and Then Some
And finally, this Chinese quote that writer Amelie Zhao shared in her post to her 2014-2017 past selves:
“台上一分钟,台下十年功” (Tái shàng yī fēnzhōng, tái xià shí nián gōng. One minute of brilliance onstage is ten years of hard work offstage). 
It’s so easy to forget that people’s accomplishments take a lot of hard work and admire whatever’s on the surface, especially with social media and constant updates on people’s careers and what not. My research mentor/boss told me this though when I first talked to her, “Keep in sight what you want and work towards it. Don’t worry about what over people are doing too much because sometimes they take circuitous paths.” I’ve kept that quote with me ever since. Something that I’ve felt acutely this year is that opportunities are created because I chose to go after them and rarely do they come to me. Going after things can be the hardest thing to do, but once plans come to fruition, everything is worth it.

Here’s to more in 2018, for me and you. Let’s all work harder as well as smarter and may all the good things come.

*Women have a tendency to only apply to jobs that they’re 100% qualified for whereas men apply to jobs when they’re only 60 qualified for and this discrepancy has to do with how women tend to see the job application process as rigid and the mistaken believe that not applying protects the self from failure.

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