musings

the enemy of progress is perfection

…therefore, strive for PROGRESS, not perfection.

(So…I definitely missed the obligatory New Years post. But since it’s Chinese New Year, that’s pretty much the same right? 🙂 PS, I haven’t forgotten about the last 2 days of Chile…the rest will resume shortly!)

I have recently come to recognize that one of my greatest weaknesses is how accurately the first part of this quote applies to my life. A mantra that used to appeal to me was, “Shoot for the moon, and you’ll land among the stars”, which people use to motivate them to dream. Landing amongst stars isn’t bad at all; the problem is, for a perfectionist, this mantra is terrible. For a perfectionist, once we reach the stars, we realize that what we really want is still the moon, and anything less is devastating to our perfectionist EQ. So, similarly, for a time, I got discouraged from not reaching the moon. And, instead of forgetting about it, I reacted in the most unhealthy way: by thinking, “if I can’t reach my moon, why even try at all? It is all pointless, and society can produce great people that don’t have to be me.”

It was pretty bad.

Thankfully, I knew I couldn’t keep that mindset for long. People do not function by operating at extremes, either the extreme right or the extreme left.  I know I wasn’t happy trying to be perfect, but I still got stuff done, and I was DEFINITELY not happy NOT doing anything. Early on 1st year of med school, failing embarassingly on a project I signed up for taught me an important lesson: I needed to learn to say NO. I needed to learn my limits, learn to prioritize things I can do and forget things with low yield, and find that balance between underwork and overambition. In short, I needed to learn to be MATURE.

Self discipline is something many people struggle with, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t struggle to keep up with it. Self discipline is a vital skill in order to progress in life. It is also the bane of my existence. However, I learned the hard way that ignoring self discipline and trying to do windsprints to nowhere gets you to precisely that location: no where. Training for a half marathon was my first practice in self discipline and literally changed my life. I went from thinking I could never run more than 2 miles to running 13.1, from having no $$ to raising $1400 for cancer with the help of awesome friends and family, and realized that when there is a will, there IS a way. That way just means a PLAN, and what one needs to remember is that you NEED to have a plan, not just a will.

Two articles I read at the end of 2013 were reminders of my need to continue to progress on this life lesson of self discipline. I realized in 2013 that it is ok to have dreams, and you CAN reach them, but you need to be kind to yourself during the process and KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Make realistic dreams, so that 1. You can actually reach them and 2. You can go beyond them when you do reach them!  Two articles from waitbutwhy, on how to beat procrastination, and the Business Insider, on the secret behind Google’s productivity, were extremely useful in helping me establish this plan to accomplish my resolution for this upcoming year: to be consistently PROGRESSIVE. Progress does NOT happen overnight, but huge progressions in society DO occur OVER TIME. That’s all they need: time, and patience. No, I’m not going to be able to post 10 blog entries in a matter of one month, but, if I consistently progressively post at LEAST a couple a month, over the course of the year I have this whole collection of posts that didn’t take that much effort to begin with!

So there lies my new years resolution (albeit 2 months late :P). Yes, there are many more specifics, but my main resolution this year is to strive for PROGRESS, in multiple areas of my life, and not get discouraged by PERFECTION.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but at the end of this year, I want to look back and be proud of the progress, whatever size it is, that I’ve made with self discipline.

PS:

A brief slideshow of pics from my phone/point and shoot:

2013, the year I learned what it meant to listen to my limits, love myself, and fully rely on and give my career to God (now, just to trust Him completely for everything else :))…you’ve been so good. Thank you for providing people to get in the way of my overambitious goals and keep me in check. And thank you everyone for being  part of my 2013 🙂

Cheers to an equally awesome 2014–the year of the horse! 新年快乐!

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. –1 Corinthians 12:10

 

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so…why a year off?

I’ve been asked this question a lot about why I chose to take a year off, so  you can now read my answer in writing 🙂  Particularly for current medical students who are considering taking a year off in the future, check out the blog entry I wrote for Kaplan’s medical blog on the topic here!

PS: Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions…here is my shameless plug for some love in their comments section 🙂 But in all seriousness, the rest of their blog is a nice mix of med students from all ages writing about everything in med school, from first year exams to step 1 to rotations, so lower years, take it as you will!

(Self) Epiphanies of the day

(with obnoxious hashtags just for kicks ;))

1. My wanderlust, interest in photography/photojournalism and the international world is attributable 100% to the fact that my family subscribed to National Geographic during my middle school and early high school years and I read them religiously. And kept stacks of them in my room too. #wandereratheartbutsubconsiouslytrainedthatway

2. My interest in personal stories, op-ed and other essays stems from the fact that my family also subscribed to TIME magazine (and also Reader’s Digest for a little bit), which I also read religiously, and then I started reading the New York Times. This was partially to get current events to do well in AP US History (LOL), to have things to talk about, to have things to read, and also to prepare for the SATs (yup, admitting total tool status right there. #sorrynotsorry)

3. I credit my distaste for improper grammar and my desire to use a more expansive vocabulary whenever possible to the prep I did in order to do well on the SATs (though I’m pretty sure that last sentence has some grammatical error xD). I literally kept a notebook where I would record unknown words I encountered in the aforementioned reading materials and write the definitions/sentence in context. #overachievingepicnerdstatus

4. My desire to be a housewife/do crafts/cook comes partially from the fact that my family also subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens for a while too haha! But more of it has to do with the fact that my grandpa is EXTREMELY handy and made like a ton of things around the house by hand instead of buying, whenever he could. My grandparents also loved going out to restaurants not just to eat, but to steal dish ideas to recreate at home. #secretlywishicouldjustbeahousewife

4. Borderline unhealthy desire to learn all things musical (singing, piano/guitar and dance too!) are due to a) piano lessons for almost 9 years and b) a brief foray into dance classes in like… 5th or 6th grade or something haha #hindsightis20/20 #thankyouparents

5. People always say I’m really smiley…I think part of it is credit to my mom, who used to randomly smile at me whenever I would look over at her when I was growing up. This was like all the way until middle school. #momsarethebest 🙂

6. Part of the reason I like being social, but I’m also fiercely independent, is credit to going to sleepaway camp in 7th and 8th grade and a) learning to meet and befriend people in a short amount of time and b)fend on my own early on  #nerdcampftw

7. Part of the reason I love nature is because I grew up in a rural-fringe suburb. I have woods behind my parent’s house that I would explore constantly, back when I didn’t know about ticks and actually had time. #hikingftw

Just a couple introspections. It is a testament to more reasons life is so beautiful, and our lives are really shaped extensively by our experiences and exposures…even ones we don’t expect. NOTE: Things to keep in mind when I’m parenting in the future–I want my kids to have similar values! In reference to a sentiment in a previous post, not enough people are seizing life/being productive members of society/making the most of opportunities nowadays but my kids certainly will!!

In other news, one of my friends posted up this article from Business Insider about a study by Dr. Ungar and colleagues at Penn analyzing the relationship between people’s personalities and their facebook posts (which are quite accurate…surprise?). It caught my eye because there were a bunch of word clouds they shared as part of the results and I would like to direct your attention to the bubble for introversion:

(click for larger image)

From that cloud, it would appear as if using japanese emoticons like ^__^ or >__< or o__O are associated with introversion?! I use a TON of these…what does that mean?! haha. Quite a fascinating study though. The original research article is from PLOSOne here.

my people

“i heart you”, said heart to the gut 😛

You know that feeling when you meet people that totally just click with you? That you can be yourself around and not be judged, or be judged but still tolerated? That you might not even know that well yet, but you know you have so many things in common already, and totally hit it off?

Or when you just love the people you’re surrounded with?
Reason #howeverhundred I’m so happy I chose medicine: my classmates and peers are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, or will ever meet, and though not everyone creates that same feeling felt above, there is a pretty darn high percentage of them that do. It is true that you may just meet some of your best friends in med school.

Absolutely love the people I’m meeting, the people in my life, and the environment I’m in. Trust me, it wasn’t always like this, and won’t always be like this either. But man, does it feel good, and this moment deserves recognition in a post so that if I ever doubt or feel lonely, I am reminded that I really am not. Another reason I think this is possible is because I feel like I’m finally being honest with myself and who I am. Med school taught me the hard way that you can never please people, but hey, the lesson is learned. Also, I’ve been slowly coming out of my introvert shell–opening up a bit more, letting people in a bit more, being confident in who I am and getting away from the ‘pleasing’ mindset that has been in my head too long. It is amazingly liberating how good this feels.
Thanks be to God for always being so amazing and providing 🙂

photos within photos

THIS:
75-captivating-looking-into-the-past-pictures

So cool!

Also, quite pleased I actually got my butt out the door and on this trail! Went the opposite direction from the original plan, but it was a nice run regardless (click to expand)

update: didn’t think it was possible, but woke up still with a runner’s/endorphin high! definitely need to do this more often! 🙂

and the search continues…

source

“Finding a mentor is a lot like dating…you wouldn’t respond to a super long message from a stranger, right?”   -P

Haha…these past two weeks have proven that statement to be a very accurate analogy. Like my methods towards dating, in my search for a mentor:

1. I’m open. I’m willing to listen and give people chances
2. Chemistry is important. Sounds weird putting it in this context, but it really is. Also, the ‘chemistry’ in the lab also is important…get it? HAHA sorry too tempting to pass up 😉
3. Future prospects matter…a little bit. Though less in dating than here. Or is it vice versa ???
4. Connections are vital–they make or break who you might be able to meet, and can open so many doors!!
5. I’m still too nice. Need to be more effective at communication. Need to be FIRM when I do NOT want to work with someone. No but’s…you can’t have everything!
6. I like knowing everything about a person, so in a mentor search pubmed, the NIH website and the interwebs is basically the ‘fb’ of each investigator.  haha
7. First impressions are very important.
8. At the end of the day, you just need to take a leap of faith and COMMIT!!

Unfortunately though, unlike in dating, a ‘date’ or meeting that doesn’t end up working out doesn’t mean a new friend…that’s a whole area of lost connections. Yikes.

 These past two weeks have been initially stressful, because I was in a rush to identify a mentor or at least get SOME leads…but while I would really like to identify a mentor soon (so I can start working!! and also stop wasting people’s time) I actually sort of enjoy this process. It is a lot like attending mini-seminars at an umbrella of a ‘conference’ of my research interests…it is very awesome learning about each individual team’s work, questions, and variations in methodology! I’ve learned so much in this past week…particularly because the people I talk with are so brilliant and accomplished, and have so much experience ;__; I wish I could work with everyone (maybe that’s not impossible? hmm…particularly if I do microbiome stuff?? (reality check…no))

Need to remember proper etiquette in my correspondence during this time. Particularly:

-Just like in medicine, each person you talk with is an individual who demands your individual attention, and frankly doesn’t know nor could care less about the many other people you are in correspondence with. So, RESPECT. Respond to emails in a time manner, because their time is just as important as yours. 

-Take the time to craft a well thought out, well executed email. These people, again, are at the top of their field, have years of experience, and are (amazingly) willing to give you their time! Though you are no where near their level, respect!!

-Calling someone by their first name still does NOT make them your peer. Need to get used to this. It took me a year and a half to finally get on terms with calling K by his first name, just because it was so hard for me to give him the respect I thought he deserved as my mentor otherwise. But EVERYONE does it in research. ^__^’ OK FINE, first name basis it is, but KEEP THAT RESPECT

-At the same time, don’t discount yourself. I feel almost inferior compared to the brilliance of the people here, but apparently I guess getting into the program counts for something huh? And apparently people are impressed my CV, which IS who I am, so I guess all this hard work does pay off?

I am really blessed to be accepted to a program that does recognize hard work paying off. Again, am so fortunate to have this amazing opportunity.

Also, while this is technically a ‘year off’ from med school, it is NOT a ‘year off’. Made that mistake my first summer…not going to let something as incredible as this go to waste. Already my schedule is booked for the weekend and summers…hopefully things will calm down later this year ^__^’

star struck *_*

Oh my goodness…so the science dork in me is DYING here!!! First of all, my tutor at the NIH discovered freaking fibronectin (and is a total beast at everything else. But we’ll just leave it there for now haha). Second of all, Dr. Fraumeni of THE Li-Fraumeni syndrome (which as a refresher, is an autosomal dominant hereditary disorder characterized by mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene that–for nonmedical people–strongly predisposes people to cancer at a young age) is not only STILL AT the NIH, but is also a tutor for one of the (SUPER LUCKY) students here. Ahh!!!!

It’s going to take a while for me to get used to this. Thank you so much Lord for this amazing opportunity ❤ My science dorkiness is in full swing hahaha.

In other news, this is currently on repeat:

Thanks to C for the share :))

DONE WITH 3RD YEAR!!!!

It goes without saying that this year has been insane, from ridic hours to ridic cases, but the ability to experience the nitty gritty of medicine made this year my favorite year yet. Even more awesome was having the honor of working with amazing classmates, incredible residents, brilliant attendings and finally, merciful patients (haha)! The lessons learned this year were unmatchable.

Will definitely miss clinical medicine for a year, but in the meantime, time to get ready for the NIH ;D

(more to come later…now to pack!)

it’s all relative

I CANNOT believe it is already June 10th!! Where did is all the time going!? I feel like I started pediatrics, blinked, and now it’s almost over. Which freaks me out because there is a lot of administrative stuff I need to do before I start my year off. Namely:

-de-register as a medical student and submit all my forms, which I’m still trying to figure out
-coordinate stuff at the NIH
-study for my peds shelf at some point, since that is next week >__<
-say goodbye to everyone (this might not happen)

-email all my rec writers
-meet with GM and KS

Time needs to slow down o_O I took a day off of work today and I still didn’t get everything I wanted to get done. Yikes.