The throngs of underclassmen have returned to campus, so happy to be back to college or ready to start their new journey towards bigger and brighter futures.
And here I am, still. I had my own time at a much smaller University almost 7 years ago, and boy do I miss it. I miss the general education classes, the deadlines, and most of all the answers. I could always find the answers to all the questions, with relatively little difficulty. I miss the predictability of that life, and it is crazy to think that I graduated 5 years ago now. And now these youngings are back on campus, enjoying their life, while I sit in a cold dark room, with no answers. All I have anymore are questions, and these questions haven’t been asked and if they have, there is NO answer, yet.
I collect data in search of the unexplained, misunderstood, or seldom thought of questions in science, and I am sure you don’t care about that necessarily. But I have questions about life too. Am I smart enough to be doing what I am pursing? I am there enough for my family? What about the friends that visited me and took care of me when I was at my weakest, I haven’t seen them in years, are we still friends? Am I am strong enough for this life that I have been working the last few years to accomplish? So many questions, and there are no definite answers when I ask them. But then I step back.
I think about how I have been there for the big events, the baptisms, the birthdays, the family gatherings, even if it means working an absurd amount of hours to get a chunk of time to do what I believe is important. I do my best to reach out to my friends that I haven’t seen in a while, even if it is just a few texts on some random day. And that is what this comes down to, trying your best and believing even if it is for a brief moment that you can, you WILL accomplish everything, in due time.
I never expected to be here in this cold, dark room. But I am and I need to make the best of this time. Yes, I will understand and find things out that no one has ever discovered, but that isn’t my complete story. My story also continues to my family and the family I want to have. What I am saying is you can do it all and be it ALL. You can have that awesome career and a great personal life, the two are not mutually exclusive, so I stop trying to separate them completely. Sometimes it does get overwhelming, and I nearly breakdown, but then I stop. I try to focus on the future and what this difficulty will lead me to.
Yes, my research is difficult, but I am fulfilling a promise to my deceased grandfather that I would one day be a doctor (Ph.D), and I know he was so proud of my perseverance through my diagnosis and academic challenges and other personal struggles.
I am considered a disabled individual, and I think about what my story can mean to a little girl that was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, that is terrified of how they will be able to manage an invisible disease, medications, illness, and endless doctor appointments and still have the energy to pursue school and sports.
I tend to think in the present, and what I have yet to accomplish. But that’s not the end of my story. I try, really hard, to focus on what this difficulty in my life will lead me to. My story doesn’t end in this cold dark room, and instead actually, it is the light. It is the answer to who I am, who I want to become, and how I want to positively impact my community. I can do this, and will. And you can and will too.
When you lose that motivation, just remember everything you have accomplished up to that point of breaking. Remember, your difficulties do not define you; they merely represent a learning experience about life. If life were easy, we wouldn’t enjoy those good moments as much as we do, and we wouldn’t learn. We learn through those tough times probably more than those blissfully happy times, and through learning we grow. We grow into the person we want to become, and that is all you can hope to achieve in this life.
To love, live, and learn…all the time, with the difficulties, that is the only answer that I actually know anymore.