Thursday, November 18, 2010

working hard

just a quick note while im waiting for the post office to re-deliver a package from home before i head to the lab....

so this year, i've been kind of quiet and absent from the online scene. its too distracting and time-consuming, and god knows i've been busy. lab life and work, entrance exams for masters here, GRE and applications for graduate school overseas, and that project that dominated my mind throughout the first three quarters of the year - iGEM.

so i'm back from boston (since last thursday, actually). for all our efforts this year ('our' = mine, n the 4 third-year juniors working hard in the lab; the other members were sort of sleeping till the last moment, but that's japanese customs for u - juniors work, seniors sit back n reap the rewards), we only got a bronze medal. no, not the 'third place; 2nd runner-up' bronze; its the lowest-tiered consolation prize, awarded to teams who fulfilled the most minimum of criteria for participation. 2 steps down from last year, where we got gold, at least.

anyway, during the long plane flights, something sort of just fell into place in my head, a lesson that i have been slowly picking up throughout this year that i realized clearly for the first time.

throughout my high school, japanese language course n early university years, i had always been afraid of trying hard. afraid of working hard towards a goal without any guarantee that i will succeed. afraid of what people might think if i let them know about my lofty ambitions as contrasted with my limited abilities.

so i just realized. since attending iGEM last autumn n getting a clear vision of my future path (or at least, the path i wanted to take) for the first time, i had been working hard. working hard to get good grades to save my borderline GPA, working hard to get my professor's approval so that he will write me a good recommendation, working hard for good scores in GRE; and working hard in iGEM this year.

in retrospect, iGEM had nothing to do with my university application. i admit it, i was secretly hoping to talk to some professors there in MIT, score a few brownie points for my application; but we ended up being so busy with overdue preparation for the presentation that that was out of the question.

so in iGEM, i tried hard but sort of failed. and it doesnt feel too good. my question is this: is trying hard the main point in itself, or do the results matter more? we learn, improve and develop personally when striving to achieve something; but if it all comes down to nothing, was the arduous journey worth it?

'the things we regret most in life are those we did not do'. i hope that applies to reaching out for our dreams, no matter how far out of reach, too.