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.


Wan Ying Teoh said...

This is a good question, one which I ask myself all the time.
Two very important things I think you lack - confidence and belief.
Admit it, you're smarter and more talented than most of your peers. You have to realize that(if you haven't) and generate confidence from there. For me, I always tell myself: if someone can do that, so can I, if I really want to. The question then is: do I really want it?
As far as experience goes, half-hearted effort usually don't score big. True, there are some flukes, and lucky success here and there. But the big ones - its all or nothing. If its not worth it, why waste even the tiniest bit of effort. If yes, I go all out, WITH the confidence that I can do it. (I know you're probly atheist :P but prayer plays a big part too. God loves us :) )
About iGEM, no need to feel bad. Not to sound like a conceited bitch, but I usually hate group work, because less competent people screw things up. No matter how good you are, there is a limit to how much you can cover for them. Like you said, there are unworthy people in your team. Its not your fault :)
Just remember, you're more intelligent than most people. Waste it or not, your choice.

p/s: Waiting for you to ~Party in the USA~ next year hohoho

raptor_ravenlord said...

thanks for the input.

i guess, while i can consider myself a 'kinda' hardworking guy, i've never really had the guts to go all out for anything 'risky' or uncertain.

for me, confidence is something that comes from experience; since i never really pushed myself in this way before, it's really a giant leap of faith to devote so much time and effort (most of my senior year actually) to something that may or may not pay off. in a way i'm glad i did it, cuz after we do something once it becomes easier to do it again... but i dunno how i'll feel about it when(if?) i'm confronted by a stream of rejection letters later on.

n actually, i'm NOT as intelligent as you may think. while determination n confidence may get me somewhere, there r certainly limits to my abilities. a little while back i came to the sobering realization that i may well have the lowest undergrad GPA of all malaysians who came to japan on the same scholarship, as far as i know.

btw, i'm not atheist, i'm a free thinker :P but i guess there's no functional difference in this case.

Kim Siang said...

You have learnt from dota......Pick a hero you like, buy your equipments, go all out, get your "beyond godlike"...

So, in reality......Pick a topic/assignment that you like, gather all important materials, go all out, get your "beyond godlike"...

But be sure you are not using Puck, who always hit and hide.....LOL

Ikuto said...

Thou, your blog is complete randomness, if you still are there write some things here, it's been a while.

Reader from Finland

P.S BTW you should allow anonymous comments, it's pain in the **s to log in just to post a comment.