Thursday, July 10, 2014

Facing My Internal Battle, Defeat Upon Defeat

Following up on my 3 week journey here at Summer@Brown, I'd have to say that it's been tough. I've taken a look at some of my past blogs and though I felt I had poured my heart out as I wrote them, I realized that somehow I was not able to pick it up (even though I, myself, know exactly how I felt). It's only a matter of practicing and further improving my writing skills, but my point is that I'll be doing my best to be unfiltered with my personal experience at Summer@Brown, and taking on a class away from home in general.

These past days have been full of utter disappointment. I may have had a breakthrough yesterday, but just as quickly as I was able to pick up my mood, the pressure I "put" on myself ends up bringing me down too. It was until speaking with Jody today after a busy lab (for me), that I realized this. At the same time, though, I've realized that it's not quite necessarily that I pressure myself, if not, I have compared myself to my lab accomplishments with others in the class (I would have probably inserted some kind of explanation about how it's not good to compare myself, but today's blog's purpose to be raw and unfiltered- no countersayings or anything, just purely my personal experience). It's such a pressure and personal disappointment to see others so easily excelling in class, knowing terms, processes, and asking questions, while I just sit there trying to understand what one of my classmate's questions even means. Let alone, the lectures are stressful on their own. A lecture wasn't the case for today, though, it was the lab. Essentially, today was
This is what a typical day in the lab looks like
focused on looking at malignant gene expression, I believe, and running an additional electrophoresis reading. It was fairly simple and there was free time for many (who weren't table captains). On my end of the situation, I was still working on combining all the liquids for the electrophoresis reading (this was the one that everybody was already way past on). Still, I had to begin working on Protocol 3 from the notebook. While the team captains were working on further lab work, and the rest of my classmates were enjoying their time together on their last day in the lab, I was there worried about trying to finish everything I hadn't already done. We had to go up for one last class discussion (we technically did have a lecture today too) about the results from the malignant gene expression, and as you may imagine, I wasn't finished with all the work. I was near the end but not quite finished. Also, by that time, it wasn't even an option to work with the rest of the class for the electrophoresis reading. They were already finished and I didn't even have my DNA ready for even beginning the electrophoresis work. Again, it was too late, so I only did what I could.

The bench I use in the lab. Everything set out and good to go.
Just trying to keep up with everyone else, to be honest. Had the gene expression work done relatively quickly
Quick picture of Heidi and Jing (with Joe in
the background) before the
class moved upstairs for the discussion
Our last picture in the lab
(left to right: Jody, Jo, Jing, Me, Brandon)
Gotta keep smiling

On the bottom is my blood that I've worked with and
on the top (which you can't really see) is
the ethanol need to precipitate (make visible) the DNA
The lecture upstairs was all about the gene expression, so I had no idea of what was going on, particularly because the class discussion was particular to that part of the lab. Because I still hadn't finished working with my blood sample to precipitate the DNA, I headed back downstairs. I had my worries and skepticism whether or not the DNA would precipitate, or if I went wrong somewhere in the process and messed up. The moment of truth came. I added the ethanol required to the blood sample and inverted it several time to mix it all up. To my PLEASANT and GRATIFYING surprise, IT WORKED!!!!! A smile swept across my face, and I was so happy to know that it worked out accordingly and that I did't mess up- I did something RIGHT. I took my moment very well by awing at it and taking so many pictures, that Heidi couldn't believe I was being serious by taking so many. I didn't let it get in the way, so I snapped away with many pics and let the moment soak in.

It WORKED!!!!!!!!!! This is my DNA!!! It PRECIPITATED!!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, it was time to head back up and of course, I had no idea what was going on. Even with some help from my classmate sitting beside me, I had trouble understanding. In the end, class was over and I stayed to ask for yet more help from Jody. It had to do with an enzyme problem about time, so there was both a prominent mathematical part to it, as well as a conceptual part to it. Apparently, I did great conceptually, knowing what it was that I wanted to solve, however, the math with all the microliters, micrograms, units, and time was the challenging part. Throughout the entire session, Jody sensed my frustration. To my comfort, she pointed out how college life can get, and how I was getting an idea of it. She also said some really re-assuring things as well. She said how I have that conceptual understanding. "It's a gift," she said. It meant something to know that somewhere amongst all you the things you thought you were doing wrong, there was that gift. It's pretty difficult to explain exactly how things go down when you go through an emotionally frustrating situation, so in short terms, I felt slightly re-assured in myself and felt better about having done what I had done and doing what I did to try to understand the course's topics and such.

It was lunch and I was still frustrated. Things were just very down, despite the few words Jody had to say. Looking back at it, I noticed I ate less than usual, probably because my lunch consisted of mostly thinking and some reflecting. It wasn't they best day I've had here. I made my way back to the dorm and wanted to work more on everything I had to do, but a few minutes into everything I napped, and for more than the amount I planned to. I woke up, not refreshed this time, as I was still very tired, but I had to get things done. I researched some, but then Amulia and I headed out to get dinner. Right after we went out to the college fair. I saw so many tables set for many East Coast Schools that I had never heard of, but in the many schools there, I did recognize a few like Dartmouth, Yale, Stanford, and Rice. I looked at only a few before it was already 8. Both Amulia and I made it back to the Keeney, where I was left off to do work once again.

I had the last cluster meeting a while ago, where my RA basically let us know the procedure of returning our key to the dorm. It was very brief for me, as I had to return to my work and such. Today I also talked to one of my sisters and just had some time to communicate with her and what was going on, a much less filtered conversation than this blog could ever provide, but in all, it was just some words of wisdom. I'll get through this. I'll look back at it and wonder how I made such a big deal out of it, and I can totally see myself blushing as future Arnold is reading this, but in all honesty, it's how I feel in the present, and going through your own struggles isn't something to be ashamed of. Before I get to seem all unsuspectingly optimistic, I'd just like to tone things down a bit. Today's blog is not one showcasing how great and amazing and wonderful and perfect and glorious everything is. It's just one of those days. Everyone has them, I'm just deciding to show you guys what mine has been for me today. Before I sound like I'm giving up, though, I just have to say that I wont' and I am not. I still got work to do for tomorrow, and that's what I'm going to do.

1 comment:

  1. Arnold, getting to see a picture of your DNA spiral was one of my favorite Brown-I cohort blog moments. You persevered and you accomplished it! You are very mature to realize that comparing yourself to others who are having easier successes in the course can cause you to feel undue pressure, and I remember us talking about this at our first Chevy's dinner. It's very true. Your personal learning is what matters in this experience, not your learning in comparison with others' learning.

    I am very happy for you - you did it!