Happy New Year Friends!

Let’s get right into what many have been chattering on about — resolutions. NPR, I love you, but you made me feel really bad today for not resolving to do much of anything this year. I think I’m allergic to the idea of declaring anything and, especially this year, new affirmations seem irrelevant. For the first time in a long time I am generally okay with who I am.  Then something occurred to me while watching Friends re-runs on NYE. I thought, “What the heck, you can resolve to do anything at any time!” You don’t need a special day once a year to declare it!

Declaring anything never sat well with me. If you want to do it, write it down, make a plan, and execute it. Let it be your mantra, tell people, or keep it to yourself. Whatever it is you have to do, we all have our own way of reaching our goals. I’m not saying a little encouragement from the New Year fairy can’t hurt, but waiting for this one day to make a change, much like waiting on others to change, is futile. My undergraduate advisor had this lovely scroll on her wall that bore a message which stuck with me: “To dream of the person you wish to be is to deny the person you are.” So, instead of speaking of what I would like to do, I will speak on what I have learned because don’t we usually end up making the same promises to ourselves every year anyway? Perhaps we should digress, learn from the past, and then make our way into who we are becoming.

2012 was fascinatingly successful and grueling all at once. I graduated “freaking CMU” (as my mom says in her Balkan accent), and yet I didn’t harness all the special powers I thought the degree would grant me. Such as the ability to build all the ideas I thought up in my head for the greater good, or the connections that would rocket me into some secret portal of Nobel laureates and employment! Instead, I found out that I was listed as a non-citizen all three semesters of my graduate education, thus blocking me from Lord knows how many possible jobs. Thanks, Carnegie Mellon, for accepting my money no matter my status! Yep, I’ve got a few issues with the system in general, but the truth is, my experience would have likely been the same no matter what school I chose. That’s just the way things are today – make it your own way, figure it out yourself. The textbook knowledge and lab experience was really invaluable, for sure. Won’t deny it. With all the “DNA SPLICING!” I feel ready for anything now. (That’s what my friends think I do. I don’t actually splice, I lyse. And as a side note, don’t ever watch the movie Splice, ever. Disturbing.) No, what I really learned during this time was… how to walk away from the rubble of sabotaged endeavors. How to pick up the pieces of your spitted-on efforts and move on with an intact faith in humanity. That, often, the people whom you think should care the most, the ones you called role models, are no less prone to insanity, mistakes or ill will. In fact, they are not the ones you really need to rely on at all.

What you actually have to develop, and I think this applies to anything you do, is a sense of security in yourself, and a trust in your intuition. It may very well be the little guy next door, the grad student toiling away at his own crazy project who has the real insight, answers, and sometimes eye-opening questions. I wasn’t surprised to see how many young minds are success-hungry, seeming as though they’ll step over whatever or whomever they need to get ahead. What I was surprised by is that they’re not all like this, and if anyone should band together it’s us, the little guys. The young and un-jaded. There were those rare gems among the older crowd who were willing to give you advice you could actually use rather than a lecture about how hard it is, and how you need to find your own answers. That gives me hope. But more than anything, it became clear to me just how challenging it is to develop self-reliance without giving up on those around you. On top of this, you can’t just get mad when someone disagrees, even if just for the sake of disagreeing (ah! The greatest nuisance). Some people just always have something to contribute. *chest pain* But you must keep your own ears open and weed out the useful material from all the rambling and nonsense. Ideas, love, and expression are to be shared, not hoarded for oneself. For real progress to happen, communication that is clear and productive must occur. That goes for the academic, professional, and social network—which brings me to the 2nd harsh reality–the B.S. doesn’t stop here, after graduation, nor does it bypass our most important investment: friendship. To have a friend one must be a friend, and that is the most important lesson so many have seemed to resolve to forget this past year. We are at the forefront of a major journey (we 20 something’s reading this), looking back at the crossroads only one-step behind us, or for some of you, perhaps you’re still standing in the middle of them. Either way, choices have been made, passions are being realized (slowly for some of us, including me!) and to be frank, we are being thrust into this thing called adulthood. That is why I have been hearing more and more stories about people “changing,” and about life becoming more complicated. “Things are complicated, and I love you but I do not have time to deal with this right now.” An echo of the voices of grad school, “I’d love to help, but I just can’t at the moment.”

I could go on but I won’t. The point is this: if we don’t help each other, who will? Which is why it is so nice to be a part of this group of women here on the web, trying to construct some cushioning for this bumpy road we are all just beginning to travel. So what are your hopes for 2013? I would love to know, what is the most valuable lesson you have learned from the past year, and if you are seeking a change, what may it be?

Image Via hello angela

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