Monthly Archives: October 2010

Passion, Perfection… Obsession?

OK, so a big shocker, I‘ve been studying a lot lately. Like, really a lot, for a non-midterm/finals time, at least. This all week it actually was pretty much just this one subject – Physical Chemistry of Proteins (I‘m sorry, but what kind of scientist I would be if I didn‘t throw in at least a couple big words). That‘s the toughest class this semester. I have a lot of trouble understanding it. So much so that at times I‘m actually at a loss as to how formulate a question to ask the teacher when something is unclear. And not understanding something is one of the things I hate most. And that makes me angry. And then a funny thing happens. I can‘t stand the situation, so I need to remedy that. Since I don‘t give up on things I really care about (like my studies), the only way out for me is studying. Studying. And then studying some more. Sometimes going as far back as the very basic concepts of the subject and working my way up, until I can at least formulate a coherent question to the teacher. That‘s what I‘ve been doing this whole week. I actually couldn‘t wait for other classes to be over so I could go home and study. I‘m glad I did it, however, because it paid off – I now have a pretty clear view as to what‘s actually happening in those classes and my head buzzing with questions (well, the latter isn‘t true – I try to keep my hard-drive uncluttered, so I just write all of the questions down so I don‘t need to think and remind myself of them until I can ask the teacher). Oh, but I‘ve got carried away there. Sorry. There‘s supposed to be a point in this, right?

It‘s pretty simple (yet, disturbing me slightly) – I‘m kind of obsessive. I‘m kind of glad (OK, really glad) when this trait of mine comes out in situations like I just described, because this anger, obsession and will power combo really works well for me when studying. However, I don‘t necessarily need anger. Most often the main driving force is this sort of perfectionism, this need (passion?) to know things (top marks make for a nice by-product and confirmation of my knowledge). On the other hand, doesn‘t this make me a little crazy? Especially when this obsessive thing rears its head in other areas of my life? Like, say, me liking to have all my clothes and my notes and even the plates in the cupboard just so. At one point tidiness (for the lack of a better word) turns to OCD? I guess, as long as it‘s not controlling me, I‘m OK, right?

Let me make a little side note on will power here. I have a friend who often tells me what amazing will power I have that I manage to make myself work on my studies so much. That is really flattering, but I‘m not sure how much credit my will power actually deserves. Often, I just can‘t help it – I have to study, because I have to learn, to know, to understand (that sounds so crazy now I say it!). However, sometimes, when it‘s not a really fascinating subject and there‘s a choice between studying that and doing something more enjoyable (even if it is studying something else), I need to pull together my will power too, but it‘s always aided by this strange want for perfection. OK, let‘s face it, it‘s not always the knowledge, I‘ve gotten a taste for top grades over the years too, and I like getting them. To my defence, however, I haven‘t been focusing on grades that much since I started university, because I came here to learn stuff that I find interesting, and often I even choose a harder subject which would mean worse grades just because I want to learn that stuff.

I guess some people would find it crazy – this want to reach perfection and the need to know more and more. I mean, perfection is like infinity – you can’t reach it. And yet, people, me included, try anyway. I think, we’re being smart, because we’re not setting limits to ourselves, and don’t need to waste time putting that hypothetical top step higher every time we reach it. Don’t get me wrong, I think, reachable goals are important, and I’d be a just a crazy mess without them, but for the ultimate goal something close to perfection in whatever area one works at is the best choice. However, in all this, I think, healthy view of things is of the utmost importance. For example, realising that a homework essay doesn’t need to be perfected to infinity. For one thing, if you try to make that essay perfect, you’ll probably fail at all the other homework assignments and won’t get any sleep, and who cares if it’s perfect anyway? Teachers have grading scales and this hypothetical perfect essay won’t get a better evaluation than one that just meets all the requirements. On the other hand, for a scientist to strive for something Nobel-prize-worthy, I think, is a good thing because that would be a really cool thing that could help make life easier for a lot of people (or something).

I like to chase rainbows,

Noodle.

P.S. Speaking of obsession, I’m way obsessed with Glee lately. Especially with this thing with Kurt and him getting a boyfriend. Can we have Kurt&Sam now, please?

A Quick Sketch On (My) Human Condition

So, I‘ve got this psychologist in my life, and she told me an interesting thing the other day. Apparently, it is important to say what you feel (and it’s important to say to other people if you appreciate them or whatever, ’cause that makes them feel good – but that’s another topic). And like an infinite amount of other things, it made me think. I‘ve been feeling very good lately. So good that it feels kind of strange (and makes me fear that it can‘t last for much longer, but that‘s yet another topic – forgive me, my mind is very jumpy tonight). Thus, my scientific mind, scientific that it is, got curious – what exactly it is that makes me smile during whole long commute home. And while trudging on the bus the other day, I figured it out. I must say it rather surprised me at first, but the more I think of it, the more natural it seems. I‘m in love. Simple as that. Though before anyone gets too excited, I should explain that I‘m using the word in its broadest possible sense. That is, it‘s not just romantic feelings that prevents one from sleeping and makes do crazy stuff (in fact, I think, that‘s the smallest part of my current good feeling), and not only family-love (even though I‘ve been getting some very nice family time too lately), but also love of the research I do and the lab where I work, classes I take, and even little harmless crushes on a professor or two. So, pretty much it‘s just a general love of my life.

Trying to understand why I feel so particularly happy now (’cause I generally have those loves going on at any given time), the only conclusion I can come up with is that it’s probably the first time in my life that I have so many things I love in my life all at once. Usually something happens that makes me spend a long time away from home and family or most of the classes happen to be boring that semester or there is something that makes working in a lab a stressful and not fun experience.

Upon looking into this further I find that in fact this love thing is something like my human condition (perhaps it is yours too, I don‘t know – is it?). I have to have it. If for some reason, I lose some of the little loves I feel, I become really miserable. I have to try to find a love for something in me again (even if it is a crush on a fictional character). Sometimes it‘s really hard though, but  it seems to always work out in the end.

Sitting on a pink cloud,

Noodle.

Tribute To Teachers

I don’t know how widely-spread this phenomenon is, but in this corner of the world, we have a special day/holiday dedicated to teachers. We call it cleverly enough Teacher’s Day. And on that day we do something nice to our teachers (and of course the teachers celebrate it themselves). Some schools go as far as giving teachers a sort of day off, and letting older students teach classes to the younger ones. Oh, and the day is the first Friday in October.

I think, I’ve been very fortunate to have many good teachers, even though as the years went past I started feeling more like an equal to them (instead of sometimes fearful admiration) and I found out that there are many other people to be admired. However, if it wasn’t for my awesome school teachers, I wouldn’t be the person I am now.

The pedantic ones taught me to make good notes. Even in my fourth year of university I still use my high school biology notes when I need to look something up quickly or sometimes even studying for exams.

There were also those who were always fostering discussion and letting us explore literature in unconventional ways – make up our own interpretations and even put characters on trial. I always try to look at things from different perspectives, which I think is very important for a scientist. And I get that from my lit classes. I think that’s awesome.

Some would make their classrooms feel more like hang-outs rather than places of formal education and let you hang out in there after classes and ask how it’s going. There probably wasn’t any particular benefit I could get from that, but it was just nice, and it’s all the nice time that matters in the end, isn’t it?

I also had those kind of teachers who are hated by most students. They’d drown us in homework and tests and give harsh grades. But in the end I hardly needed to study for my graduation exams and scored best marks. Whatever it takes, right? And it’s even better when it takes less of extra work from my side.

So, here’s to my favourite and less favourite teachers (because even though I didn’t like them that much, they appear to have liked me and that made my life at school so much more pleasant), because they can do some pretty awesome stuff. Thanks!