Winds of Change: 365-361 days to go

Let me start off with a short disclaimer. This post might turn out to be a little morose since that’s the turn my life has taken. And I know that we humans don’t like reading dark, sad, self-deprecating prose (poems seem to be fine).

The thing that caused me the greatest amount of sadness is not the failure in my porn recovery programme I experienced a week ago. The greatest source of sadness for me is looking back and seeing the bad choices I made in my study programme. I made some pretty poor ones.

  1. I embarked this programme knowing that I did not possess the set of skills needed to make a success of it. The programme requires me to program computer models.
  2. I did not take the time to evaluate if this study was actually what I wanted to do. I wasn’t.
  3. I became notorious for breaking stuff even though I was not the one who broke them. I merely reported. Although I had my fair share of breakage. I broke a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) machine when I left the pumps on water for two weeks. I forgot that they should be left on methanol if they remain idle for such a long time. The pumps rusted. We waited three months for the technician to come and fix the machine.
  4. It seemed like a dark cloud hung over everything I did and that people always scrutinised and judged me badly. Of course this wasn’t true but that was my reality.
  5. Whenever I dealt with the drug discovery realm I became energised while my field of study drained me. There were certain experiments that gave me energy, but then I would soon lose my fire.
  6. Because of this cloud that seemed to follow everywhere, I never felt at home in the lab. I always felt like I belonged somewhere else. I had bought into the belief that things should just come come naturally or flow if you had talent and were meant to do something. This was not the case in the lab even during undergrad.
  7. I became lazy with updating my lab book. Don’t let me get started on this point! Principly-speaking, I have two record books: a note book in which I recorded all my activities in the lab on a daily basis and a lab book which is the official, prettier version of the note book. I’ve kept the former up to date but not the latter due to the cloud that hangs over my head.
  8. My pride and my desire to be intelligent–false bravado, if you will–kept me from asking for help when I should have and caused me to ask for help when it wasn’t necessary.
  9. When my MSc class was given to option to choose to remain on the old system where you’ll only be graded on your thesis, I chose to be on the new system. In the new system, you are graded on your lab book, progress report presentations, defence, thesis, and a couple of other things. I feel stupid for choosing the new system thinking that it would motivate me to excel. The choice had the opposite effect. The pressure on me makes me want to run away.
  10. I just feel like I have a bad reputation in the department and that I am incapable of changing people’s perceptions. Because no matter what you do, people will always think the worst of you. (I’m using a lot of superlatives . . . )
  11. All of these choices and perceptions culminated in losing the respect of my supervisors. And that is the hard pill to swallow for me.
  12. I’m also worried that my thesis won’t make the cut. In my opinion, the number of aspects of my thesis resemble an undergraduate science project. I don’t have a lot of positive results and need to do three kinds of experiments with good results to have a solid thesis. Therefore I need time in the lab and for the organisms to grow well.
  13. Another reason for the preceding worry is that the subject of my thesis forms part of a larger work. Because my study is a subsidiary of the larger study and was partially (and could easily have been) covered by another student, I feel as if my study is almost worthless. I’m afraid of talking about this view because I fear how it will be received by my supervisors and support network. They might think that I am narrow minded, unintelligent, or stupid for thinking like that. I’m also afraid of being right. The rock and the hard place.

I’ve felt like quitting my master’s programme many times, but because I see myself as a fighter I push through. There’s no doubt about it, I’m a people pleaser. I’ve made peace with that fact. So, disappointing my supervisors saddens me greatly. Yet my disposition to prove myself and to work autonomously seems to counter-act my people pleasing disposition. More often than not, I am caught between a rock and a hard place, not knowing which principle to follow. My analytical mind goes into overdrive as I play out various scenarios to determine which course of action will be best. I pray to God and ask family and friends for advice, but only when I can’t find a win-win scenario.

(I’m trying to keep things light here.)

I’m still not done with my literature review because I’m still figuring out where I will go with the computational part of my study. This worries, saddens and stresses me because I disappointed my supervisors again.

Where do I go from here? What do I do?

Writing is my passion. I’m not a good fiction writer because of my decision to not read fiction. But that all changed a few weeks ago, when I realised that not all fiction is bad. I guess the reason why I was drawn to erotica (which involved sex and/or embarrassing moments) was due to the story element. So, I never stopped reading stories. I just stopped reading the good kind of fiction opting to fill my mind with bad, filthy fiction. Now I am learning to read, analyse, and write good fiction.

I’ve also decided to become a technical writer. It offers more career options than science writing. And I’m definitely not science journalism material. When the pressure becomes too much, I zone out, my performance drops, and I read up on topics that interest me. I run away for a time. I lose my fire.

I took time out to flesh out my dream to be a published author. Initially I thought of publishing devotionals, short stories, op-eds, and book reviews on a website under my real name using social media to attract traffic to the blog.

Yesterday (day 362), however, I realised that it’s a lot of work and that it’s not the best way to get your name out there. So, what I will be doing is write those pieces and submit them to websites and blogs for publication. They will be rejected, that’s a given. But the whole process will train me to be a good author of non-technical writing.

To write good fiction I will have to improve my ability to write descriptively. I always sucked at descriptive writing even at school mainly because I didn’t understand its importance in narrative writing. I’ve always been good with plots. (There I go tooting my own horn again!) I don’t know whether I’m a plotter or not, because I enjoyed sitting and seeing the plot develop as I wrote.

Amid all the uncertainty of the future, of my failures and successes, perceptions and attitudes, three things are true: (1) I want to be a widely published, well-renowned author of fiction and non-fiction work; (2) I want to bring glory to God with my talents and abilities; and (3) I want to inspire, encourage, and uplift people through my writing as well as make them laugh with my wicked sense of humour–believe it or not.

Although I don’t have answers to all my question and although I don’t know where I will find myself in 10 years’ time, let alone knowing with who, I know that God will work things out for my good and that of others.

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