Change Me As We Go

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Archive for the category “adaptation”

What’s Your Gobi – Part II

I was just reading an article on Forbes.com “How To Change Your Brain For The Better” and one of the captions started with “to become more resilient […]”. That word rang a bell and it suddenly hit me.

Running when you don’t feel like it, when you feel you can’t anymore. Stretching your limits beyond what you thought was sane. Running beyond reason. Running against your will. Running for the sake of forcing your mind to do so. That thought has been roaming in my head ever since Stefan Danis’ TEDxToronto talk but I only found it now. (If you haven’t seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D6sNeqwgbc)

I found my Gobi. But instead of running, it’s about staying. Instead of doing, it’s about restraining from doing things I would regret. Instead of giving into the temptation of destructive behaviour that would satisfy me in the moment, I have to keep my cool. I’ve been rejected. I’ve been let down. I’ve even been betrayed. I’ve been cornered in to a lose-lose situation. Instead of physical pain, emotional distress. The Gobi’s 50% physical and 50% mental. My Gobi seems to be 100% mental. My Gobi is to stay. To stick to my words rather than my feelings. To fight every battle because I believe in the dream. To keep going until I reach the impossible.

Instead of 7 marathons, life has thrown me a few rocks that have hit hard. But I stubbornly kept marching ahead. It hit my heart, my health, my creativity, my confidence, it hit it all. But I kept marching on. Not out of strength really. I just didn’t know how to stop. At one point, I felt like I was exploding. I wanted to run away to Alaska or something equally remote, and not have to talk to anyone for a month. Just me, fresh air, and music.  Of course, that never happened. Perhaps it will at the end of the 7th mental marathon. But we’re still at #3.

Shortening the gap between a negative event and opportunity. I’ve been working on that from day 1. Some people get there in a day, or in a month. I thought I was that kind of person. But instead of getting to acceptance, I tried to skip ahead to opportunities. It’s time to get to it now as unpleasant as it is. Acceptance. Resilience. It might seem paradoxical, but resilience comes from accepting vulnerability.

Stefan Danis: if you read this blog, thank you for inspiring people to find the strength in themselves to dust themselves up and fight their own little demons for a brighter future.

Identity

This blog is inspired by the course I’m taking on Organizational Behaviour… Today we talked about individual differences, culture, personal and social identity. I realized that my identity was very hard to pinpoint. Call it complex/unclear/inexistent if you wish:

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about different cultures, especially about my own. Cultures/ethnic groups I associate with: mauritian (mix of indian, chinese, french, english, african), canadian (whatever that is), chinese (island version). In Mauritius, I’m considered Chinese. In Canada, the white people say I’m Asian. Asians think I’m African. Africans think I’m Asian. Chinese think I’m not Chinese. I don’t really care. I think race/ethnicity and all that stuff is just useless things humans came up with that adds unnecessary discrimination and drama. But such is human nature.

I’ve also learned a lot about social groups. I’m a musician and a computer scientist. Typical musicians, I’m told, are expected to party hard, get drunk, sometimes smoke a thing or two, and idolize the rock star lifestyle. To my musician friends, I’m the computer nerd. I don’t get drunk/smoke/want to live the rockstar life. To my computer science buddies, I’m often seen as the musician, the artsy one. I’m probably looked down upon by some of them for that (and for being female) but who cares. The point is, again, I don’t know how to identify myself. Am I more of a musician or a computer scientist or none? And does my opinion even matter? Or do people just care about how THEY categorize me? I think it’s the latter.

I used to think that I’m an extrovert because I like being on stage and performing under the spotlight. I was wrong. I like being on the stage, alone (or with few people) , away from the crowd that could otherwise overwhelm me/ turn me into a doormat. I used to think I’m a pretty social person, the life of the party, but I realized that it doesn’t apply to parties of more than 5 or 6 🙂 Even introverts are social with people they know well. I used to think I loved parties but I’ve come to realize that I enjoy deep abstract conversations more. I used to want to belong but now I value difference. I’m not sure whether I changed or I just discovered more about myself.

Some people tell me I’m too nice, too selfless, that I take too much time listening to others vent. They even say I should stop making other people’s problems mine and being overly concerned about them. Many people have thanked me for being such a supportive, honest and caring friend. Yet, some people have told me that I’m a terrible friend (well very very few, but still, it hurts). It made me wonder whether I really am this terrible human being. I’m still not sure of the answer. Instinctively, I try to be as good a friend as I can. But I suppose as a human, there are areas of friendship where I can improve that I don’t even know of (until someone hates me for it). I’m not perfect, I know it. No one is. That doesn’t mean I’m not working on it. Working on it doesn’t mean I won’t fail.

The artist and the scientist in me have been debating all my life, but now I think they might not be polarities at all. At the end of the day, music is mathematical and so is computer science. It does make sense. Computer science is actually a very creative field and more CS students than you think are hobby artists. I also know very tech savvy musicians. The skill sets do complement each other. But at the end of the day, I will have to choose one. The past few years, I wanted to choose music, but the geek in me is rising again and I’m now more passionate about CS than ever. I really want to bite the bullet and dig into those intense courses and catch up. I do believe that human-computer interaction will allow me to leverage my creative energy and logical skills to make the world a better place. But is it too late? NO. I don’t believe in “too late”. I don’t believe in giving up.

Back home, I used to think I’m smart and that I had a bright future ahead. When I came to the University of Toronto, I was quickly overshadowed by people who were way more experienced in the field and I got intimidated. I felt dumb and my academic self-confidence took a blow. Perhaps that is why I turned to music. But after taking a year off to work as a programmer, I’ve had time to think. I still believe I’m a below average programmer, I have very little experience compared to most people in my program. But I’ve changed my mindset, and I believe I have potential to be a successful computer scientist if I work hard at it a few more years. I have rekindled my curiosity for the subject and learned to compete only with myself.

All in all, four years of university abroad does give you plenty of opportunity to grow up psychologically and professionally. It also forces you to survive on less sleep than you thought was possible 😛 I believe that I did a decent job of adapting and that my pro-change attitude has had a lot to do with it. Let’s see what the future bring. Now I’m off to read some Machine Learning (academic suicide 101 for the math-weary student).

A Train of Change


Every time I get out of the subway and the train starts to leave, I rush to the wall or look away because it makes me somewhat dizzy. You know when the train is passing by and there’s a rush of wind and for a few seconds you wait for it to stop, and then continue with your day? Well, right now, it feels like this to me. Except that each wagon is a change to my life, and the train is that of change. It’s passing me real quick right now and I’m just kinda waiting for it to be gone so that things can be stable again. So that I can open my eyes again without worrying about dust stinging them. So that I don’t feel dizzy anymore.

I’ve always been pro-change and I encourage people to embrace it in my songs and posts. I do embrace it quite gracefully myself most of the time. But for the first time in ages, I just feel like I wanna go back in time and not deal with this. Change is scary. Especially when it means changing your lifestyle, your schedule, your environment (whether work or home), your social role and relationship with other people… And sometimes, we don’t realize it but other people are also affected by this train passing us by.

We jump in and accept that there will be changes because we believe that this change is necessary and its benefits will eventually outweigh the adaptation costs. And we hope that those around us will be there to support us despite these costs. Sometimes it’s not possible. Everyone has their own responsibilities overriding the importance of changes. This sometimes makes me feel overwhelmed. It makes me worry about the future and how my relationship with friends, relatives, etc will be affected and what I should do in order to preserve these precious relationships. The point is, despite all my pro-change talk, I’m still petrified by it sometimes. But I’m moving forward, because there is no way back.

After talking about it to someone I hold dear, I’ve figured out a way to maybe make it less overwhelming. Like reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while, or getting a few good friends to help with little non-demanding things. Like going shopping together. Just interacting with people itself might be a good way of changing my perspective of things, taking the focus AWAY from my state of prolonged panic/helplessness as the train whooshes by for what seems like an eternity.

I really wish that someone in particular could be here to help me with it right now, but that is not really possible. I’ll just have to deal with it otherwise. If someone can’t help, others might. That particular person told me “Maybe you’re focused on the fact that I can’t be there, and you don’t see all the other people that are there for you in your life”. I guess it’s true. I’ve been trying to adapt to “the train” for a few weeks now, and it’s still the hardest thing ever. It’s still painful and frustrating and takes a toll on me every day. There are many a day when I feel like I’ll never see the end of the tunnel. But then I mentally shove myself into action and, instead of complaining, I try to accomplish small things that will bring me closer to that far away, almost invisible goal.

I know that I have to keep believing and keep pushing forward. It’s hard. But I can do it. I will.

Have you ever/ are you facing a train of change right now? If so, how did you/ how are you coping with it?

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