Saturday, July 1, 2017

Exploring Oneself Through the Lens of Academia

            Food, work, gym, sleep, repeat. Unless it’s basketball season, in which case watching as many games as possible is thrown into the mix. I’d give reading its own spot if it weren’t for the fact that 99% of it ends up being related to one of the aforementioned facets of my life.  It’s a simple life and I thoroughly enjoy keeping it that way, mainly because it makes for optimal efficacy in each component. Every part receives my complete effort, especially food, and that in itself enables me to maintain a laser focus on any and every task (or meal) that I take on.
As much as I have always trained my mind as a motivated apprentice of academia, I have maintained a matching focus on training my body to be just as honed to its own goals. Being an athlete for the majority of my life has instilled in me a sense of discipline that I highly value and that has been largely responsible for my successes thus far. I have leaned on discipline throughout these past three weeks and in turn it has kept everything in perspective, never letting me forget that I’m here because this is an opportunity that I feel strongly about. My interest in research was born from a desire to always strive to be at my best, and research seemed like the ideal path to take having undertaken the challenge of university. This past week has further reaffirmed that notion, and I have genuinely felt and continue to feel a fresh wave of inspiration every time I learn something new about my own project or that of another student’s.
            However, I am slightly concerned by how close that type of inspiration is coming to equaling the type that I feel every time I chow down on a meal. There’s just something about fueling the body and mind with what simply comes down to different combinations of carbohydrates, fats, and protein that moves me to feel galvanized and born again. In a way, that’s also how I’ve been feeling following a successful learning experience or finishing another portion of the research project. Coming into this REU with no substantial academic experience outside of the classroom, every step feels like an enlightening revelation just like every meal feels like a renewed faith in life. So come to think of it, I’ve really had quite the summer thus far, with no end in sight for the next five weeks.
            Even the good experiences are accompanied by negatives though, albeit in the not-so-devastating and sort of still rewarding form of tiredness. Some days just really wring me out, but I’ve found myself reveling in that feeling of weariness following a good day’s work. Like in athletics, sometimes tiredness is a sign of a solid day’s worth of investing in yourself. After all, this REU, like an exercise regimen or the pursuit of a college degree, is an investment in oneself and, more importantly, in others; I wouldn’t feel right leaving the research center in the evening if I couldn’t honestly say that I had earned another few steps in the right direction, for myself and everyone involved in LAKES or affected by its goals as a research program.

Once it’s time to turn in for the day though, the vital practice of sleeping graciously comes into play. The sweet relief of recuperation of the mind and body prepares us for many fruitful days to come, and it also makes for a great hobby!

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