Another year gone

If someone had told me eight years ago that I would start dating my future husband in a few hours, I would have thought they were crazy.

If someone had told me four years ago that I would become totally fascinated with birds, I would have been skeptical to say the least.

If someone had told me a year ago that I would be accepted to a funded master’s program within the week, I don’t think I would have believed them.

Moral of the story: no matter how much we think we know, life is unpredictable.

At the end of each year, I think it’s important to reflect, at least briefly, on where life has taken us. After all, it is difficult to know where you want to go if you don’t take stock of where you’ve already been. This year brought more changes than most. Wyatt got a job, I moved to Pennsylvania, I got through a pilot study and a whole semester of graduate school. An insane election went by, with an outcome that has me worried about the future of the country I live in. This year was crazy. Sometimes it was stressful. Other times it was oddly boring.

During it all, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Perhaps the biggest change I’ve noticed in myself is that I’ve become more independent than I thought I ever would. Suddenly, every move I make is for one person: me. I choose how I spend every minute of every day outside of classes. I decide what to cook, what to eat. I’ve learned to enjoy hiking and festivals and shopping alone, when at one point I might have found it weird to go to a public place without a friend. I’ve always been a relatively solitary person, but during the last eight months I’ve learned to truly enjoy my own company (though I can’t forget that I do have my cat to keep me from getting too lonely). It’s been a hard transition, but I think I’m better for it.

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My Pennsylvania BFF

As a scientist, I would  like to think that I’ve grown tremendously. I’ve gotten better at taking criticism – even though I still get a knot in my stomach when I send out something I’ve written, at least the logical part of my brain is there telling me it isn’t total crap no matter how many comments I get back. Thanks to a wonderful class I took (and some of those comments on my writing), I feel much more confident that I can design a reasonably good study. My next goal is to become more confident in sharing my thoughts and ideas in lab meetings and classes. Hopefully by next  year’s post I will be able to list that as a personal improvement.

This year has certainly made me a different person than I was before, hopefully a little better one in some ways. I’m sure in a few more, I’ll look back on this blog post and reminisce about my two years in Pennsylvania, and the vividness of the journey will have worn away. Today, however, I am grateful for where 2016 has taken me.

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