There are many things you cannot do when one of your arms, and unfortunately your dominant one, is in a sling. Sleeping is uncomfortable. I replaced chopsticks with a fork so that I could eat with my left hand. Washing my hair, and the rest of my body, with one hand means oilier hair and some unshaved places. I can’t finish learning All of Me on the guitar. Changing is cumbersome. The slightest weight put on my right arm aches the the loose joint – even the weight of my own arm. When your arm is in a sling, your eyes work a little harder to keep you from bumping into the wall. Your core thrusts a little harder to balance yourself when you get up. Your left hand becomes a savior. Life becomes annoyingly, but not impossibly, more difficult.
Each part of the body is interconnected. When a part of the body is healing, the rest pay a small price. When it is back to 100%, the rest can breathe easier and resume its normal machinery of being the fearless, thriving beast of a human body. And I realize that just as much as a dislocated shoulder is linked to my eyes working harder, my back hurting from sleep, my core strengthening to compensate, and my overlooked left hand stepping up, these walking, thriving beasts are just as interconnected with each other as are the seemingly isolated parts of the human body. People thrive from relationships. Through the years, academic and career successes may mark milestones, but our intricate network of and deepness of relationships with friends, families, professors, bosses, crushes, doctors, TAs, the guy who knows your order at Jamba Juice, define the journey.
This year was the first time I took the time to get to know some of my professors. While I had always “never had time” or “never had questions” to go seek professors at office hours, I realized, those weren’t the main gateways into getting to know them. Immersing yourself to a subject and truly growing to love it – all the annoying readings, the nitty gritty details, the failed midterms…, will get you to know them naturally. Because then, you will have questions, you will be curious, you will e-mail them with random thoughts and propose ideas during class. As someone who studies the hard science, all of that has been difficult. I memorize things. I compete with others. The goal isn’t to love the subject, it’s to do better than that kid next to me. But hey, it’s senior year, so I tried to learn for the sake of learning. For the sake of trying to feel the same rush, joy, and intrigue my professors had for the subjects they devoted their lives to. When pressure of grades didn’t narrow my vision, the random questions and thoughts popped in. When I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw articles, photographs, and debates that caught my eye, I sent them a quick e-mail simply to speak my mind. I sought conversations, not lectures.
Most people know that I rock climb. With my dad. Whether it’s indoors or out, we belay each other and hike through steep hills of bushes and mud to find routes. My dad and I have had an awkward relationship for God knows how long. It’s always been a private and deep goal of mine to reignite the father-daughter spark that I see so many of my friends sharing. For years growing up, my dad left early dawn and came home late at night to support my family. The commute was long, the weekends were short, and he ended up getting a boat (yes a boat) to sleep in so that he wouldn’t have to make the hours of commute to and from work. Weekends were the only times I saw him, but during teenage years of sleepovers and malls, and high school years of studying my ass off (how did I ever work that hard?!), weekends turned to a few minutes of “hi” and “bye.” Relationships have never been a priority in my family. My parents worked. My brother moved out when I was in middle school. I had my friends. With every new years resolution, I write in small print mend my family back together before it’s too late, take a family portrait. Our last family portrait was when I was in diapers. Whether its cultural or circumstantial, forming relationships has always fallen through the cracks. And I know if anyone is going to initiate it, it’s going to be me. So with my hobby of climbing, which my dad had as well some 10 years ago, came a newfound, slowly building connection with my dad. It’s still awkward as hell, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to, need to, take.
And lastly, the pals. The friends I get sentimental with, complain about MCAT with, watch the sunset with, get drunk with, bake cookies with, brave the traffic of LA with, cry with, and everything in between. I know some incredible people. Some may not know, but I had been in a sorority. And some may also not know, I disaffiliated this year for personal reasons – and this marks one of the most difficult things I’ve done this year. I joined with doubts as a freshman, plagued with the cliché stereotypes, and ended up meeting some of the realest, empathetic, and driven ladies I will ever know. For this reasons, dropping was painful. I felt like I was betraying them, and I thank this wonderful organization for giving me priceless gifts of friendships, which came with laughters, tears, hazy magical nights, endless studying nights, sunrises, lessons, and stories.
My research pals this year not only helped isolate a cool new virus and amuse me with spot on impersonations and jokes, but more importantly taught me the strength of teamwork. 8 months could have been a nightmare, but instead, it truly showed me how people can make or break you. No matter what you end up doing in life, people have a synergistic affect. You will go so much further with the ideas, critiques, lessons, and interdependence of your fellow colleagues, doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc. While it takes patience and tolerance from us proud-to-be-independent young adults, so much more can be achieved (and probably happiness), if every single task isn’t defined by competition. As Sarah Kay said, there are many front lines in the same war.
Come senior year, my pals of apartment 410. All the late nights I came home to trays of baked cookies, guitar jams, random youtube videos and the never ending sink of dishes. There is not a more perfect group of pumpkin bumpkins I would rather live with. There is not a better crew to swifter wipe the disgusting apartment floor with after (the best) party ever with essence of it still remaining through decorations, memories, injuries…Sitting on our free couches together, I randomly have existential thoughts about our youthful years, how I wish they would never end. And I realize, no matter where you go to work, how stressed you are studying, or what shit goes down in life, you truly need the right people to come home to, whether that be a loving family, a significant other, or the pumpkin bumpkins of 410.
And the people who filled up the cracks along the way. The guy at Jamba Juice who knows I always get Apple n Greens. My fellow hip-coffee-shop-loving yogi. My disabilities studies TA I complained to about all the readings that frustrated me. My ER doctor who e-mailed me later to check up on me. The girl who passed free shots at the bar that one night. The one guy. That one night.
2015, you have been a true journey. It continues.