Out of My Element

out of my element

What do you do when you feel your life is becoming stagnant?  I am 20 years old and my sophomore year in college is half way done.  I already spend too much time conjuring up fantasies that I think I should be having, where there is always an adventure to be had, incredibly interesting people to meet, and a whirlwind romance.  Of course most people don’t lead this kind of life, but I can’t help but wonder if it does exist.

I started my first few days of 2013 with not the best attitude – I was becoming restless from sitting at home in South Florida and I dreaded returning to school to have the same boring routine I had fall semester.  I wanted to have something exciting to look forward to everyday, or at least to be busy enough where I wouldn’t think about being bored.  I mostly wanted to be able to look at each day and see something special or intriguing in it.

I asked for some excitement in my life, and boy did I get it!  Spring semester began this week and I had just been given a research position working with leukemia cells.  I show up to the lab on Monday and am taught many procedures and experiments that we will be conducting in the next few months.  There were new people to meet, equipment I have no idea how to use, and tons of publications to read with terminology that can’t possibly be English.  I was extremely overwhelmed and completely out of my element.  I have never been more intimidated in my life, and yet I haven’t been this excited about something in ages.  As stressful as this semester will be to find time to balance difficult classes, research, and maybe sleep once in a while, this was exactly what I wanted and what I need.

I realized that as sudden as all of this seemed to creep up on me, I do have to give myself credit for taking the initiative to go out there and find something new and exciting to do with my life.  A new research position contained everything I had wished for; a challenging activity, new people to meet, and the certainty of never having a dull moment.

Although this week hasn’t even ended yet, I have learned a few valuable things:

Do not be afraid to ask questions: I have always been a prideful person and would sometimes avoid asking a question because I didn’t want to appear unintelligent to anybody.  That is a foolish thing to do and the only way you can learn and grow is by asking questions.  There really is no dumb question and people in face appreciate your questions because it shows you are truly interested and committed.

Do not let intimidation control you: Most of us take advantage of the comforts we usually have where we are aware of our surroundings, and understand everything that is going on around us at any point in time.  Stepping out of your element can indeed strip you of all your comforts.  Instead of shying away and being afraid of the unknown, embrace the challenges you are facing and just know that in time you will understand things you never thought you could before.

You really need to work for something you love:  Like myself and many others out there, most things in life have come fairly easy to us, and I for one have certainly taken that for granted.  Until recently, I have understood everything I was taught almost instantly and did not really need to study for long periods of time to do well on tests.  However, that glory of being successful without effort becomes meaningless and unfulfilling.  When you find something that intrigues you, let it suck you in completely and work harder than you ever have before.  The feeling you get when a lightbulb finally turns on in your head and you understand something beats any easy A I have ever achieved.

I have a good feeling that this semester, and even year will definitely be an adventure for all of us. We just have to remember to appreciate the opportunities given to us and to make the best of them!



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