When I reflect on my life at the moment, I experience a wave of awe, gratitude, and at the same time disbelief at how truly happy I am.
My life is not at all remarkable. I’m not exactly sure how I appear from outside, but I imagine as struggling or “lost,” in light of social expectations for someone of my age, experience, and privilege. But actually, that doesn’t matter to me. What does matter to me are the spectacular failures, false starts, and other struggles I’ve caused and weathered. I spent a lot of time in therapy trying to understand them (and I’m glad I did). If I could honestly and without bias write my life story to this point, it would be uncomfortable for readers. Who was it that said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”? I think it is a Buddhist proverb (which now sounds like a sports apparel ad). Well, I suffered for some time. And I don’t blame anyone, not even myself. It’s just the way God made me (as I like to say) and thankfully I’ve been able to let go of that habit, to a great extent. Occasionally I hear about people in situations that I can relate to but are no longer defining. This precipitates a strange and uncomfortable feeling, since it’s difficult for me to contemplate the validity of a harmful habit I used to be shackled to. I hope I will be able to better understand my limitations and work through them, because I want to have more compassion not only for others but also for myself. Perhaps I’m not being fair, perhaps I am forgetting. I should say: it was real, but I am on the other side of it.
The joy and satisfaction I feel every day is, to me, truly remarkable. I have always been curious and conscientious, and I could well be as satisfied in another field, but I sense the importance of what I am studying now in human-centered computing–AND it’s just plain FUN–and I think that is a critical element. I’m grateful for every little thing that led me here.
Another thing I want to say is that I am amazed that doors finally began to open for me in my work in this field. It was unexpected. I am so grateful to just be given a chance that I could cry. I don’t know whether others feel this way when it happens for them, and certainly it’s not something people talk about often. I imagine it is a bit unique to me at this point in time, because I am at a place where I can really appreciate it whereas at another time I would not have been able. I just hope that if I work hard and am lucky, one day I will be able to open doors for others.
For the first time, I feel like I have something to lose because I love what I have so much. I love what I am doing and the support and encouragement I have as a student. As I work on my thesis and begin applying to PhD programs, this is particularly terrifying. When I received my first response from a professor whose work I admire greatly about how she is not accepting new students next year, I cried for two days. I hadn’t realized just how much this all meant to me! I will try to make my way because this work makes me happy and because, I pray, I can make a positive difference in the world through it, but I also know that I am strong and resilient, and that whatever happens I will find a way to make meaningful contributions and satisfy my creative and intellectual needs.