143 – Conflicted

I (1) love (4) you (3). Can’t unsee the number to word association.

It’s been a while.

Lots has happened, though much of it isn’t very interesting is talk about/reflect on.

Last week was really rough. A cup of coffee on Monday led to a two-day long migraine. Couldn’t function with it. Slept through most of it. I suspect a bad reaction to coffee…but I’ll need to see a doctor about it to confirm.

Next week promises to be worse with 2 assignments and 2 final exams (in-class ones). The joys of university.

Amidst the past few chaotic weeks, some thoughts have come to mind that I thought were important to address as they may prove essential to my attitude towards others.

And these thoughts mostly have to do with my less academically-achieving/driven friends. I don’t like to group them up under this label as I think they’re all brilliant in different ways and they’re awesome people to be around, but in order to address these thoughts, I have to highlight the source of my inner conflict. As someone who went through high school with academically driven friends (through IB and Middle Years & with friends in the regular program that tended to get more As and Bs than Cs), I’ve more or less been ingrained that anything less than an A is just not good enough. Because of this mentality, I’m not sure how to react when my friends are happy with getting a B/passing. On one camp, I’m happy for them since they’re satisfied with that level of achievement. On the other hand, I have this nudging feeling that if I express elation from such a grade in others that I too will become complacent with a grade below my expectations.

The best way I’ve found to counteract this problem is to simply not make comparisons between myself and others and to instead, focus on self-comparisons. Therefore, instead of thinking “I could’ve done just as well as them if I tried harder”, I try to redirect my thoughts to be more in line with “I could do better than I did last time if I studied harder” or “I didn’t do as well as I normally did – this needs more work”.

For most cases, this solution seems to solve the issue – I applaud others for their personal success while working towards my own.

However, in situations that are more limiting, I feel conflicted.

That research opportunity that I missed the deadline for? I got in. By pure luck, the undergrad advisor accepted my late application. If it were any other situation, I wouldn’t even be considered. But I made it. This made me beyond happy on Thursday as it was a nice gift at the end of a rough week. In my excitement, I posted in our Facebook chat that I got in. But instead of “me too!”, all I got was “grats :)”. This implies to me that my friends didn’t get in despite the fact that they actually handed their application in time. Or they may have gotten in and were just happy for me. The latter I have no problem with but the thought of the former does.

Because the former just seems a little unfair. Obviously, I’m thankful for the opportunity and am not about to bite the hand that feeds me, but I also feel uneasy because I was given this despite my disadvantage.

In the end, I’ve decided to take it as I deserve the opportunity despite my mistake and not think too much of it. I’d much rather focus on whose lab I want to have my experience in. 🙂

[As an aside: watching Lee Sedol take a game off of AlphaGo gave me jitters for hours after the stream had ended…(and through my sleep). It’s so inspiring to see someone of such calibre putting everything they have into a game with odds against them. I think that’s a very beautiful thing – the ability for humans to give their all even if it’s a losing battle. That’s something I don’t think machines will ever have as they will give up once the probability of winning becomes lower than a certain threshold. It’s foolish to fight difficult battles – but in many cases, it’s well worth it.]

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