Well, join the club!
I’m not talking about the self-indulgent kind of “feeling good”, none of the Godiva Chocoiste Dark Chocolate with Raspberry melt-in-your-mouth ecstasy, or the sleeping for 12 hours straight and waking up dazed kind of contentment. I’m talking about feeling good from deep, deep down: that spine-tingling sensation you get from knowing that you have power, control, and personal freedom. It comes from realizing that you have the ability to change anything and everything, that you are a leader of your own life, that you are here to leave a legacy.
I must admit, it took a bit of time and a lot of effort for me to achieve this kind of spiritual high. When I felt unsure of my capabilities, my intelligence and my place in this school, let alone in this world, it’s not surprising that I often felt discouraged. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always felt like somehow I just wasn’t good enough. I’m sure we’ve all had those down moments when we hopelessly exclaimed “But everyone else has their ‘thing’ and I don’t have my thing!” Or maybe, like me, you’ve always known what it is that you are good at, but just never really took it seriously because to you, it’s just not that big a deal.
It took me 4 years of high school and 2 years in university to finally realize that we are all so precious, so special in each of our own ways. People always ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Before you say “42” or “to pass down your genes by having loads of hot sex” or quote Camus, think about yourself and what you want out of life. What are some things you do that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling deep down inside? For me, I love to talk to people and help them in whatever way I can. Sometimes it entails mentoring, sometimes it’s to help a friend through tough times, sometimes it’s as little as giving directions to a stranger on the street. That pretty much gives my life meaning. They are pretty small things, possibly petty, but so what? If I weren’t at a particular place at a particular time, people’s lives would’ve been forever different from how they are now.
From doing these little things that make you feel great, one day you’ll suddenly realize that you are actually a person of immense value. You’d start walking down the street feeling fine, thinking: “Hey! I’m pretty damn important”. Now would be the time to start dreaming big and living big.
The reason I’m writing about this whole schbeal, is that last week I sat in on a WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) event, called “Leadership Legacy: Defining Your Vision and Values for Success “. While I think it would be pretty dry and uninspiring to regurgitate here all of the notes I’ve taken during the seminar, I nevertheless wanted to share with you what I’ve gained from the experience. On my way back home from the seminar, I just felt so good! It was a mixture of this positive view of myself, some newly gained confidence, as well as a kind of ambition that made me so excited about the rest of my life that my heart actually beat faster. I realized that I’m still very much in the game to live the most awesome and worthwhile life ever, despite that now it no longer involves endlessly competing with others–and trust me, this is a huge step in terms of spiritual growth, because getting over this competitive mindset is nearly impossible if you are a Life Science undergrad at UofT. In retrospect, each one of our lives has been and always will be different from others, so what’s there to compete for? It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Like a lot of other students my age, I’m still trying to figure out the exact direction I’d want to pursue after graduation, but what feels so good is that my life is no longer about all the greatness that everyone else appears to be, but rather, it’s about me now; me and my core values that will guide me whatever I choose to do, wherever I go.
Before I end the post, I want to share with you with a visualization exercise that you can do in the comfort of your own home. It’s called the “Receiving an Award” exercise, courtesy of Deborah Austin, the speaker at the seminar. Basically, close your eyes, and imagine that you are in a beautiful auditorium the size of Con Hall. Thousands of eyes are on you, including those that you love the most–your parents, friends, past teachers and others who have inspired you in the past, who helped you become the person you are today. You are alone on a brightly lit stage with one other person, and he or she is presenting an award to you. Think about the award: what would it be about? Or better, what is it (The Pulitzer, the Nobel Prize, the Oscar, etc)? What does it look like? How would you feel when you are receiving it? Write down your thoughts because it’s important to dare to dream. Reflect on it often, and who knows, you might just achieve it one day.
Finally, before I go off to finish my paper on Drosophila melanogaster tube morphogenesis, I leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Maya Angelou:
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”