Now that I have actually found a job and the possibility of leaving school after my master’s degree suddenly becomes non-negative, I start to feel increasingly nostalgic about the many good things of being a grad student: getting up late, missing classes if you wish to :P, playing cards with friends in the empty library on Saturday nights, staying up late to program a RS decoder that finally worked(!), finishing homeworks after homeworks and feeling proud of myself … (do I sound sick? sorry!). I also enjoyed TAing and explaining things to the fellow students, from which I learned tremendously about the subject myself (why didn’t I ask for a TAship in the first year? hehe)…
I still would rather stay to finish a phD though. This year I start to feel increasingly interested in my course work and feel more comfortable with my life at Caltech. At some point last year, I was really disillusioned and depressed. Didn’t feel like going to lab everyday, dreaded group meetings and conversations with my advisor. Many things worked against me to destroy my confidence. I thank CC and my beloved friends for supporting me through those days of darkness and confusion. I owe them my deepest gratitude.
Looking back now I feel that leaving my previous research group (although I totally didn’t wish so) was indeed the best thing that happened to me in the past two years. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to think really hard what I want to do with myself. It forced me to bite the bullet and take new classes, talk to other profs about joining their groups, and go to job interviews despite the fears inside of me. It was awakening to realize that, up until last summer, I had been making decisions based on not what I truly want, but instead, what the easiest thing to do was. If I always choose the easiest road, I would only find it getting more and more difficult. Sure, starting from scratch in a relatively new area to me was not easy, but since I gave it a try and worked hard on it, I have learned so much more in this year than my last year.
I feel great. NOT because I am good at what I do now, but because I see I am improving everyday, and that’s ENOUGH, and VERY IMPORTANT to me. I must say I am not a person of great ambitions; I care much more about whether I am happy doing what I do everyday.
I am still trying to see if there will be research groups that I can fit in either in Caltech or in other schools. If not, going to work is not that bad either. As long as one has a good attitude towards life and self-discipline, he/she will find worthiness and fulfillment no matter what he/she does.
OK, I did not expect my post would have gotten this long, hehe J