Where to Begin?
So, this past summer, I began a “soul search,” in that I wanted to attempt to find answers to the following questions:
- What is the purpose of my life?
- What do I see myself doing for the remainder of my limited time on this planet?
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I have not really answered these questions, trying various avenues, various methodologies, and going through some interesting (to say the least) experiences. In this post, I hope to detail the “Recent Failures” and the impact on my “soul search” and how I rebounded, in several parts, this being the initial, and first.
Introduction to Failurology [a.k.a The Beginning of Summer]:
It was the beginning of June, exams were complete, both AP and Honors, and summer was approaching, meaning no more schoolwork (other than the usual “summer assignments,” which I always have found to be quite interesting), and I was ready to spend my summer, learning…
Wait? What? Yes, indeed, I was ready and prepared to delve into various classes and go to a STEM Pre-College at my local university. However, due to my recent hospital bills (apparently spine surgery is pretty expensive) and my single mother’s intensive work schedule, I found myself confined to my house… No external access to the physical world, just myself and the vast Internet.
S0, I self-enrolled in courses through iTunes U, Udacity, and Coursera, in attempt to both broaden and specify my knowledge base. I self-enrolled in Physics, Statistics, Machine Learning, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence Courses, and pretty much anything else that sounded “cool” to me. By the end of the first couple weeks of Summer, I [self] “dropped-out” of many of the rudimentary courses, narrowed my “soul-search” down to one primary option, and “Check 1” of my Checklist… done!
I wished it was that simple. However, I did narrow down my life’s dedication, or perhaps better known as the cliche terms “passion” and/or “interest.” This being, Neuroscience, the Computational Kind… Now, this was just an idea, akin to the typical conversation:
– “Hey what do you want to be when you grow up? ”
– “Well, you know, a Computational Neuroscientist!”
[Thought in other persons’ head]: It’ll be something different in a month or two…
Though, Computational Neuroscience, and Neuroscience in general, intrigues me beyond comprehension, as there is just something about the brain, the mystery, the complexity, it is quite exhilarating, if I may say so myself. Now, it is great to have an idea, a notion of what you may want to do, but I realized, “Hey, I need to do something…,” so I went straight to my favorite social network Quora and asked this question. This led me to two great things, one, a volunteer opportunity for Eyewire.org thanks to a truly wonderful person and awesomely active user of Quora named Amy Robinson. The second led me to realize, I could attempt to get an internship at my local university at a neuroscience lab. Now, this realization, is where the failure and subsequent recovery begin.
Excited and hyped, I began to research Neuroscience Labs, who either utilized computational modeling, or were involved in biophysics, or the neuroscience behind learning and memory, as neuronal computation and synaptic plasticity are the most intriguing. As I searched, hours on end, for relevant Labs, I found one, of which was researching Reelin signaling, and ApoE genes and their roles in Alzheimer’s. This didn’t quite suite my desires, but I maintained an “open” mind and decided to investigate a little further, and per the answer by another awesome Quora user (who is a neuroscientist), named Colin Gerber. Who would aid in my letter to the aforementioned lab, something I am extremely thankful for, I read their publications, got quite interested into the basis of Alzheimer’s Disease, and was immensely excited, so within a week, after attempting to absorb as much information as I possibly could about the Disease, I sent the e-mail/letter…
I never received a response, even after a follow-up e-mail and with no phone number, I was slightly dismayed, perhaps I was too naive, too young, or [insert generic predisposition about 16-year-old teenage males here]. However, as Mr. Gerber, advised me not to get discouraged, I would overcome this personal failure, and move on.
Critical Lessons of First Failure:
1) Always remain open to doing things that may have not been your first or second choices… they may soon become it. As a result of my research into Alzheimer’s, I continue to study it, have been greatly interested in it, and is now one of my “first” or “seconds” of my Preferences.
2) Support, Support, Support. Someone who encourages you, advises you, create opportunities for you; these people are crucial to overcoming failure and pressing the “reset” button, or in the case of Amy Robinson, provide a “start” button. Value, appreciate, and surround yourselves with these people, as you can not do everything on your own. These people were those of my mother, Colin Gerber, and Amy Robinson. Thanks again!
End of Part 1…