My graduation from the university last April 2013 came as a glorious caesura to a chapter of my story, and left as a grim reminder of the required transition from nonchalance to the urgency to come up with a determinate plan for the future. Like everyone in the academe, my end goal is pretty much set in stone, and that is– drumroll, please– to get a Ph.D. in a field I have an interest in, in my case, computational biology or bioinformatics. Dissimilar to those who have committed the next four or five years of their lives to the study of medicine, we need to come up with a strategic plan for this choose-your-own adventure as soon as we step out of the university. If the main quest is already difficult as it is, the road towards it is also laden with optional side quests (at least for me), such as being financially adequate without lagging behind the average index for the quality of life, and finding where love, the romantic kind, can fit into the picture.
I loved science since secondary school but back then, I wasn’t decided which field of it I loved better than the rest. Instead of being a spin-off of my own volition, what I wrote on the blank inquiring about my desired degree was a product of an ultimatum prompted by the deadline of sending university applications—and as I discovered later on, of a huge amount of luck because where I stand now in the frontier of science surprisingly coincides with the path I would have chosen now. Plenty of times in the past I have engaged in delusions where I conceive of myself as someone appropriate for the medical or legal profession, but as I take my master’s degree and see how far my study habits are taking me in subjects where reading and comprehension are the only prerequisites to survive, I would now gladly admit it to the world that my brain has a distaste for hardcore memorization. My everyday desire to go to school to inflate my scrimpy knowledge on my field despite an 8-hour workday will bear witness to my rediscovered internal Renaissance.
The degree of difficulty I encountered in admitting my plans to myself, however, does not compare to that of when I was finally confronted by my parents, whom I’ve likely to have disappointed by “wasting my intellect” in deciding not to be an engineer, a doctor, or anything orthodoxly considered by the society as “successful”. As I have already told them with much tears and snot undesirably leaking out of my face, my undergraduate degree will not take me anywhere unless I temper it with Ph.D. Until then, the jobs I will be taking wouldn’t be able to contribute significantly to our familial expenses. Not to sound like a complain, but if it weren’t for my family, the fact that I will probably never earn as much as my eldest sister would have been completely fine with me. However, I am particularly aware that this is the least I could do to refund their help on the course of my rearing in the past 20 years.
And then, there’s the non-consanguineal love which occassionally finds its way in my discourses with my female friends as a recursion of smaller subtopics. These subtopics include our (1) target market (what do we lack that resulted to our singledom during our entire stay in the university; a reality extending to the present?), (2) our future career (will love be able to squeeze itself in the crevices of our lives as female members of the academe?), and (3) our success (isn’t having a family a limiting factor to pursuing science?). This discourse is often punctuated with resolution that, unless we figure out the answer to (1), (2) and (3) should be the tiniest of our worries. Our response to (1), on the other hand, often wobbles between (a) love comes to those who wait, and (b) we should actively set out looking for love. My ever-inaction on this issue will put me in option (a) by default. I used to be bothered at the lack of tinder to the romantic aspect of my life, but over time, I have grown somewhat desensitized by invasive inquiries directed to my extended singlehood. This is not bitterness, this is me contradicting the society’s insistence that a “viable” girl, such as myself, should have a relationship—leastwise a failed one—to speak of.
These are the issues that consistently plague my mind whenever it is not occupied by topics of less expansiveness and significance. Oftentimes I ask, am I meant for something great? Luckily, I am lucid enough to not spend a sizable time pondering on a question only the rolling pin of time can deconstruct and answer. Right now, I think I’d rather be open to the possibility of failure, so I can consistently attempt at being great at each kneading of life.