I’m sorry I’m not her

I’m sorry I’m not the petite skinny picture perfect daughter you wanted. Im sorry I’m not the stereotypical skinny Asian girl. I’m sorry you’re embarrassed to have a fat child like me.

I’m sorry I’m not submissive, quiet, and soft spoken. I’m sorry I speak my mind, and am not afraid to stand up for myself when I’m treated unfairly.

I’m sorry I don’t work in a stereotypical women’s job. I’m sorry I’ve chosen to work in an industry dominated by males, and work at a company where I’m the only girl.

I’m sorry I don’t have a gentle high pitched voice like you want. I’m sorry my voice sounds horrible to your ears. I’m sorry I can’t change how I sound.

I’m sorry I don’t want to have kids and start my own family. I’m sorry I’m bad with my younger cousins especially the toddlers. I’m sorry I don’t have that maternal drive that all women are supposed to have.

I’m sorry my anxiety makes me a high maintenance child. I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment to you.

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Delayed Gratification

It’s easy to seek reward immediately for something you have done. Sometimes you get impatient and want that immediate gratification after pouring your hard work and dedication into something.

2018 was a rollercoaster of emotions. It was a year where I had my highest highs, but my lowest lows. I graduated with Honors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I walked the stage at graduation to shake hands with the chancellor and department heads. I had some of my best memories with my best friends. I secured a lab research job two weeks before I graduated, and was over the moon with where my life was headed. I did a postbac and met some of the most amazing people, both friends and faculty, from that program. I was beaming with confidence as I finished my postbac with straight As, while also volunteering at a new research lab on campus.

But 2018 was also filled with dark moments. My relationship with my family got even more strained as I tried to claim independence as a working adult. I got in an abusive relationship where I was just viewed as a sex object and a trophy to be shown off. My post-grad research job was an absolute nightmare and my mental health was down the drain. As I moved back home, I had to say goodbye to my closest friends I had met in college.

2018 was filled with existential crises as I tried to figure out what type of career I wanted to pursue. My dreams of pursuing a PhD and becoming a biomedical researcher were shattered as my abusive post-grad lab constantly told me I was a disappointment and was never enough. I was so burned out from working 60+ hours/week plus weekends that my brain seemed to have slowed down. I didn’t have mental clarity and couldn’t think at work. I convinced myself I could not have a future in STEM because my brain couldn’t operate at a fast enough rate. I felt so lost and had absolutely no idea what direction to take my life.

It’s 1 month into 2019, but 2019 has taught me the importance of delayed gratification. I began my job search at the start of 2019 as soon as I finished my postbacc, and was flooded with emails and phone calls from employers. At one point, I was having dozens of phone interviews in a week and going to on-site interviews almost everyday of the week. I got a handful of job offers from biotech companies interested in hiring me as a research associate. I remember one of the scientists on the hiring team told me I deserved it due to how hard I worked in the past.

While working on my resume, it didn’t seem like I had a lot of skills. I felt like a “jack of all trades but master of none” as I had worked in 4 different research labs in my 2.5 years of experience in research, ranging from molecular biology and genetics, to oncology, to biochemistry, to microbiology. But upon accepting a job offer, I thought back to all those countless hours I spent in research labs as a volunteer undergraduate research assistant. I poured my heart and soul into my research projects while being a college student maintaining straight A’s, and realize now that I’m being rewarded for the hard work I put in. I thought back to all those times where I learned to juggle several experiments, often running around the lab trying to do everything as efficiently as possible. Now at my new job, the work load is a breeze and multitasking is second nature to me, because it is not nearly as intense as the multitasking I was expected to do back in academia. I used to hate working in academia and strongly hated my post-grad lab, but am now thankful that those labs trained me to become a more efficient scientist with the ability to multitask with ease.

I’m starting 2019 at a new job and extremely thankful for all the hard work I put in these last couple of years. It certainly was not easy to get to this point, but it was worth it to wait a couple years before I got to reap the benefits of all my hard work. No, I still don’t know where I want to take my career. But maybe I have it in me to give science and research another try.

A new chapter in my life (and saying goodbye to toxicity)

Sorry for all the word vomit lol and probably poor grammar. Just a warning this is gonna get real long and sentimental.

In 2018 after I graduated from undergrad, I got a job working full time in a research lab at my university. Don’t get me wrong, I was heavily involved in undergrad research for 2 years before that (Still waiting on my paper to get approved and published lol), so I was well aware what it was like doing research in academia, and how science isn’t always as pretty and glamorous as textbooks make it out to be. I was over the moon about it, because I had been in research for 2 years and was absolutely in love with it, and genuinely aspired to get a PhD in biomed and devoting my life to research.

Well that quickly shattered after my first week at my new job. I really don’t wanna go into specific details about my old job because I don’t like to think about it (it makes me really sad) but tl;dr- my PI was verbally abusive and likes to gaslight people. OH and on top of that, the lab is so cutthroat and hardcore I was expected to work 60+ hrs/week and weekends and only get paid for 40 bc it was a salaried position (and the salary was not high at all, I made the equivalent of less than minimum wage when you account for all the OT). I had no time left to see my friends, and couldn’t hang out with my family when they came to visit. I didn’t even have time after work to enjoy my life because I always had to take my work home. I quickly realized a week into my new job that research was NOT for me, and I would never consider going to grad school or getting involved in research ever again.

So I ended up leaving that job 3 months later. Sent in my letter of resignation and decided to pursue a postbac education in clinical lab sciences. Finished my postbac, and was back on the job hunting market for about a month… so here I am.

I start my new job on Tuesday, Feb 5th 2019. I’ll be a research associate at a biotech company. I know what you’re thinking, I said I’ll never get involved with research again. I know… but my options are pretty limited in terms of careers. I only really have experience in the biotech industry, and if I wanna make an income to save up for my future education (yup that’s right, not done yet) I gotta have a job. So yes, I’m tango-ing around with research again. But this time, in industry instead of academia, which I’ve heard is a lottttt more chill than academia and they don’t expect you to devote your entire life to it (aka a work life balance actually exists). Honestly, I’m really terrified and I guess you could say I’m a little traumatized from my last job. I’m worried I’ll crash and burn at my new job, and get fired. I’m worried I won’t live up to their expectations, and just disappoint everyone again. I’m worried I’ll crumble and break under the stress of science and research (as I did at my old job… but then again i was really depressed and anxious back then which really hindered my thinking and ability to do actual science).

But something in my gut tells me I’ll be ok. I start on the first day of Lunar New Year, which I’ve been told is good luck so HOPEFULLY that means my new job will be great (not that I hardcore believe in superstitions anyway… but sometimes it’s nice to entertain them). My manager and supervisor seem suuuuper nice and I vibed really well with them during the interview (unlike my last job where I had a bad gut feeling after the interview but took the job offer anyway bc I was desperate for money…bad choices were made). So yeah, here’s to a new chapter in my life. If you told me two years ago back when I was an undergrad researcher that I would land a job as a research associate in a biotech company, I would laugh in your face and say you’re fucking with me. I’m honestly really excited, but also a little bit worried that they’re gonna be apeshit crazy again like my last lab. I’ll be conservative and say that I won’t assess whether I like the job or not until I’ve assessed everyone for a couple of weeks.

How I Should Be.

I should be adventurous and love to travel. I should want to go see the world. I should not be a homebody.

I should be quiet and only speak when spoken too. I should not have opinions that disagree with my parents.

I should be tall, skinny, delicate, and flat as a board in all dimensions. I should not look like how I look now.

I should be selfless and never think of doing anything for myself. I should always put the needs of my family first. I should not exist outside my family.

I should only wash my hair every 3 days to preserve whatever oils and shit. I should not be getting a super oily and irritated scalp after 1 day of not washing my hair.

I should maintain composure and professionalism all the time, even with family and when I am alone. I should not feel or express any emotion.

I should avoid carbs like the plague, and I should find fats and proteins more satiating. I shouldn’t be having digestive issues when I consume too much fats and proteins.

I should be outgoing and ambitious and take on a million things at once. I shouldn’t indulge myself in solo hobbies such as reading or writing music.

I should be submissive, and allow myself to be owned by my family and future husband. I shouldn’t be thinking of myself as an individual.

I should be conservatively- dress like I’m going to church everyday, refrain from any physical contact with anyone. I shouldn’t be allowed to feel confident in my body, or crave to be hugged by someone else.

I should care about my appearance more and how other people perceive me. I shouldn’t be so easygoing with physical appearance.

I should exercise more and be in super good shape. I shouldn’t be getting anxiety from exercise or be feeling too lazy and unmotivated to.

I should have my life together. I should have my career together. I should be in optimal physical and mental health all the time. I should be skinny. I should be so many things that I am not.

Feeling like I’m never enough.

I feel like I’m in that limbo between recently finishing school and finding a job. I have a couple of job offers for positions I am extremely ecstatic and thrilled about, and have spent the last few days debating which position I want to take. However, someone very important to me told me I shouldn’t take any of these positions, because I am incapable of working any career because I have poor stress management.

I am incapable of working at any career because I have poor stress management… so where does that leave me now? I can’t spend the rest of my life being unemployed. The reality is, each job has stress. I can’t really choose a stress-free career. Every career has deadlines and responsibilities that I have to meet. I can’t really avoid my stressors. I have to learn to deal with them head-on. And i can’t learn to deal with stress when I’m not exposed to stress, right? Each job is a learning experience, and I shouldn’t be discouraged so easily.

I just need to constantly remind myself to breathe, keep a level head, and maintain professionalism.

Why you should love your body and where you come from.

Warning- I don’t mean to be cheesy and cliche and stand on a soapbox preaching about body positivity. Just trying to get my thoughts out, that’s all.

The average human body has approximately 37.2 trillion cells, but we all start out as one diploid zygote. The human genome has 3 million base pairs and approximately 40,000 genes. Pluripotent stem cells are able to terminally differentiate based on molecular signaling and gene regulation. The intricate regulatory mechanisms of the cell cycle, transcription, and translation keep everything in check and allow us to function and thrive.

There are 11 major organ systems in the human body (that we know of). Each functioning in exquisite mechanisms based on the properties of physics and biochemistry. I could geek out and provide some cool factoid about each of these systems but I’ll save you the boredom.

Growing up, I’ve been criticized for how my body looks. I’ve always been the “fat child,” even when my unhealthy habits left me underweight when I was in high school. Too curvy for an Asian, but not curvy enough to be deemed “beautiful” by American society. A chest too big and unproportional to my height (I’m short) by Asian beauty standards, but flat and small by American standards. Proportionally long legs that are considered beautiful by Asian standards, but tainted by disproportionately large thighs and a round butt to earn me the title of “fat” in my Asian family but not enough to be considered “thicc” by American standards.

As an Asian-American, I love being able to experience both of my cultures. The liberal American society (I’m from CA, I know not all states are liberal) is like a breath of fresh air since I live in an extremely conservative Chinese household. Asian food will always be my favorite cuisine, however I appreciate a good burger and am in love with American breakfast foods (although I know they don’t all originate in the U.S.). Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn festival are huge celebrations in my family and bring an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Being trilingual is pretty sweet too.

Asian and American beauty standards seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, and I don’t fit either one. I’m too X to be beautiful in Asia but not Y enough to be beautiful in America. But through all my schooling in biochemistry and molecular biology, I learned just how intricate and magical our bodies are. “Fat” is viewed as ugly in both cultures, however fatty acid metabolism is so biochemically intricate I can’t say I don’t appreciate it. We are more than how we look. Our bodies are a sum of infinitesimal biochemical reactions that must be coordinated and regulated to ensure proper functioning. How we treat people and our character are far more important than how we look.

Our bodies are simply a means of letting us do what we want. Love it because you are genetically unique (unless you have an identical twin… but even identical twins differ in epigenetic markers… nevermind I’m getting ahead of myself here) and signaling pathways of developmental biology worked successfully to allow you to be here.

We all have that friend.

We all have that friend who has that superiority complex. The friend who thinks they’re the shit. That they know everything. That they know you. That they know what’s best for you.

We all have that friend who always throws pity parties for themselves. Who treats mental health and unfortunate circumstances as a competition to see who’s got it worse. Who treats you like a therapist because they know you’re too kind to turn them away.

We all have that friend who will backstab you in a heartbeat. Who is kind to your face but talks shit about you behind your back. Sometimes you wonder if they really think you’re that dumb and can’t see through their mask.