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I’m writing this to document my struggles “switching” to a new field and to remind myself that some people are not worth listening to. In fact, they are worth nothing. I don’t know if I will follow this path, I do doubt myself a lot sometimes and some of the people around don’t make it easier either. But one thing is sure, I will never look at my abilities and determination, the same way again after these studies are completed.

Let’s start from the beginning. I started studying chemistry in the sixth grade. Before that, I discovered some of my dad’s old chemistry books. I fell in love with it because it seemed like a fascinating world. I couldn’t wait to start the classes to learn more, to enter the lab and do all those experiments in the book. It was a subject that unlocked the mysteries of the world around me, it would make me understand the world to its tiniest core up to complex phenomena.

This is not how things went. Our teacher didn’t really care to teach, to make us understand. There was no passion and even worse, when I did ask for clarifications I was called stupid: “I said it once, why weren’t you paying attention/are you stupid?” Obviously if I didn’t get it in a second, I was automatically stupid. I had no support in solving exercises and even if I tried but failed, I got the usual scolding…you are so stupid, how can you not understand a thing so easy? No support, no encouragement and as a child I believed it. I was too stupid, that was too difficult for me. I gave up. I didn’t pay attention anymore, I started skipping chemistry classes and I declared an eternal hate and disgust for this subject (along with maths and physics – secondary school physics teacher was horrible). Never again. I was done.

I chose a humanities class in high-school and ignored science classes completely. We had bad science teachers there also. They were not interested, no passion and the usual – those humanities dumb heads, not that they would understand anything. But there was a spark. In my first year of high-school, we had a very cool physics teacher, I enjoyed hear explanations and her way of teaching. I understood things very fast and at the end of that year I got one of the best grades in physics. She left. After that, I stopped studying physics; her replacement did not live up to the standards.

Fast forward 13 years. After years of studying in humanities, and specializing myself in museum studies I fell in love with a branch of museum profession called conservation. I said that nothing will stop me to study that. Bad luck…chemistry was needed. Only the first high-school course but still. I cut my ties with chemistry right at that very beginning; it was like I never studied it. Because I never did, actually. I skipped most of the classes and barely passed. I wasn’t interested. I went to the library and took that book, opened it and tears came into my eyes. I didn’t understand anything. It seemed so difficult. But I said: YOU WON’T GIVE UP! And I didn’t, I bought the book and started studying chemistry on my own. First months were hell. There was nobody to help me, nobody I could ask. Swearing, frustration, tears, ripped pages with exercises. But time went and I started understanding. I was so happy after few hours of struggle to understand and even solve problems on my own. And at one point I realized, with amazement that I started liking it.

After going through just one chemistry course (out of five), I signed up for university. Chemistry. One of the craziest, if not the craziest, thing I did in my life. No background studies and there I was, sitting in a class with people who had a strong background in chemistry. I realized what I have done one week before I started the classes. I panicked so bad that I almost puked right before my first chemistry class. How could I keep up with these people? They are so advanced, I know nothing. You have no idea how many times I cried after classes because I couldn’t understand almost anything. But I studied on my own and in one month I went through the whole 5 high-school courses, at basic level, at least to understand the concepts. (thank you opetus.tv!) Until now I am proud to say that I have passed all courses with a very good in Chemistry of the Environment. And I think I’m falling in love with chemistry to the point of thinking to switch completely to science and start my studies all over again.

Things aren’t so easy, however. I did mention the struggles and certain people in the beginning. Let’s put it straight: chemistry, like any other subject, is not easy. Especially when you are crazy enough to sign up for university courses with no strong background. But that’s not the point. You can learn it; I’m a living proof of that. What makes it worse, are the people around you. In my case, it started with the teachers. A bad teacher will make you hate a subject or if you are lucky, you’ll be just indifferent to it. I can’t complain now, my present chemistry teacher had always had the patience to explain the most stupid questions I asked him. And that’s what makes a good teacher.

But what is worse, is other people’s attitudes. I was told that this is useless because if I don’t understand things right on the spot then I have no talent for it. Have these people heard that work is required in every field? You don’t wake up overnight and get top grades. Everything requires hard work and passion. Chemistry is not like singing, you have the voice or you don’t. Even singing requires lots of work. Very few people are born with extraordinary talents. The rest of us have to work. Giving up is not an option.

I was told that I’m at that age when you are too old to study and as a woman I should have other normal priorities (read lifescript), not dreaming of a career in a STEM field. To be clear, lifescript has never interested me. It might suit others but I always found it extremely boring. If an activity is not intellectually challenging or has a certain degree of difficulty, I drop it. I love studying, reading, thinking and solving problems a lot. Am I 100% at this point that I want to go into STEM? Maybe not 100 but I’m strongly considering it. I do love my job a lot and my present field but studying chemistry will never take me away from cultural heritage field. On the contrary, I will become one of those multidisciplinary persons with a wide understanding of various disciplines and enhanced capacity of solving problems and be innovative.

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The question of role models in life never bothered me because i actually did not have any so to say. Well, if you are to think of the ornaments promoted by media which have to stand for consumption bodies instead of women or shiny, silly smiling, polished males with no brains. I had none of those role models in my life because i saw them rather as trash of consumerist culture rather than dignified examples to follow. Nevertheless, there is somebody who’s got my admiration, silent and secret admiration, from my own family: my aunt. And she didn’t get it because of i don’t know what highly material achievements but for her personality and character. She is very individualistic and taking her own decisions as well with the responsibility which comes along. And she is one of the most positive and cheerful persons i have ever met. From her i learned to stand up for myself and defend my own decisions and choices in life although there is a whole army of people behind you who yell that you are wrong and try to shape your life the way they want. I haven’t got the chance lately to have a deep talk with her mainly because she keeps away from the other relatives. Once it was a bit of a mystery for me why she did so because not long ago i was quite a naive child but now i see things much better. You see, my aunt was never married nor she had kids and for a tradionalist society obsessed with housewifes as breeding mares this thing is outrageous. But i always saw it as a personal choice and respected her, i never asked her these kinds of questions because i just felt they are useless, stupid and highly insulting.

It did not happen like this with my relatives and i fadely remember now that they always bothered her with such questions and i saw she was uncomfortable but too polite to react violently. Even when she was not present they tried to find single guys and they always tried to couple her assuming that she is not happy and feels miserable without somebody. On the contrary, i’ve seen much more married women miserable. And my aunt did not care and she moved with her life doing whatever she considered that she had to do. I remember when i was among family gatherings and my aunt was there she always got drawn into this kind of stupid conversation which “stabilized” women try to involve you in. I was a child but i got annoyed so bad and i was just wondering why the hell are they trying so desperately to arrange my aunt’s life into a kind of domestic shit? Why are they doing that against her own will? I never understood why some forced you to do some things which you don’t feel like. I just think of that because she never tried to impose her lifestyle on anyone. I just admire the way she dismissed everybody by applying the old saying “dogs bark, bear moves on”.

And all the excuses that you are not normal and you will see, you will change your mind, your instincts blah blah. All this bullshit being fed to you all over and all over again. That is one reason i admire her. She is one of the persons with a spine, a personality and a brain who chose to think for herself instead of letting others making the choices and fuck up her life. And afterall when people see you are happy with your own choices they still cannot accept the simple fact that you live by your own rules and manage excellently. I just believe that somebody’s own choices are not difficult to follow as well as goals, if some assholes would not intervene with unwanted advice. Things would be easier somehow. Life of course has its own difficulties but added by people it makes it sometimes unbearable.

I am grateful sometimes that i have such a powerful example in my own family which afterall, contrary to what others expected she is happy with her own life because it raised to her own expectations not to others. And she dismissed completely the stereotypes and taught me that there is a life besides being driven by the so-called biological instincts. Because all of us have brains but very few know how to use them ;).

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why i do love my body

Inspired by the post on the blog The Pursuit of Harpiness about body i would also like to say a few modest things why i love the prison of my soul. It was just a metaphor since i really like my body. Although i wasn’t like that all the time, there have been times when i loathed it especially when i was younger. As usually i need somebody to put the blame on but i assume it’s not blaming, it’s just reality. The environment i grew up in was constantly saying that my body is a wreck … from media to my family. About media we all know the stadards of beauty we are choked with but i would have expected more empathy from the closest ones. But after all we are all victims of the same system and they are also stiffed with the same prefabricated perfect body images. I was looking at every detail of me and found it bad, i did not like the wrapping at all. Although i never had weight problems or any deformities. So why then? Why this perpetual unaccomplishment? Because i was just poured silly ideas in my head, and i was more silly to believe them. Until one day i just woke up. I don’t know how honestly, maybe it was the neighbour at the countryside who was half paralyzed from a young age, maybe it was the video on youtube about the woman who got completely burned in a car accident but still survived, i won’t put it here – the video – i can’t resist watching it again. But it definitely changed the whole perception regarding my body. I feel at peace with it and i love it.

Why? Because it is a whole and it is completely functional. Well…it has some inner difficulties but they are minor or at least i don’t feel disturbed by them. I have all my body parts intact. I can feel the world and enjoy life without restrictions. I can walk, my legs can do that, i have two hands, i can grab, touch, hold, caress; my eyes can see every detail that surrounds me. My body is not perfect, i know that. A bit of fat on my belly which makes sometimes difficult to zip up an old pair of jeans but that’s why i am doing sports. The few acnee spots which seem for me so natural and don’t bother at all, makes me feel a teenager, the hair on my armpits which i got so used to it cannot imagine them without.  But i can move freely. My body, with all the imperfection makes me go on everyday. Everything i do is possible because of the piece of meat i used to loathe. Why? Because it’s not how some would like it to be? That’s not important…it’s important it’s just the way i wanted to be. Because it’s mine not others.

So why wish for an impossible perfection when i have everything i need right here? There are plenty of people who would give anything just to feel the pleasure of running again. Worry about some little acnee bumps? Remember there are people who would give everything to have their normal face again. Hate your hairy arms? Some of your fellows would give the world to have those hairy arms to hug just once the ones they love.

I love my body because it is just perfect the way it is. 🙂

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