academia, academic, productivity

what it means to be your own friend (feat. my last bathroom selfie in Goodes Hall)

Earlier today I took what will likely be my last bathroom selfie in Goodes Hall. (Hopefully in equal part because I’ll grow out of it and because I’m about to graduate from undergrad. 😋)

Isn’t it an amazing feeling to be fascinated by an area of study? The utter excitement that comes along with it! Then suddenly you might look up to find that, without realizing it, you’ve completely burnt yourself out and that spark is nowhere to be seen. Maybe you’d really just rather do something easier right now, or you desperately want to take a sidetrack but it’s just not the time (or you suspect it’s clever procrastination in disguise). What do you do? If you want to keep going, I guess you’ll just have to collect yourself and push through what feels, sometimes, like genuine physical pain. But then – before you know it (!) – you’re on the other side, inspired and ready to take on the world again! I’ve gone through this on repeat a lot in the past four years. This month in particular I’m feeling the intensity of this cycle that comes along with being so close to an End. (For now. Because didn’t Dumbledore or Gandalf or someone say that Endings are also Beginnings?)

See: I’m trying to savour the last weeks of my Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. But I am so so SO eager to move on and start fresh.

Looking back, I’m surprised to hear myself say: university has been hard. But not because of the statistics, economics, marketing or finance. It’s been full of a million little workouts for the brain. You know that Matrix scene where Neo does his first signature backend at the hand of Agent Smith’s bullets? Yeah, that – except, I am simultaneously Neo and Agent Smith. It’s a cycle on repeat, and its infallibility is a constant reaffirmation that no matter how hard I try, there will always be countless unseen variables that affect my emotional makeup. What excites me at that moment, how energized I feel, and what ideas I come up with aren’t – shocker – things completely in my control. They’re so unreliable that you can literally rely on their unreliability. But the tenets of my character that allow me to work out how to handle each of those situations and do hard things regardless of how I’m feeling or what the weather is like or how few tools I have – that’s always there.

It’s the same principle as the popular mantra: you can’t choose the hand you’re dealt, but how you play it. Somewhere in between how you find yourself and where you end up is you – and that there’s this magic infallibility we keep missing hints about.

Bringing things down from the metaphorical: I’ve been non-stop reminded over the past four years that you can always rely on a steady stream of challenges, from outside and within. For this reason, I give myself grace and treat myself with compassion, because I know I can’t always stop those challenges from appearing. I’ve also noticed that I always show up on the other side, glancing back and thinking “huh, that wasn’t so bad”. And for this reason, I trust in the skills I’ve earned and can use to get me there, and stopped trying to prove to myself that my successes aren’t one-off flukes.

I thought I’d wrap up this season of life by sharing some snippets of the favourite projects and topics I’ve gotten to (with plenty of ups and downs) work on this past year:

For a history-type course on economic growth in the late 19th and early 20th century, I wrote an essay about why America took off in comparison to Britain in the 1900s, approaching it from a demand-driven angle (usually economic growth theory focuses on supply change).

For my Law 2 course, I read about copyright and realized that there are perfectly valid arguments against it. This was interesting for me, as a YouTube and content creator and artist!

In my Intro to Econometrics course this semester, I *finally* learned what regression is.

Another essay for my law course. This time, tying into research I did for an economic development course on the pharmaceutical industry in developing countries. This essay argued that TRIPS patent requirements hinder (or stand to hinder) access to HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries.

And finally, my undergraduate thesis research project spanned a year and was a wild ride.

Working title: “The Role of Product Functionality Demonstrations and Use-Case Specificity on Perceived Product Trial in Online Video Advertisements”.

As for now… this pretty much sums it up:

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