Fearless

So I guess it's been quite a while, like a month and a half since I've written. If I ask myself why that is, I'd say it's a combination of being super super busy this semester, being pretty content with life and its happenings, and having a boyfriend with whom I end up spending all the free time I used to use to write. It's not a bad thing, but definitely I should write more. Probably this summer when I'll be staying at Duke to (finally!) do Alzhemiers research!

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I guess the first thing I wanted to talk about was Dhoom. Being co-captain this semester has been such a wonderful experience and I hope will continue to be. This is the first time I've felt the real struggles and rewards of being a leader and I think next year and the year after I'll have so much more of a better idea if what to expect. I think one of the things I've been learning is that as a leader, even though you're allowed to feel guilt when something doesn't turn out the way the team expected it to, that shouldn't stop you from moving forward and working even harder to turn that thing into something you can be proud of. I guess I knew that already but it has become much more apparent and applicable in the last few weeks. I've also learned that the co-captain life requires a whole lot more collaboration and compromise than I expected. There are so many decisions that not everyone will agree on because there is no right answer. 

And being a leader has made me more jealous. Jealous of teams and dancers that have achieved so much more; have reached a place that I strive to be. I love Dhoom as my own and I just want it to grow and grow until it becomes the child I've always wanted (or want in the future, you know what I mean). It makes me want to grow as a dancer so I can grow the team to be competition winning and awe-inspiring and no longer the underdog. Being a leader means that when I watch our performance videos over and over again, I'm not just looking at myself anymore to see if I hit everything; I'm looking at us as an entity, as a whole. This is not for me to put on my resume or to brag about; it's to reach a goal and feel excellence. That would really be so beautiful. I want bigger and better things for Dhoom and I'm hoping in the next two years at Duke, I can make some progress toward that goal!

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Next, something that a close friend of mine recently brought to my attention: apparently I have a lot of pride. I have still not learned how to ask my peers and elders for help. I don't like admitting that I like things that you've shown me. I like showing gratitude but I don't do it as often as I should. In denying myself things because I don't want to be just like everyone else, I lose so much enjoyment that I could've had. I am so not as close to being the "perfect" daughter and friend and human being as I've always wanted to be, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for change. But change is really hard. 

You know what else is really hard? Sacrifice. And understanding, true understanding. If you think you understand someone who has been through a really rough breakup while you haven't, odds are you don't really. Our emotions are so much stronger felt than can be imagined. Sometimes as we get older, we stop understanding how we ourselves felt some odd years in the past because the emotion is forgotten. Thus, time heals all wounds, right? Enough people believe it so it must be true. But some wounds take a whooole lot more time to close than others. Another example: if you think you understand someone who has grown up in a completely different background or generation or culture than you, you probably don't understand how they feel and think either. And this is where conflicts happen: are parents always right just because they are older and can play the experience card? What if the way that they grew up differs tremendously from the way that you did because you're first generation American? What is right? 

See I'm in a bit of a dilemma. The experience card is extremely valid. However, the culture card is not, meaning "our culture is your culture" is not a valid argument. I don't think I have become a completely "American cultured" girl after growing up here, but this doesn't mean there are parts of the culture that I support a lot more than some of my Indian values. Interracial marriage is one example of that. Homosexual relationships are another. So why am I being told that I'm wrong for being out after 10 or going to a concert with just guy friends? Because the ethics and morality of experiences are culturally defined. Because in India being out after 10 is really dangerous; because boys in India are not always the most courteous and a stigma exists for girls that hang out with lots of boys. Is my culture that superficial? 

I'm not saying that because of this generational and cultural gap that exists, these arguments aren't valid from our parents. I don't completely understand, like I said, but I generally can see where they're coming from. They only have their own experience to draw from. They don't know that if I'm out after 10, I'll be sure to be with friends that can protect me. They don't know that if I'm out with boys, I have made certain that they are people that I can trust; I have enough, even if not all, perception to see that. Perceptions are different, beliefs are different, I get that. But shouldn't we be adjusting and creating a new set of cultural rules that don't mean we are dragging all the way back to our ancestors rule book? The values that have stuck are the ones that are valid no matter how the culture changes like respect for elders, giving back to your parents, being careful with spending. But the ones that are changing are allowed to change, aren't they? What is the point of pulling back? I'm going to teach my kids about female empowerment and cultural awareness even though that's not something my parents went though and directly taught me because times are changing and so are values. I'm not worried about my family being ashamed of me because I'll know I won't give them a true reason, in my mind, to be as such. But how do we define right when it means different things to different people? You don't, and that's a problem with being first generation. As wonderful as it is, it's also a cultural hassle. 

At this point, I just want to make it clear that I love my parents and everything they have done for me and given to me and taught me. I wouldn't be the way that I am without them, and that's one thing I can never repay. But what is so frustrating is knowing that in the culture I've grown up in, the decisions that I'm making are perfectly okay, not against any rules, not breaking my moral code, but in their perception, they went wrong with me somewhere. Which they didn't. The only "mistake" they "made" was coming to America or having children in a time where the world in general is becoming more Westernized, if that makes sense. Perceptions of actions and morality and ethics and beauty might be different amongst cultures, but there is one thing that I think doesn't change, and that is happiness. We all feel the same types of happiness; it's something we can relate to one another with. Perceptions can be changed, and even if they can't be changed, they can be adjusted or tolerated. But if we stay steadfast on our perceptions, we might be denying someone else's happiness. Because this goes both ways between two parties, it becomes very hard to find a right answer. I don't know the right answer, but I know what I want, and that's what I, while still taking into account others' perceptions, will fight for. Sacrifice is difficult, like I said, and to be honest, that may or may not be a solid personality trait that I have at this point in my life. 

And I know the arguments I would receive about all of this from the older generation. That I don't understand what having to change and cater to this new culture is like. That once I become a parent I will see how difficult it is to deal with your kids that want to do all of this. That they already have bent a lot with the new culture. I know that's true, I don't know, but I do think that flexibility is also a thing that is becoming more prevalent in the culture that I am growing up in. I know that a big change that has occurred between my grandparents parenting and my parents parenting is not forcing an arranged marriage and boy, am I grateful for that. Do I wish they had bent more? Of course. I wish so dearly. But open mindedness is quite relative as well, and I don't know if that will be an agreement that is ever reached. 

So I've said a lot of things and I have a lot more to say too, but it's probably better that I stop. All of these things are things that I'm just feeling lately. Whether I've stayed true to all of them is another question, and probably a negatory on that haha. I'm working on it, but I'll definitely need my fair share of help. 

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I'm trying this sectioning thing to give these posts more order since I talk about like, 30 things at once. 

In other news, I'm staying at Duke to do Alzheimer's research this summer on the neuroimmunology (glia) and mitochondrial effects on neurodegenerative disease. I'm super excited about it since Alzheimer's research is something I've always wanted to do. However, I'm starting to have doubts, strangely enough. There's probably some philosophical law about this, about how once you finally get into something, you start doubting whether it's what you really even wanted. The more I learn about synaptic plasticity, the more I think it would be a much more useful thing to work with. I know it sounds terrible, but Alzheimer's does really only inflict us once we get older, but finding ways to create stronger synaptic plasticity in the brain would help so many conditions at a much younger age, giving them the opportunity to live out their life much happier. Both are noble causes, but in my case, I think I just want to solve all of the brains problems in one sitting. In 15 years you'll see me with a Nobel Prize for mapping out a human brain and being able to stimulate parts of it to recreate cognitive functions. How ridiculously cool would that be?

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If you're here and are still reading, you either must really like me or I'm interesting or something. Spring break has been good I guess, but sometimes it hits me that I don't know anything I'm supposed to about magnetism and I start freaking out. I also have so much to do for Dhoom in the next month that I hope I can keep my grades and extracurriculars balanced. I'm afraid I've started becoming okay with average grades, and I need some motivation to be doing better. Medical school... I mean, it's a motivation but really not enough of one. Who do I talk to about things like this? I have no idea. Myself on this web page I guess. 

Okay I'll be done now. Bye all. Be happy. Enough people say it so it must be true. 

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