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LIFE UPDATE (it’s okay to be an underdog, really)

Hello everyone!

It really has been a long time since the last time I post something in this blog. Doctoral degree life, combined with many life twists and conflicts have made me really preoccupied in the past few months!

But now, everything is pretty much okay. I am writing after a long day from Tsukuba attending a crystallographic refinement lecture with my collaborator. Honestly, I am a bit tired because I have just arrived from Hungary.

So what’s actually happening in life recently?

  1. Most simple, age-wise… I have turned 26 several weeks ago 😀 meaning that probably i have passed my quarter-life crisis! LOL. With my new age, I must be more mature and be grateful in living my life!
  1. Academic-wise?

I think I am doing pretty much okay, i guess.

Doctoral degree life is quite tough and I am taking my own pace to do my research. But, I have just passed through my Doctoral Progress Presentation.

 

However, sad to say apart from my high frequency of attending conferences (the last one was Biotrans Budapest last week) I have not published any scientific journal, yet. But I guess it is okay. Although I cannot say that I know 100% of what I’m doing right now, but at least I am in the right direction.

Of course I am an underdog compared to other international students in my lab. One of them has published so many international journals and even book chapter. One of them is really brainy, has perfect English, about to publish his paper, and also one of the most sociable person in this campus. One of them is really brainy and can take this life so patiently. One of them is really good at Japanese, English, art, brainy, and has a really strong personality. Compare all of them with me? >.<

But I have some reasons to be not that upset to myself, probably need to list it down here :

  • My study is multi-disciplinary.

So actually I have a quite good skill-set from microbiology for bachelor (which makes me a little bit stronger in genetic and biology), organic chemistry (weak, though), biochemistry and enzymology (my love!), and right now I am studying crystallography as well. So it’s a complete package from up-stream (enzyme engineering, enzyme production, and enzyme characterization) to down-stream of both application (organic chemistry for enzymatic reaction) and the process of enzyme structure elucidation.

I know I have not published anything yet. But I genuinely think that I have learned so many things.

  • I am quite good at doing things considered unimportant by others

Things considered unimportant include managing the lab condition (read it as cleaning up the mess), organizing things, making English manuals for many things in the lab (how to buy things, how to use Japanese system, etc.), and making laboratory rules. Of course, some people judge me as being not effective and I should have used my time for myself but I believe this kind of skill is important for me since I want to be an academician.

I know I am not smart. but if i can help on something? Definitely i will help 🙂

 

  • I am given the chance to pursue one of my passion, teaching

Honestly I really love all my teaching assistant jobs and the time when new student get inside our laboratory. Because at that time I can teach them and I can prepare teaching material, which is something crucial if you want to pursue your career in academia.

  • I speak decent English and enough Japanese to live and discuss about research

Of course my English is not good compared to my other international lab members. But I am grateful enough that it is decent enough for daily conversation, writing blog, writing assignment, and writing conference abstract, hopefully it will be enough for writing a paper.

My Japanese? It is also not good but it is enough to live my daily life and even to discuss about research. With practice, I can even explain my research poster in Japanese and conduct an academic-related conversation.

  • Being an underdog actually push me to study and work more

Of course the feeling of being the worst in this laboratory drives me crazy, and makes me to be so hard on myself. But I do love my experiment and my topic (I have been with my enzyme from 2012, I am already falling in love with her). Cmiiw, it is better than not having the passion to do the experiment, or doing the experiment only for the fame or money.

  • I am actually mentally strong

I’ve been through quite a lot in the past year, yes, I have been bullied in many ways. From harsh type of bullying until the smooth gaslighting. From personal thing and decision that I made in life until the way I conduct my experiment (common type of work-place bullying).

Although again I have been judged for being too weak, too nice, ineffective, unstable and so on, what I do is just keep moving forward. I will just keep doing experiment and keep learning everyday. Although sometimes I do it with tears literally falling.

The most important thing is not stopping! And keep doing what you love ❤

Perseverance is the key.

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  1. To sum it all up, I am quite happy and I will fight for my life. I will just do what I love although I am not yet good at it J

Do small positive things in my life. Cooking, writing in this blog, playing music, and I’ve even started editing my first vlog, lol.

Be happy, love yourself, and remember to always be grateful. Always keep in mind that your family will always be there for you during difficult times (and in some special case a very few selected friends will be there as well). For me? I don’t mind having few friends since I know that I am very strange and not many people can accept me for who I am 🙂 Happy summer holiday everyone!

This summer holiday I will just do experiment and spring back and forth between Suzukakedai to Tsukuba to learn crystallographic refinement, very necessary for my first publication ^^

 

It’s okay to be an underdog, just be a beautiful one ❤

 

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And you can still be a hero 🙂

 

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With love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Little Fighter With a Big Dream

 

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Hello, back with me here.

So right now I am enjoying a “holiday” period at home. I was diagnosed with Influenza A on Monday and according to the school’s policy I should not go to school for 5 days. According to my academic supervisor i should not think about research this week, lol. So here I am, just lingering with all my thoughts, writing from my bed.

 

 

So, what’s happening lately other than Influenza?

Well, I think something quite やばい is happening to my life right now. Of course, my problem is really tiny compared to some real world problems (like war, world hunger, poverty, drought, or pandemic disease). However, I learned so much from all my experiences, that’s why I think it is good to share it here..

 

 

はい、始めましょう。

I hope no one will get offended with my post. Anyway, if anyone feels offended, please contact me immediately through personal chat, I will discard this post.

But I hope not. This is just a little writing to encourage all people with similar experience as me to move forward 🙂

 

 

I struggle with self-esteem and confidence issues a lot.

I was bullied several times (I will not tell any detail here). Based on my experiences, I exactly know how destructive words can be for someone’s mental health.

Not that I want to underestimate the physical form of bullying, of course it is such a detrimental thing as well, but believe me, words can stab you just like the sharpest knife that cut your throat. I was lucky all the time I always have adequate mental support from my family and religion. Although not much, I also have best friends.

But yes, it left me scar.

I am always overcautious when dealing with new people, I am always afraid that people might not like me for who I am. I never feel good enough, although my GPA was like the best in my batch or I had a very good music career at that time.

 

Moving to Japan. I see Japan as a beautiful country that respect many beautiful values For a split second, I think this is my opportunity to be completely free from my self-esteem issue because no one will ever disturb me. But I was wrong.

It’s not because of the country. Indonesia is also a very beautiful country that respect many dignified values. Bullying attitude is a personal problem from the bullier, you can meet bullier basically anywhere.

Even in Mars, if you can find any intelligent life forms there, lol.

 

 

To make one and a half year of story short, and to avoid going into any detail I will just say that, yes, I experience bullying here.

It’s severe because here I only have my research. I don’t have my music career as my backup because I only play music here for a hobby. I do not have my family here 24/7, of course I have my best friends here 24/7, but sometimes nothing can beat your Mom’s hug, right? I have so many responsibilities in my hand as one of the most senior student in my lab. Most importantly, I haven’t published any international scientific journal yet. And it’s killing me, man~

I learned through some psychological article and discussion with my sisters, that all these times I’ve been a victim of gaslighting. And that’s really true! At times, I really doubt my own sanity, whether or not the mean conversations, the bad words, the hurting words, ever happened in the first place.

 

Yes, maybe I am weak, but at least I am brave enough to say that I crumbled and seek for help! If you’re bullied, it’s okay, even your courage to admit that you are being bullied and hurt is already one step forward!!!

Next step? Seek for help! Don’t be afraid, there must be someone that still wants to listen to you out there! Go to your teacher, go to your counseling department at your school, go everywhere, as long as you can still talk and still continue going to school! :’)

 

 

All praise to Allah. I still have a great support system from my family, Sensei, and best friends. All praise to Allah I still can think clearly and finally being able to speak out and fight back all the injustice even a little. All praise to Allah even know I have influenza so I can rest peacefully and think even clearer ..

 

 

To end this post I just want to say that every people in this world is a fighter. You might not see how people struggle in their life. But I believe, to reach their success, everyone will have their own way, their own time, and ways. Maybe, you might not be able to see how people evolve because you think they are too slow according to your pace. Maybe you might think that you are just so much better than someone else. But please, respect other people’s struggle.

You might not know what they have sacrificed to be here right now.

Just as much as you think you have fought, everyone also fight hard for their life 🙂

 

 

To all my little fighter buddies, I cannot say how much I owe you for all of your kindness, mental support and encouragement.

I pray to God, not only for our success in the future but also for our golden heart to remain unchanged for worldly success. I pray for a kind heart willing to help others and speak the truth gently.

 

 

To be a little fighter with a big dream that will achieve big but never belittle others.

 

 

With loads of love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema