It’s Okay to not be Okay

We all struggle with moments and experiences that challenge us. That make us scared. Times when we feel frozen, stuck, and hopeless. We feel lost and confused.

Think about a time when you felt this way. What was going on in your head? What emotions were you feeling?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way before. A few days ago, I was feeling sick of everything. There was too much to do. I felt like I was running from one thing to the next — and not just physically, but mentally as well. I felt angry at the circumstances I was in, and I desperately wanted it all to just STOP. I needed quiet, peace, and comfort. But in the hustle and bustle of life, I found none.

I felt anxious. Tired. Scared. Angry. Confused. At one point, I even felt that there was simply no point of doing anything at all. Sleep? No. Eat? No. Play? No. Work? No. On the outside, I am sure I looked okay. I can hold things together quite well in times of stress, you see. And so can many of us. We have trained ourselves to appear well and ‘put together’ in these moments because we know that despite feeling frustrated and tired, life still moves on. And so, we ‘suck it up’ and try to carry on.

But inside, I felt awful. I wanted to scream. To tell someone that I was TIRED. I was SAD. I felt so confused at the way I was feeling — I did not want to study or go to work, and yet, I loved these things dearly. I did not want to play or talk to my loved ones or friends, although I knew that these people cared for me. I did not want to sleep, because doing so made me feel like I was running away from my challenges. So, what could I do?

Image result for allow yourself to feel your emotions it is okay to bareAt that moment, I burst. I cried and cried and cried. And you know what? I felt better afterwards. I realized that for so long, I had been holding this pain and stress inside. I was trying so much to show that I was strong, to not let anyone feel my pain. I did not want to hurt my loved ones around me and make them feel sad or worried about me. But crying was immensely therapeutic. Idiscovered that though I am strong, I am also capable of feeling emotions. I am allowed to release my anger, sadness, and frustrations by crying — and that doesn’t make me weak or vulnerable. I am entitled to tell myself when things are tough now, I can still feel worried and scared — and that is normal.

I am learning to let myself feel emotions and express them. This is a big change for me. For so long, I have huddled these feelings inside of me, worried that I will make my family and friends sad. I told myself that I could not cry or be sad because that meant I was weak. But I am learning that all emotions are healthy, as long as I express them in positive and meaningful ways. 

And so after I cried, I felt relieved. Did my problems magically disappear? No. But I felt honest with myself. I realized that I am a strong individual who is not afraid to express sadness, frustration, and fatigue. I am human and I am capable of feeling a range of emotions. That is what makes me in touch with my brain, body, and soul. It is not shameful to cry, just like it is appropriate to laugh. There is a season for all emotions, and expressed appropriately, this can be therapeutic and healthy. And although crying may seem like a ‘depressing’ activity, it is actually very therapeutic to let yourself feel these emotions and take the time to acknowledge that things are tough right now. One day they will get better — and inside, you know that this is true. Your prior experiences have shown you that you are able to defeat these tribulations, and that you are strong enough to pass through your obstacles. 

Image result for this will passYou are okay, just the way you are. Positive emotions, and difficult emotions. Moments of sadness and frustration, and moments of happiness and laughter. You are human — and you are allowed to feel this way. It is okay to not be okay.

But just remember, after you are not ‘okay’, think about what makes you OKAY. Think about how strong, beautiful, capable, and amazing you are. Think about the things that make you proud of yourself. Think about the blessings you have, and the talents you own. Think about the beauties you have experienced, the treasures that make you smile, and the warmth that fills your heart.

Things will be okay. You will be okay. Keep fighting, dear warrior. Because the battle may be tough, but you are tougher.

Setting Intentions

If you have been following this blog over the years, you will know that I am not big on ‘resolutions’ for the New Year. Not because I do not think setting goals is important, or because I think we should not strive to do better in the new year. However, my issue with resolutions is that society makes it seem that we need to set one huge big fancy thing that we will work on for the year. And often, these resolutions become redundant — such as weight loss, exercise, healthy eating, etc. And while these are important, I do not think making a resolution is important. It is the ACTION PLAN that is.

This is why I like intentions. I feel that they are more goal-directed and achievable. Allow me to explain. A resolution could be ‘this year, I resolve to eat more vegetables and exercise more’. If you try that for a week or two, you may not be able to sustain it.

Meanwhile, an intention could be ‘this year, I intend on becoming physically and mentally stronger. To do this, I will eat foods that nourish my body and I will move my body in ways that makes me feel good. I can do this by having an apple each morning with breakfast, and I will take a walk every Sunday evening’.

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See the difference? Intentions allow us to not only think about WHAT we want to do, but HOW we are going to them. When setting intentions, it is helpful to think about whether or not they are doable. For example, we have all heard that goals should be ‘SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented’. But I will be the first to admit that I don’t always use this when making my goals. This year, however, I know that if I do not make my intentions SMART, I will not be able to sustain them long-term. I need to challenge myself by making intentions, but if they are not sustainable or something hat I can reasonably do, I will give up after one or two weeks.

And finally, resolutions tend to make us feel hopeless when we are not successful at first. ‘Oh no. I did not read my daily meditation for two days, like my resolution was. This sucks. I cannot achieve this resolution. Oh, well. There is always next year. Or maybe I should change my resolution….?’

This sets us up for failure — and makes us feel that we cannot achieve anything. Instead of thinking like this, look at why your goal did not work out. Was it too big of a jump at once? Did you forget to think about how you would actually achieve the goal given your resources and demands? Do you need to look back on your intention and understand WHY it is important to you — and whether or not you REALLY want this? This is the beauty of intentions — it gets us to reflect on our goals, the actions we will take to achieve them, and how we are going to get there. Intentions helps us be present in the moment, and focus on what we CAN do, rather than what we CANNOT do.
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This year, if you are setting a goal or intention, be patient with yourself. Make an action plan, and try your best. And if it does not work out, find out why. Remind yourself of why this intention is important to you. And try your best. It is never ever ever too late to start again, to try something new, and to set another intention.

The Molecular Structure of Biopolymers: Developing Nanopores as Probes

A hallmark of modern science has been the continual development of experimental strategies to observe individual atomic scale ‘events’. These strategies ultimately rely on significantly amplifying the consequences of a selective microscopic interaction, for example the chemical development of a silver halide grain in a photographic emulsion, or the charge amplification in electron multiplier devices. Research performed by members of the nanopore research group at Harvard has shown that individual polymers associated with replication and regulation of life, DNA and RNA, can be registered and characterized singly with a new kind of detector, a nanopore.

A nanopore can be a protein channel in a lipid bilayer or an extremely small isolated ‘hole’ in a thin, solid-state membrane. For a nanopore to be useful as a single molecule detector, its diameter must not be much larger than the size of the molecule to be detected — just a few tens of Angstroms across. When a single molecule enters a nanopore in an insulating membrane, it causes changes in the nanopore’s electrical properties that are readily detected with modern electronic devices and circuits. The mission of the Nanopore Group at Harvard is to study the science of single molecules in nanopores. Our aim is to use this knowledge to develop an ultra high-speed method for sequencing DNA, but we are also developing a number of other important, but less demanding, applications that utilize the extraordinary sensitivity and speed of nanopore probing. On the path to achieving sequencing, we are modeling the physics of DNA polymer movement through the confined space of a nanopore, coordinating the application of material science tools to fabricate solid-state nanopores, and developing the associated biochemistry, molecular biology, electronics, and signal processing to effect molecular recognition.