Independence is magic because it doesn’t actually exist.

I learned today that no matter how hard I may try to be a self-reliant, self-supporting student who searches for internships, I will forever be dependent on the professors who give me the grade to actually demonstrate that I’ve earned it.

Yes, you read that right. I, the lowly student who bangs her head against the books in order for the knowledge to sink in, must still depend on the professor for giving me the letter that indicates how well I have done. And that single letter, that one dot of ink on the page clearly indicates how many textbook pages I’ve read and how many hours I’ve spent jotting note after note on a page. Even after months of slavery to this institution that they call education, I’m still indebted to them.

Only this time, it’s for a letter of a different kind.

Those dastardly letters of recommendation.

I have worried sick about the possibility of those letters getting lost in the mail (I’m glaring at you, U.S. Postal System) and I’ve gnawed my poor fingernails down to the bone over whether or not my countless hours have actually made an impression. I’ve nagged via email until I sound like an unhappy wife.

And yes, it wouldn’t have made any difference. Today I am free. I am free of the deadline of applications. I am free of the possibility that the internet would fail me and refuse to upload my resume and CV. I am free of the burden of asking people with authority to respectfully recommend me to other people.

Only to replace it the ball and chain of waiting for responses from the schools I applied to. I spent all my time worrying if other people would be able to finish my applications for me by writing letters and now I get to depend on the other side of the equation to actually answer me back.

This is why students take so long to learn independence. Because with the title of student comes the inevitable responsibility to depend on others.

Sacrifice the illusion that you already know yourself.

Yesterday, I announced my excitement about the addition of elements to the Periodic Table (no, I’m still not over it…). However, that wasn’t the best part of the day.

Multiple friends sent me links to the CNN article that I posted here for you, dear reader. Many of them left comments like “I thought of you as soon as I saw this!” or “Are you still going to wear your sweatshirt?” or “Science nerds unite!” One even just tagged my name with multiple exclamation points — I understand how she couldn’t find the words to express her excitement.

As sweet as it was, my favorite part was this: despite the fact that I dress like the girls you see on Pinterest, I am wholeheartedly a science nerd. On the outside, I give no indication that I’m in labs from 8-5 and only had a cup of coffee and a granola bar to eat all day.  I don’t often tell you that I have dead fruit flies all over my notebook because I was counting them for a K test.  I don’t even tell you that I swabbed my hands in Microbiology and have way more bacteria on them than I care to admit.  And I don’t tell you (except for right now), that I find all of those things incredibly awesome!

But these people, my friends, my family, they know exactly what my passion is.  They know that one of my favorite places is in the lab at 10:30 at night listening to sad love songs and counting fruit flies (and if they didn’t, they know it now).

They know me.  And just a few days into 2016 as I’m reflecting on where I want to see personal growth and what my priorities are, I realize just how important that really is.

Thank you friends.

There’s something endearing about scientists that stutter.

I got a coffee cup with the periodic table of elements on it for Christmas and 10 days later, it’s already out of date.  When I drink from this cup or wear my periodic table sweatshirt (yes, I do have one of those and yes, you should get one too), I will be sporting a vintage look even though both of these things are less than a year old.

Bestill my beating heart, you say.  Do you mean –?

Yes I do, dear reader.  The periodic table has four new elements.

“IUPAC has now initiated the process of formalizing names and symbols for these elements temporarily named as ununtrium, (Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118).”

I am a little upset that we can’t keep the old names.  There’s nothing so endearing as someone smarter than you sounding like they are stuttering when they try to explain something.

If we are taking a vote, I suggest Midichlorium.  (If you get this, you are allowed to continue following this blog.  If not, you may be lacking in nerdity and should get that checked out.)

Lament the ceasing of a sweeter breath

I’ve officially entered the 21st year of my life.  New Year’s Eve has always been a low-key affair for me.  I guess I was always drowning in the reflections of the previous year and the high expectations and resolution for the coming one to ever be distracted by sparking grape juice and a ball of LED lights sliding 10 feet down a pole in a city that has never held much allure for me.

If you don’t believe me, I almost missed the ball drop this year.  And what was I doing?  Trying to peel the stupid gold foil off another bottle of sparking grape juice.  (Come on packaging company, there’s already a seal.  Why do you put the gold foil on there? Is it necessary? WHY?!)  Anyway, I had about 10 seconds of warning thanks to the TV that started screaming at me.

I welcomed the new year with four other people: my boyfriend, my best friend from high school, her boyfriend, and my little 11-year-old brother.  I also got a kiss on the cheek at 12:00:02.  And voila! 2016 appeared.

My 1st year of life entered with me screaming and my 21st started with a kiss.  I’d say I’m getting better at this life thing.  Perhaps it’s my reflective ways and how diligently I complete my resolutions (…haha…yeah…I couldn’t even type that with a straight face).

But in all honesty, I am quite reflective at the transition between years.  And I always start with the negative things.  Maybe I think I can just get them out of the way, I don’t know.  At church yesterday, I heard a sermon that I greatly appreciated and that fit the atmosphere of my thoughts.  I spent an hour listening to the necessity of lamentations.

Before I lose you and you click to another, more exciting, more positive blog, hear me out: there is nothing more important in the world than learning how to handle your emotions.  Why?  Because everyone has strong emotions — both positive and negative — and everyone will need to deal with them at some point.

No one needed to teach you how to lament because it is a natural part of the fabric of a world that is broken.  To be human is to lament.

This comes naturally.  Grief is sprinkled with laments like cheese on a pizza, like sprinkles on a cupcake, like cinnamon on the whip cream of a Starbucks latte…you get my point.  And you can grieve anything!  You can grieve the brokenness of a friendship, the miscommunication in a relationship, the inevitable growth into adulthood and loss of childhood innocence, the failure to make the grade, the death of a fuzzy, four-legged friend, the shattering of expectations.  The list goes on and no.  Unfortunately, our lives will always be punctuated with grief.

And yet, my pastor goes on to say this:

Here is something that is very counter intuitive:  lament and despair are complete opposites.  Despair is the ultimate manifestation of unbelief and a denial that God exists, while lament is one of the deepest and most costly demonstrations of belief in God.

If, in your despair, you refuse to talk to God, you are killing the one thing that might save you: communication.  Think about it in the context of marriage counseling.  If a couple isn’t talking, that’s a major red flag.  They don’t care anymore.  There’s no more effort.  The silence is worse than if they were fighting.  And you know why?

Because talking can show you where the trouble areas are, what you care enough to argue about, and that you are still willing to put in effort. Messy talking is still good.  Messy talking will still get you somewhere.

The stagnancy will kill you.  Scientifically, if something is not growing or evolving, then it is moving towards death and decay.  Grief is only poisonous when it stands still.

Lament is where you go while in pain with the faith-filled belief that one day God will bring resolution to all of this.  Lament is where you live or (better) how you live when your life doesn’t end like a Hallmark movie.

The Hallmark channel is simultaneously my favorite and most hated channel.  I love it because things will always go right and the happy ending will always come — in this life, I like seeing the possibility of that good thing actually happening.  However, I want to go through and strangle each and every character because I know that life doesn’t actually happen like that!  It doesn’t!  I don’t care how many attractive, sweet, thoughtful guys in the movie offer the girl a cup of coffee and understand all of her dreams and longings and endure with her despite the obstacles — it won’t happen.

(Y’all know I’m right).

But just because the end isn’t easy or pretty or all tied up with a bow, doesn’t mean that the end won’t come.  That’s the thing about lament; the resolution will always come.

So maybe 2016 will turn out to be great.  Maybe it won’t.  I’m fine as long as it doesn’t turn into a repeat of 2014 (that year was a pain, in more ways than one).  I’m okay with another 2015 — but then I have to worry about that cesspool stagnancy.

I guess no matter what 2016 brings, I welcome it with open arms.  Hello, old friend, new year.

This is the link where I took the block quotes: