On Overwhelm

Tears in my eyes right now. Deep breaths. Inbox filled with commitments that are not impossible to achieve, but require a tremendous amount of effort to pull through. Commitments that are self-inflicted. Commitments that were carefully chosen to align with what I truly want to do, not what other people want me to do– to provide students with extra opportunity to do funded research, to organize an event to bring the maker movement to more people, to further develop my research skills by crafting my own PhD topic, to test the waters of an administrative position, to see if I could actually find funding to fly one of my role models in Humanitarian Engineering from the other side of the world to our beloved UP Diliman, to test myself if I could design and 3D print something that people will use to further public school education in our country (even if my part of that project is just small, haha).

The first four months of the year was filled with decision-making. Which opportunities should I pursue? Which ones should I let go? Decisiveness is still a work in progress, but I’d like to believe that I am better now than when I started.

The tears are not solely because of joy or fear or stress or confusion or gratefulness or excitement or frustration. The tears represent all those emotions happening at the same time! Tears of overwhelm! :’D



On Momentum

If there is one thing I’d like to learn from a Ph.D. degree, it would probably be efficient and impactful academic writing. I have always loved writing since I was a kid, which is why I have this blog until now. But blogging, or any other type of “leisurely” writing, is different from academic writing. The latter is still very challenging for me, especially building and sustaining the momentum for it. I think one thing that makes it really challenging is the fact that I always want to be handling multiple projects at any given time. If I’m only doing one, it is very likely that I would involve myself in two or more projects. Thus, my attention will be divided instead of focusing on writing just one paper at a time.

Take now, for example. I have a paper that I could’ve finished weeks before had my attention not been divided on other things. Project proposals, events organizing, class preparations, checking of papers, building collaborations, student mentoring, etc. I tell myself that I could’ve stayed up late just to finish this paper earlier. But starting last March, I promised myself that I would prioritize my health. Ever since I got back from the US, I found myself always sick. I was always coughing and even down with fever at the start of every month from Jan-March. So I said my staying up late, skipping breakfast to get to class on time, and other unhealthy practices just to get more work done, all of it has to stop. I eventually managed to start exercising regularly, to stop waking up at wee hours of the morning to prepare a lecture, to eat a decent breakfast and regularly take multivitamins. Fortunately, it all paid off! I felt good about my body again, I was no longer getting sick, and I had a more positive outlook towards work. Stress became more manageable.

Of course, these positive effects came with sacrifices, especially in work output. I have a tendency to demand too much from myself and my doing other things for health and wellness lowered that demand a bit, which makes me feel really uneasy. There’s always that voice in my head asking, “Hey, shouldn’t you be working harder?” But let’s see. I’m still figuring out if I will really end up being more productive with this new work practice of mine compared with the old one. I want to learn to work smarter, not harder.

I’ll end here for now. I really should be writing my paper instead of blogging. But since I’m building momentum, I reckoned that writing blog posts would get me in the mood to write the paper after. Gaaah. Let’s do this.

On Ultimatums

So I received an ultimatum for the first time in my life. Finish the revision. I’m so near. But at the same time, my body is feeling the consequences. Just a little more. I’ll have a little breather this weekend. Just survive today and Friday first. One day at a time. You’re building a career. You’re building on your dreams. Sacrifice first.

Midterm exam. Paper revision. 3D printing forum. CHED zonal hearing (among others)… almost happening all at the same time. (Aba, eh ginusto mo lahat ‘yan! #selfinflicted LOL. Ano bang ginawa mo, Jill? Na-excite ng husto bumalik sa trabaho??? XD)

Let only encouraging words echo in your mind. Forget the other noises that distract you. Be single minded on this one. Focus.

“You will be rewarded by another paper that will impact your career and you can get financially rewarded as a first author. It will be a highly cited review.”
God be with me. All for You!!! Waaaahh, hold on sanity!!! BAWAL SUMUKO. MAY PAGASA PA ANG PAPEL NA ‘TO!!!

On Essentialism


Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, was such a great read! It’s written in a very simple and structured way that it becomes easy to follow and understand. The book also inspires action so much that I finally gathered the courage to turn down a very good opportunity in order to focus on what is really essential to me. It felt liberating and empowering to take control of the choices I make. If it doesn’t contribute to what matters, don’t waste time and energy in it. The next challenge is to sustain this practice!

This book is worth your hard-earned money. I strongly recommend it! :)

On Difficult People

The article below is very applicable to my experience last year. It’s a good reminder for me, especially now that I’m having unavoidable contact through email with some of the difficult people from last year. Their mere online presence still has a tendency to suck out energy, but the distance makes it easier to keep negative effects at bay.

I recalled what my PI taught me as I sat in his office last year and cried in front of him: “You have to be stronger than this. Be single-minded, there is work to do.” I guess single-mindedness has its merits for certain circumstances. It keeps you focused on what’s important. (My PI panicked a bit when he saw tears fall from my eyes to the point that he offered me Kimwipes to wipe my tears. Kimwipes! Talk about panicking! XD His gesture made it a totally unforgettable moment :P)

Okay, Jill. Your PI opened a door for you. Let’s make the most out of this. Navigate carefully.

“They don’t die in the fight. Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual.”

Article: Here’s How to Effectively Deal with Difficult People

On Resting

So the body gave up. I was down with flu since yesterday morning. The weeklong sleep deprivation took its toll. And it’s weird, even though I tried to be efficient, there’s still that feeling that I can do more if only I manage my time better. But sometimes, things just don’t go as expected. Meetings run longer than planned, writing took longer than usual, memories from last year would resurface leaving me paralyzed for a time.

On the brighter side, I can say that my “academic endurance” did improve. I was able to pull-off my lecture class despite preparing just hours before (not something I should be proud of, but if it was the Jill back in 2015, I would’ve canceled my class already if I wasn’t prepared the night before).

Planning and visualization. These two probably took much of my time. I plan for current projects. I visualize future projects. I scavenge the Internet for sources of funding, for organizations that share the same vision, for people I can meet with to get inspiration and ideas from. Then I imagine the possibilities. What happens if this project becomes a success? A failure? But mostly I dwell on the former (being the stubborn optimist that I am).

Then I was appointed as the new program coordinator for Materials Engineering. Ideas start brewing in my head again. I finish the Individual Development Plan (IDP) document. I tell myself that if I could help someone last year who just ended up treating me like trash after supposedly showing him that he could dream big and actually achieve it, then I will do everything I can to help my fellow faculty grow in their career as well. This amazing group of people who, despite our individual differences, I have regarded as my family since 2013.

Routine. Something I used to detest, but slowly learning to appreciate. I had to develop a routine when I went back to work last January: this time is allotted for traveling to and from work, lecture prep, writing, eating, taking a bath, etc. But one thing I have yet to incorporate is exercise. Obviously, my being sick now is a mayday call to quickly put exercise into my routine.

Alright. I guess I have to end here now. I haven’t checked my email yet since yesterday. I missed a deadline last Friday so I’m expecting a not-so-good email in my inbox when I open it later. But what the heck, all I can do is my best. I’m sure I did what I can, given my circumstances. Brush it off, stand up, smile, and move forward. :)