Revathi Reddy • Posted: December 1, 2020
2020 was a year like no other, if only I had a dollar every time someone said this. Just when I thought that working in the lab and living life as a grad student was hard, 2020 hit and raised the bar of challenges. As we now crawl to a finish line, I took a moment to reflect on this unusual year, count my blessings and share some of the lessons that I learned:
When I had to dump my bacterial cultures and clean up my bench in preparation for an indeterminate shutdown in March, I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Little did I know that ‘work-from-home’ would become our new normal soon and force us to adapt to it. What seemed like an endless period of disruption did come to an end eventually and many of the labs re-opened, only to shut down again in a few months. If there is one thing that the series of unprecedented events in 2020 has taught me, it is that there is no escaping change. I have come to realize that changes and disruptions are inevitable in life and all that matters is how we embrace them.
Are there any of us who have not heard this phrase at least once in every virtual meeting that we have had this year? One of my favourite positive changes of 2020 is the way we connect and communicate with each other. Imagine the amount of time and money we saved this year by avoiding travel and attending conferences at the comfort of our homes. While there is no denying that some of us miss the ‘personal touch’, virtual events have made knowledge more accessible to a wider audience.
If you love being a bench scientist like me then what better place than your kitchen oven to try some culinary experiments? The very process of baking can be extremely soothing and therapeutic. Trying to bake some intricate recipes was my way of escaping the chaos and scary news for a few hours. But, it does not always have to be about sourdoughs, cakes and cookies. Having a hobby and indulging in activities that don’t directly relate to your degree can help relieve some stress.
Being an international student who lives thousands of miles away from home made coping with the pandemic much harder. I often found myself worrying about the constantly evolving situation and the health of my family members back home. I realized that I am not alone and that there are many others who feel the same. One eventually has to come to terms with the fact that stressing yourself out when you do not have any control over the situation will worsen your physical and mental well-being. The key is to reach out for support and share your experiences with people who are in the same boat as you.
As we usher into a new year filled with hope and new opportunities, one big lesson that I would carry forward from 2020 is that while we can always wish for more, it is important to be grateful for what we have. Celebrate every small achievement and give yourself a pat on the back for making it through this year.
Here’s to wishing everyone a holiday season filled with happiness, safety, good health and a wonderful 2021!
Revathi is pursuing her Masters in Chemical Biology in Derda Lab at the University of Alberta. She is also the Communications officer for the 2020-2021 GlycoNet Trainee Association – Executive Committee. Follow Revathi on Twitter (@reddyrevathi96) and Instagram (@revanescent96).
Canadian Glycomics Network
E5-33 Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre
University of Alberta, T6G 2G2
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