what I learned from my trip to DC
My parents would never have expected me to be an extrovert as I mature into my adulthood by how shy and demure I had been as a baby girl. Even I surprised myself. While this has brought me to meet many interesting people and places in life, it is becoming apparent that this change also causes difficulties for me to work alone in an environment lacking human interactions. For months while working remotely while living Seattle, rowing in the morning has given not only me a regular schedule to frame my days, but also THE only one dependable opportunity for that much missed human interactions.
It has been more than seven months since I saw my colleagues and friends in DC. I decided that it was time to pop back in and say hi for a week. The week went by quickly and I am not returning home, absolutely exhausted, with a bundle of unexpected lessons (in no particular order).
1. Do not listen to other people’s opinions: I’m not sure how this will come in handy but I read it from The Last Lecture.
2. Kill a python: As if my dissertation was a python, I can either kill it or I can turn around to where I came from. In my mind returning is not a choice, so I’ve got to kill it.
3. Be at the right place at the right time and talking to the right people: working in the office everyday gives me a feeling that to be effective I need to be there. Making connections, discovering projects, and at times promoting your intellectual ideas to the right problems just in time.
4. People change: Surprise surprise. Friendship built on many assumptions that no longer exist may also dissipate. In actually they may have just been and ought to be weak ties.
5. Kindred spirits only grow stronger over time: In contrary to the last lesson, great friendship would also be great regardless the lack of continuity of time or space. It was such a pleasant surprise to meet up with Scott in DC and go salsa dancing.
Crab feast in Annapolis
6. Maintain low expectations and high level planning: I don’t like going on a trip planning every detail of who to meet where to go at exactly what time. I like to maintain a high level sense of what I really want to do and for whatever reasons, what’s supposed to happen naturally would happen. I got to spend time with just about everyone that I wanted, and a few that I didn’t expect. Hurray!!
7. When one door fails to open, new windows may open: When my flight got canceled when Chad was just about to drive me to the airport, I found myself three extra hours to visit Ray’s Hell Burger that I couldn’t fit into my schedule. And OMG, just let me tell you that you have not lived until you have been to hell and then heaven in one bite of that burger. It was the best $8 I spent on food in DC evah, better than $30 crabs or $25 tiny plate of tapas.
8. BFFs are real important: one of my favorite nights was meeting up with the girls. Proseco, pizza and gelato. Simple and fun. I missed that much in Seattle.
9. Smile because you are about to meet a new friend: on my way out to DC in the flight, I met Jude. It all started with a simple smile and my ingenious opening line (quoting Chad), “So, do you have to set your cell phone to airplane mode first in order to turn it on in air or you could turn it on and then change it to that mode?” Four hours later, Jude and I became friends and exchanged contact information
10. Make sure to prioritize sleep and plan in downtimes during long trips: I had never been so tired for such a long time. Sleeping only a few hours a day made me drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day and binging on carbs. It sucked big time. I spent almost my entire 14 hours of return trip to sleep and am still very tired.
11. Distance makes the heart fonder: need I say more? I am however reconfirmed that I do not like long distance relationships of any sort.
12. Commitment to understanding: This trip had surprised me with finding kindred spirits. I decided to make a new commitment to these special people, which is my commitment to truly understanding them. Misunderstanding may be unpleasant at times, arguments may ensue, but unlike my usual style, I have decided to stick around and face the differences straight in the face. I am committed to sit here and listen no matter how tired I may be, how intense the air was. We’d listen and talk to each other until we understood each other. Agreement is not the key but acknowledgement. Agree to disagree and respect. I have found a few kindred spirits.