Tuesday December 14th

Spacing Out and Winding down

I’ve been spacing out lately

  • I’ve been told that the longer I spend in Pure Mathematics, the more this will become a thing. It’s not bad, but it does lead to embarrassing situations. As an example, about a week ago, I mistook a zoom call for a phone call, and arrived late because of it. I’m usually very on top of that sort of thing, (I hate being late!!! In the Film industry, people would say that if you’re late, you’ve already pissed someone off) but my mind was just on Abstract Algebra that morning.
  • For that reason, some things I ordinarily would have at the forefront of my mind have just been completely missing. And on a personal level, I’m sorry about that. I do plan that over the break, I’ll get to answering some emails and being a bit more organized, but I’ll probably be prioritizing a few things that include: family and inner circle time, Real Analysis time, and some other stuff.
  • I don’t have much time before break, and I do have some stuff to get done so I can leave the country, so a lot of the answering of emails and some other stuff related to that is just going to have to get done while I’m not on campus. This might be interesting to see how my disposition changed based on environment (heh).
  • My spelling and grammar have deteriorated significantly, because I just rotate shapes (Combinatorics thank you) and move letters around in my head (hi Algebra) all day now and show that they’re equal on both sides. Great; I’m retrogressing while obtaining an advanced degree. Sounds about right.

Looking back on this year

  • I started the year thinking that I’d like to produce a larger paper for a conference, and well, that didn’t happen (wonk wonk).
  • Instead, I ended up unexpectedly falling in love with Pure Mathematics and Isogeny Cryptography, and pivoting to do that.
  • Yes, I still do some AI research (although I cower in shame at the thought because I hate the phrase, to be honest), but a lot of what I’m learning right now is Elliptic Curves and Abstract Algebra, with a sprinkling of Graph Theory and Combinatorics.
  • Something about saying “AI Research” to me feels like I should be wearing a headset in front of thousands of “techies” screaming “disrupt the singularity” and “emulate the human brain” and “the future” over and over. I need to take a shower now.
  • But it feels different. I don’t feel like it’s been lost time, or I’ve self-sabotaged. I feel like I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’ve made so many friends this year, thought more deeply about material than I had in the past, and it’s really affected my outlook. I also seriously started thinking that I want to pursue a postdoc. If you knew me at the beginning of my PhD, you’d probably think that my state has some great herbs that I must have sampled. It doesn’t sound like the old me at all. I’ve been “indoctrinated”, “brainwashed”. “Please blink twice if you need help”. Or maybe I’ve just learned more about who I really am. And that is worth all the time it’s taken me.
  • I also seriously planned out the rest of my time at school, which feels pretty great. Again, it may not work out 100% the way I expect, but that’s okay.
  • I secured an internship in a field I never imagined I’d work in, and feel pretty great about it. It was the first year I’ve stood up for myself and for my worth in interviewing. I decided that I should do that more. In every way (comp, how I was treated, etc) it worked to my advantage, and I’m intrigued and happy. This year, I was fortunate to pick and choose out of offers what I wanted, what would intellectually engage me (and interestingly, it wasn’t tech).

Technical or Not Technical

  • At the beginning of my PhD, I thought often about whether I was “technical enough”; it was a grenade someone could throw my way to rattle my self-confidence.
  • These days, I call malarkey on that assumption. I had a conversation with a mentor recently, where they told me that basically, there will always be someone who has it in their mind that you are not (fill in blanks) enough, and their goal is to prove those assumptions. And that’s pretty true, so I should focus less of my energy on that. They also told me that there will always be someone who decides that they don’t love your work, so you shouldn’t expect that people will. Continue to do it because you do. Every single day since I’ve begun work this year, I have loved it. And even on days when I have had limited energy, it has pushed me through. I haven’t really had that before.

For the New Year

  • A friend of mine lost their soulmate this year, and to be honest, I struggle with what to tell them when I know that they are clearly grieving. And on the other hand, I have this deep desire to reach out, to console them. Part of my desire to return home comes from the fact that these kinds of things ground me, even while navigating the world of Academia. With all the papers, the toxicity, the grandiosity, this part of life (loss and grief) is real.
  • I might make a post with pretty pictures, because I have missed the country I was born in so much. It’s a difficult thing to reconcile, because I know that it certainly not be the same one I left, and it will have changed, but there is a deep need to return and reconcile the dissonace of what I imagine it to be and what it is (in its actual present existence).
  • What brings me back to the US is my classes (!!!!), my research, my internship, my desire to persevere and finish, and to continue to work with all the peers and people I’ve met along the way. Also, a desire to see what’s next.
  • I’m on a Slack group with some awesome tech people, and one of them asked me how I have so much energy and accomplish so much each week, and I told them, it was because I really enjoyed everything. Yes, I am salty and sassy and sharp tongued from time to time, and pretty outspoken, but I really do enjoy everything, I enjoy helping people and seeing them succeed, and I want to live to see all these people who I’ve met along the way achieve their goals, too.
  • But for now…upcoming rest is at hand.

And that’s it

Written on December 14, 2021