(Fall)ing, in more ways than one.
November updates from an ambitious 16-year-old biotech nerd :)
Who doesn’t love getting back up after a fall? For me, that’s what November consisted of. The projects I took on required a long cycle of presenting, receiving unsugarcoated feedback, and revising. Let’s get into it!
If you’re new here: Hey, welcome! I’m an ambitious learner diving into human longevity and biotech. Reach out and shoot me a book recommendation anytime! (seriously, I’m curious) :))
This Mindset Taught me Life Direction 💡
Despite the clickbait-sounding title, I mean it. This month, I experienced my fair share of personal challenges, and carrying this mindset is what helped me gradually get back up stronger than before. After a fascinating conversation with a friend, I learned to frame my life as a free-body diagram:
I’m the object, being acted upon by internal forces. When there are multiple forces in different directions acting upon me, the distance I move is very little. However, when these forces are aligned to push me in the same direction, I can move a great distance. These forces are the activities you dedicate your time to. Knowing this, you can determine what your internal forces are, and the degree to which they’ll help you reach your destination (goals).
But knowledge is nothing without action. The moment after I clicked “Leave Meeting,” it was whiteboard time. I listed the main activities I was involved in, then drew arrows to assess whether it would push me in the direction of my goals. My criteria were simple:
Does this align with my goals and passion?
Do I love this activity?
Over the next few weeks, I figured out ways to respectfully leave behind irrelevant extracurriculars slowing me down. Even when opportunities did come up, such as a friend offering me a Secretariat position in MUN, I turned them down if I knew that: A) they don’t align with my goals, and the tradeoffs outweigh any possible gains, and B) I have zero interest in this activity.
Thinking about your activities in terms of magnitude and direction can force (pun intended) you to start working towards your goals, leaving behind all that slows you down. Put it in action!
P.S. This mindset has my physics teacher’s seal of approval!
IgNITE Medical Case Competition 🧬
I started actively seeking out opportunities centred around bio and medicine after adopting the FBD mindset and was lucky enough to stumble upon this competition. The prompt was to research and present an abstract with regenerative medicine as a focus.
Along the way, my team (Anastasija, Maya, and Erica) dove into a scary, magical world of research and literature. When questions came up that research couldn’t sufficiently answer, we turned to professors and experts.
After a hectic month of research, feedback and changing our idea several times, we wrote an abstract on using mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes to treat cystic fibrosis!
Check out our elevator pitch as well using this secret link 😉
Everyone Deserves Safe Water - the TKS City Challenge 💧
When social justice meets tech meets Jaden Smith, you know you’ve got a whirlwind of a month. At The Knowledge Society (TKS), an accelerator program exposing kids to exponential tech, we had the opportunity to work with 501cThree. They’re a nonprofit at the intersection of technology and storytelling; for 3 weeks, we joined in their mission to build a cleaner, equitable future.
The Goal: Marketing water sensors in Newark, NJ so that 1 in 100 homes is equipped with a sensor. Hint, trust is a big barrier of entry.
Our team of sleep-deprived superstars, spurred by caffeine and a passion for social justice spent a wildly rewarding three weeks gathering data, rifling through legal documents and conducting analyses. Along the way, we faced numerous challenges in making sense of information and identifying the root problem. Receiving feedback wasn’t always fun, but it was valuable.
Rekindling (pun intended) a Love of Reading
Some of my most poignant childhood memories involve rushing home from the library, flopping on my bed and reading for hours. Just pure, uninterrupted joy. But with life becoming more hectic as we grow up, losing that love of reading is one of my biggest fears. This month, I made sure that didn’t happen.
Recommendation of the Month - Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book is wholly capable of changing your life. Understanding the mechanisms behind your habits teaches you how to easily break or make them. And given that habits shape who you are, there’s no exaggeration when I say this book can quite literally be life-changing. It’s definitely changed mine for the better.
And to top this month off, I’ve finally begun tracking my reading. Riffle through the pages of my sometimes amusing, sometimes nihilistic musings and reflections!