Nearsightedness


Ashley made us chocolate chip cookies today, which was amazing and wonderful. It was exactly what I needed at the end of a long day. I find myself considering deeper questions on days when I have a lot of busy work and therefore time to let my mind wander. That was my day today; I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading articles and staring at a monitor while piloting studies. Today I contemplated how to expand my horizons and see past my own nose into the distance (and the future).

Sometimes when I spend a majority of the day focusing on small objects close to my face (books, computer screens, articles, etc.) I end up having a harder time than normal seeing things that are far away. I don’t like to walk around campus with my glasses on because I didn’t get glare protection and I feel like people can’t see my eyes. If I’m going to hide my eyes I’m just going to wear sunglasses (and I usually only do this when I’m feeling cynical and as if I won’t be able to control my eye rolls). When I left lab this morning after my long day of lab time I could barely see ten feet in front of me. My eyes immediately started watering from the sunlight when I walked outside. I felt like a vampire. I threw on my shades and proceeded to walk home (probably looking pretty grumpy).

I’ve also been contemplating how it is that friendships that seem to have fallen apart are able heal over time. In my experience, friendships fall apart because there are short term problems past which at least one party doesn’t have the wherewithal to see. Advice isn’t heard, taken into consideration, or appreciated. Honest feelings aren’t shared. Yet with time and space people forgive each other and happy conversations start again (usually with an apology). It’s a really magical thing, the elasticity of mutual understanding.

I read a rather inspiring and intriguing article today during our lab group meeting. It was about how the fields of social and industrial/organizational psychology with human factors examine research questions regarding different details but that also fit within the same field. The burgeoning field regarding human/machine cooperation, teamwork, and group dynamics does not belong to one discipline alone. It’s a Stone Soup kind of situation; each field is bringing something unique to the pot with the understanding that everything’s mixing together to produce something “delicious” in collaboration. By cooperating and sharing information between disciplines everyone benefits and grows more than they would on their own. Holding back from engaging in opportunities for teamwork is shortsighted. Even in the field into which I’m beginning to foray there is encouragement towards looking into the future. It’s in everyone’s best interests.

Speaking of my lab group, here’s a picture of all of us.

IMG_4147

I’m (obviously) on the left, Nicole is next to me, our adviser (Dr. Yamani) is beside her, and Chris is on the right. Nicole and I are both first-year graduate students working toward our Master’s in experimental psych while Chris is a PhD candidate working on his dissertation with us in the lab. We’re about to embark on helping him with his most current study. Once participants sign up we’ll help him run them through the experiment. I’m very excited! We took the picture today because the psych department wants to increase awareness for the human factors division of the department. We’ll be displayed on the monitors in the foyer of the building for everyone to see for the next few weeks! Hopefully people will get more interested in our research and want to participate in our (incredibly thrilling) experimental studies.

I think that refusing to be nearsighted in my day-to-day life has a lot of value. It encourages proactive behavior. It promotes responsibility, foresight, and self-reflection. It’s a mechanism for ensuring I give myself daily feedback on progress. It’s a system of checks and balances that keep me from stagnating and helps me stay optimistic. It keeps me feeling inspired. It also helps me not regress to ruminating on the past. I am grateful.

The gym doesn’t open until 10 am tomorrow. I will either have to convince myself to go in the late morning or come up with a way to work out from home. Honestly, part of the reason I enjoy the gym in the early morning is because there’s hardly anyone else there to share it with me. I love lifting weights, but the only context in which I’ve ever successfully done it is in a team room with fellow Herons during my rowing career at HWS. That was a completely different dynamic. We had a system: everyone rotated in sync with each other, no one paused to wipe down machines until everyone was finished, and the energy level stayed high. There was lots of encouragement. When the gym is crowded with strangers trying to lift around each other and being hyper-conscious of hygiene (and getting in each other’s way) I often feel discouraged from joining the confusion. I’m much more inclined to proceed with a weightlifting workout when the gym is empty and I have the ability to set up a system for myself. I’d rather lift with a partner in a relatively empty gym or in a weight room surrounded by determined teammates. I thought I’d just lost my touch with the weights. Turns out I really enjoy them and get a lot of reward out of a simple 20 minute workout. Similarly, enjoying the process of getting my body back in shape (for me, this time, not for a coach) is correlated to my determination to shake my nearsightedness.

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