A Tale of Too Many Tabs

I am a planner. I plan my daily activities, my meals, I even plan out my time to relax. I like organization, structure and clear-cut goals. However, since starting my summer research, every time I open my laptop I am reminded of just how unstructured my life currently is.

I use my laptop for almost everything, from taking notes to watching Netflix. Despite this, I do my best to keep it organized, with everything in its correct folder, and everything not in use closed down. At any given time, I usually have three apps running — messaging, music, and Google Chrome — with a maximum of two tabs open at a time on Chrome. I’m not sure if you can tell from the attached photo, but there are nine — I repeat, nine — tabs open on my laptop currently, all having some connection to my research. To me, this is a nightmare. To me, these nine open tabs not only represent my research, but they represent just how unstructured this process is going to be.

Sophia Makal 1

And that’s another thing: This is my research. Not a research study run by the lab that I work in, not a research project my group is working on for a class, but my own, personal research idea and question. I am in charge of this study, how it will grow and progress and whether or not it will succeed. Once again, this is a nightmare to me. I have never had this much uncertainty in my school work, and it scares me. However, I have also never had this much control, and that is what excites me most about this opportunity.

My father is a psychologist who told me on multiple occasions when I was growing up that I have control issues. Well, Dad, you were right! I do like to be in control, and now all of my wildest, “control freak” dreams are coming true. I have only been working on my research for about two weeks now, but already I have a plethora of ideas for how to shape and mold this project. For example, in a meeting with my faculty adviser last week, we, in under 30 minutes, were able to add an entire new dimension to my study, broadening not only the procedure and methods, but more importantly its possible effects. I left this meeting feeling empowered and excited, feelings I seldom get from doing school work. It is feelings like these that help me to move past my fears of uncertainty and disorder, and continue to work toward something that I am truly passionate about.

As I head into this summer, I am both scared and excited. However, more than anything, I am thankful. Thankful to my faculty adviser for agreeing to work with me to try to find answers to a research question that I am passionate about; thankful to Dietrich College and the heads of the Honors Fellowship for allowing me to take part in this wonderful program; and thankful to myself for never growing out of my “control freak” phase.