Life (Bio—) and Why I’m Excited About It.

Bioinformatics

I started working for a bioinformatics company a few weeks ago and I’m just so amazed by what they’re doing.

In a nutshell, bioinformatics uses computer science to understand biological processes. It’s about dealing with big data produced by sequencing genomes. The practical applications are mind-blowing. For example, bioinformatics help in identifying disease-causing genes like cancer genes. And what gets me really excited is that this field will literally change the way we live and how long we live and I am going to be part of that!

I was a little afraid of working here at first because of the language barrier and because they don’t really have the awesome offices and culture of a silicon-valley-esque company. But after watching a 5 hour documentary about DNA (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/dna/episode1/), I think I will be eternally regretful if I pass up the chance to make a dent and contribute to this bigger cause called human life.

Whew. I never thought that I would find something like this in Hong Kong.

Biotechnology

Anyway, with this new-found curiosity for bio-anything, I have stumbled upon Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes.

Theranos is disrupting the medical testing industry with a new and cheaper way of doing blood tests. And Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of college to found it.

I find myself idolising Elizabeth. She is amazing and the work she has done – she has created a meaningful product that solves a real problem and will actually make life better for everyone.

Some bits of this idolisation probably stem from me identifying with her physical attributes: her deep voice and the way she likes to sit de quatro. But that’s beside the point.

I like how she is highly motivated and purposeful. And I envy her that she knows what her life’s work is going to be and that she’s already doing it.

“I grew up with those stories about greatness,” she said, “and about people deciding not to spend their lives on something purposeful, and what happens to them when they make that choice—the impact on character and quality of life.”
-Elizabeth Holmes, New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/15/blood-simpler

 

Being: Direction, Choices, Identity


So I saw this video lying around in my Facebook newsfeed, and decided to watch it.

When we choose between options that are on a par, we can do something really rather remarkable. We can put our very selves behind an option. Here’s where I stand. Here’s who I am. I am for banking. I am for chocolate donuts. This response in hard choices is a rational response, but it’s not dictated by reasons given to us. Rather, it’s supported by reasons created by us. When we create reasons for ourselves to become this kind of person rather than that, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are. You might say that we become the authors of our own lives.”

– Ruth Chang,“How to Make Hard Choices”, TED, May 2014, New York

This makes me remember Theology class and the fundamental option theory. Only I don’t want fundamental option in the Catholic definition of it about sin, but in a more philosophical view: that one action (sin) does not equate me being a good person or a bad person, but the sum total of all my actions. And these actions are all guided by the fundamental direction I have chosen, to become good or bad.

This also makes me think of statistics and graphs: where all dots in a graph would probably be going in more or less the same chosen trend, and the few outliers out there, are just that, outliers that do not change the trend of the graph.

And this makes me reflect on what I’m doing right now, introducing myself as a UX designer, and fundamentally choosing to be one. This makes me start doing a lot of different things — like attending events, talks, conferences, or meeting people interested in it, or doing small projects to deepen my knowledge of it — that leads me into actually becoming a UX designer. (Or I can be philosophical and say, am I not already one right now?)

This past month made me realise that having a vision of what I want to be is very powerful.

For one, I was able to get rid of my almost quarter-life crisis of not being good enough to become anything.

Second, I have now put myself in a box that limits the choices I can make. And that’s good because knowing I can be anything I want severely paralysed me from finding out the one thing I want to become. If that makes sense. (This again makes me think of Theo131, freedom and commitment.)

Third, this box has made me become creative. I have become more attuned to the opportunities I can take to become what I want to be and think up strategies to get there.

Fourth, I’m optimistic. I feel that everything is now setup for success and I just have to take the steps to get there.

Fifth, I’m happy.

I’m so happy I’m teary right now.

This makes me go back to this post I wrote after the last day of school: A Closure, A Commencement: Reflecting On Four Years of Life. At that time I was a drifter, not knowing what I want to be, but just promising myself to become a being-towards-perfection. I think my 2012 self would be proud of what I am now, actualising.

It’s almost the end of 2014, so today I promise myself something: to never get lost again, to always have a goal I can aim small wins at, and to look back to this post whenever I feel burned.