I was once told, on separate occasions by different people, that dancers are very insecure people and physicists tend to worry more than anyone else.

In my process of cleaning an image with 235 channels for my thesis, I was thinking about how I feel about all of it. I’m not particularly talented with image processing and reducing the noise in the images, honestly. My advisor was surprised at what I didn’t observe in cleaning the image (a few of the images I thought were acceptable were not).

I don’t think I’m a fabulously talented physics person, nor do I believe I’m an astrophysics goddess, but I was kind of thrown since I thought I was doing okay for someone who had started about a month and a half ago really do something with this imaging (and it isn’t daily). I’m not happy with my progress, as I think I’ve mentioned at other times.

I’ve been beating myself up over this during the weekend. Being of both temperaments (as well as tendency to be dramatic at times), I’ve been wondering if I’m cut out for this. I have these moments in dance as well. The moments where you can’t execute something simple or something everyone in your class but you can. You feel bad, you question whether if all your best efforts are in vain, and so on.

While processing this image, I kept thinking about it. My research isn’t even in a field I plan on pursuing! Then I remembered one of the most important pieces of advice to my life: always keep in mind why you’re there. I don’t remember the exact phrasing, and I know I always change the wording when I state it, but the sentiment is to remember why it is you do what you do. My Bharatanatyam teacher Carla told this to me, and I have carried that in my mind since.

With dance, off the top of my head, I can think of several things I have struggled with. A shuffle in Indian dance (just softly kicking your leg while striking the heel on the floor) was hard. Tribhangi turns were difficult. Upward vertical figure 8s (called taqsims sometimes) were difficult. The hip drops with release were difficult for me not to look bad. And generally speaking with Middle Eastern dance, I’ve had to come to terms that I’m a small girl. I’m short and thin. Belly rolls will never be huge and soft on me. I can’t take huge steps and expect to look remotely graceful. Remembering a turn’s direction is difficult, since it’s different than in Indian dance. I’m a forward turner through Indian dance. By that, I mean my non-weight bearing leg/side goes towards the audience; belly dancers tend to turn backwards.

However, I stuck with dance, because I kept the big picture in mind: I wanted to be a better dancer. Instead of getting caught up on how I wasn’t getting it and other negativity that can fester, I changed my mind’s focus

So for my thesis, I have decided to focus on why I originally picked this advisor/project: because I wanted to be more well-rounded in physics. Because I wanted a challenge. Because I wanted someone who wouldn’t let me get away with bsing it and demand of me quality work. Because I wanted to prove to myself that I can succeed in physics.

I know I’m not the best person at astrophysics and image processing, but I can be better, and I know I can pull this off and succeed.