my name is natalia. I am a Phd candidate at the radboud university nijmegen medical centre, nijmegen, the netherlands. in daily life, i do research in computational psychiatry. in free time, i go dancing, hiking, investing and blogging.

End of the year summary

The end of the year is coming, which is a perfect occasion for little considerations of what happened in 2015, and what is, hopefully, about to happen in 2016. Some of my goals were achieved and some other goals I have to put on hold. However, in general, I feel that I am going towards the right direction.

So, the little things that I achieved this year would be:

(1) creating a household

I wouldn't just say 'buy a house' because that was, after all, a minor effort compared to the activities related to the kick-off of a household, like the total makeover of the anterior, finding good tenants, setting little things up (like internet, washing machine, tv-set), emptying the garage for rental purposes… I have to say that the cliche slogan is correct in this case: 80% of all fears is just an anxiety from imaginary problems which will never come to life. I had a few sleepless nights because I felt that I was too double-left-handed person to even have a house, and the problems will pale up faster than I would ever be able to solve them. That fear might have arisen because my ex-fiance was a type of Mac Gyver who could construct a helicopter out of scissors and beer cans. So, after living with such a person for over two years, I got the idea that I must be a complete trash in terms of manual skills. This is however not the case: I somehow became familiar with a screwdriver, led bulbs, wall paint equipment. Now I use to think that I am just average with that respect. 

I can also judge my recruitment for tenants as very successful. I expected the tenants to be the annoying part of the business, but this is definitely not the case; I would rather say this is the best part. Instead of making noise overnights and leaving trash everywhere, they lead long disputes about sociology and politics, cook and teach me running. Recently we had a Christmas dinner cooked exclusively by the tenants and it was such a good one! In addition to that, they serve as couches / advisors. I often come home from the university and share about the trains of thought I have about the day I just had. Poor guys, they have to listen to all this, but they listen very patiently. One day they cautiously make a note: 'hum, we thought scientists are there to help the society, but this sounds more like a Game of Thrones’. And yes, they couch and advise me a lot. Great place to live in.

(2) Patience.

I published some review in February, and for the first few months there was quite a number of downloads, but no citations. It is important for me to feel that I am doing a good job, so I was quite concerned; since the distribution of citations is scale-free, and 80% of all papers doesn't get any citations ever so I was afraid of falling into that category. I was thinking: 'damn, this paper is to mathematical for psychiatrists and too psychiatric for mathematicians, no one will ever cite it'. Yet recently, within the last four weeks, the first two citations came out, and they were both from researchers whom I had never met in person, and both were actually very positive. I noticed in the stats that the article is regaining attention, so I have a feeling that the snow ball effect has just started and more citations will appear. What a relief.

(3) Changing the mindset to become a really good version of myself

Watching the Derren Brown's show 'The Miracle' live changed a lot in my life. I saw it in June in the UK. In this show, Derren aimed to empower the audience by a public session of hypnosis. Definitely worked for me since I recognize long lasting effects of that one session up to this day. I don't fear in the same ways I did before, and bad mood never lasts longer than just a few hours. If you have a chance to go, just go and see it, satisfaction guaranteed.

For more, I have read a few really good books this summer. First and foremost, I would recommend 'The Linchpin' by Seth Godin. It is a modestly looking, 100-page booklet but in fact, it is such a valuable source of information! The book disillusions common beliefs about the job market and about what the employers are truly looking for in their workers - as opposed to what they state in the job proposals and fool themselves with. I was surprised to discover that some of the personality traits I have are wanted on the job market, regardless of what some of the people around me claim. For instance, truth tellers are wanted, I am definitely one of them. And so I started developing certain aspects of my personality which I had tried to suppress before, and I feel much more like ‘myself’ right now.

(4) A tendency to find yourself at the right time at the right place.

I guess this can only be a result of experience. I still miss opportunities, but definitely less of them than before. My biggest bummer this year was at SfN in Chicago, where I bumped into a famous professor doing in consciousness studies, Christof Koch, just presenting his poster about multimodal characterization (histological / functional with patch clamping / genetic) of nerve cells in mice' visual cortex from the Allen Institute's huge Brian Imaging Project. He mentioned something about hierarchical classifiers and asked me all of a sudden: can you do this? Well, if HE is the one that asks, you rather said 'yes, of course!' and then close yourself behind the close doors for as long as it takes to learn what necessary. But I was standing there in shock like a golem instead. Apart from that, I was taking opportunities all the way. I organized a session at the local student conference, I used my personal budget to go to Argentina and give a seminar there, I gave a seminar in Warsaw for my former classmates from studies. And, most importantly, I was always answering emails, which brought me a lot of contacts too.

That would be it for this year. Excited for the next year to come!

My friend and me

The mainstream