Adaptability and Change: Annual Letter 2020
Gaining new passions, reading new books, and many realizations about oneself.
Well folks, that was one heck of a year. The COVID-19 pandemic hit everyone in unexpected ways economically, socially, and for many, for their physical health. Despite that, a quote from Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter series rings true:
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light 💡”
With the intention of reflection, processing, and acknowledging the good, the bad, and everything in between, here’s my annual letter for the year. Divided in to three different section for your reading convenience. (P.S. I highly suggest listening to the following song as it encapsulates the theme of this annual letter: appreciation.
- designing a framework for a potential cancer therapy (though as a bit of a thought experiment more than anything) and getting to meet Dr. Geoffrey Shapiro of the Dana Farber Cancer Scientist to discuss.
- consulting for Kidogo and earning a spot as a final consideration out of 50+ teams
- everything that came with starting Likagen, a research project with the long-term goal of human limb regeneration.
- Specific highlights include:
- starting to build my own at-home lab!
- raising over $1000 from the 1517 fund to support the creation of the aforementioned lab.
- designing a cell reprogramming experiment to create iPSCs out of fruit fly somatic cells.
- presenting my summer efforts at BostInno x TKS demo day
- earning a spot on BostInno’s 25 Under 25 2020 list
- going to ISSCR virtual 2020!!!!
- scoring 5s on the 3 AP Exams I took this year (Chemistry, Statistics, US History). This one means especially a lot, because I struggled with the subject matter in these classes for quite a bit. Ace-ing these exams felt like reaching the summit of Mt Everest.
Intangible (relatively speaking)
- trained mindsets such as stoicism, gratitude and perspective. all of these mindsets served wonders for my day-to-day mental health
- met some amazing people who challenged my worldview in new ways and built relationships i’m sure will last a lifetime ✨
- started a few new hobbies such as: cooking 🍳 creative writing 🏰 and some gaming here and there 🎮🤓
- read lots of new books, nonfiction, fiction + a bit of poetry!
- the resurgence of the black lives matter movement ~may 2020 kickstarted my efforts towards intentionally training critical thinking. i confronted many biases I didn’t realize I had and took steps to detrain those negative thoughts.
- the recurring theme of my challenges was learning how to exercise self-discipline. i faced many moments of questioning and demotivation that would leave me in slumps lasting 1–2 weeks at a time.
- i got head colds and felt generally unwell for weeks at a time throughout my summer. i’m ok now though!
- ^ I’m very lucky that these were my biggest challenges. despite everything going on the world, i survived and am coming out of 2020 in a decent place.
Top Lessons Learned
- Life can go much differently than I may expect it to. Best strategy to deal? Deploy stoicism, and actively respond to situations as they arise, but also take time to reflect and process on the journey so far.
- Not everyone I meet is going to stay in my life forever, and that is more than ok.
- Coming from my limb regeneration endeavors, taking an idea from pure theory to application is extremely complex. it’s also more sustainable to break larger goals down into smaller, more tangible ones to achieve and not feel overwhelmed (but make sure to balance this with the bigger picture/long-term vision)
- The little moments = sustained joy. I noticed this especially as I hit big milestones (presenting at my first demo day, bostinno 25 under 25, finishing my junior year etc) that I would be really excited and happy!…for a few days, and then life went back to normal. Though I’m still incredibly grateful for these experiences, I notice that the more we appreciate small things on a daily basis, like taking hot showers, eating good food or even lying down in the sunshine, the more we can appreciate life as a whole.
- One’s body houses the mind. Without an optimally functioning body, my mind can’t operate at peak performance. Listen to your body!! How does this look? Exercising consistenly, eating the right foods (healthy greens and proteins + cutting down on processed foods ✅) and taking breaks when I need to.
Things that I’m Grateful For
- continual access to basic ammenities (food, clean water, good clothes, internet, electricity, education — you get the picture)
- discovering my passion for limb regeneration and regenerative medicine!
- all of the support from my network as i raised funds for my lab and worked on getting likagen off the ground!
- grateful to have read interesting books this year. the 5am club, the goldfinch & secret history, and assata shakur’s biography especially come to mind.
- listening to insightful podcasts like the school of greatness and impact theory with tom bilyeu!
- the love and support from my family and network so far ❤
- i applied to colleges this year and it was a fairly smooth process so i’m grateful that this particular transition went better than I expected.
Themes For Next Year (aka Things I want to be Intentional About)
- Self-Awareness and the Self Love journey.
- Creating Knowledge > Obtaining Knowledge.
Goals (What I want done by 12/31/2021)
- finish building at-home lab + have first experiment done
- consistently exercise 5/7 days a week
- developing new hobbies
- continuing to educate myself on global issues and correcting personal biases
- do more creative writing!
Although 2020 went in multiple directions, many unexpected, it only goes to show how capable we, as a species, are of handling great change and adaptability. Though the fight is far from over, I’m confident that we will find new ways to adapt and survive.
I want to end this letter by saying thank you. Thank you for doing your best this year, for facing whatever challenges came your way, for showing up and not giving up. Despite everything, it’s still you!
To everyone who has shown me support till now, thank you.
To 2020, you beast of a year, goodbye.
And to all who’ve survived until now…
Thanks for reading my annual letter for 2020! My name’s Apurva Joshi, and I’m a 17-year-old working a project called Likagen, focused on understanding the fundamental biomechanisms of limb regeneration to develop limb regeneration methods for humans. If you have any questions or want to help me in making our vision into a reality, I’d love to get in touch to discuss more!