As someone training to become an ASCAN, it can be difficult to reconcile the feeling of invincibility that comes with pursuing such an ambitious goal with the realization that we are not, in fact, invincible. This is especially true when faced with situations that remind us of our mortality, such as seeing a loved one grow old.

I recently had the experience of reuniting with my mother after six years apart, and the time we spent together in my home has caused me to question some of the assumptions I had previously held about myself and my approach to life. Until then, I had felt fearless and willing to take on any challenge with little regard for the potential consequences. But now, with my mother by my side, I find myself more aware of the impact that my actions can have on those I care about.

This newfound sense of responsibility has caused me to reevaluate some of my past decisions and to approach future choices with more caution and consideration. I have come to understand that taking calculated risks is not the same as being reckless and that it is possible to pursue our goals while also considering the potential consequences for ourselves and others.

At the same time, I recognize that the desire to pursue my dreams and achieve my goals is an integral part of who I am, and I don’t want to give that up entirely. Instead, I am learning to strike a balance between taking risks and being mindful of the impact that my actions can have on others.

Ultimately, seeing my mother grow old has been a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and of the importance of cherishing the time we have with the people we love. As I continue on my path to becoming an astronaut, I will do so with a greater sense of humility and respect for the responsibilities of such an ambitious pursuit.