Tag: acknowledgingfearsandphobias

Reflections: 10 pieces of advice to my younger self–college edition.

As I sit here, my eyes are bouncing back and froth from the blank word document to the to-do list in the bullet journal. My mind is racing with the numerous thoughts on different topics I could cover—either through a new blog post here, a new page attached to the website, or even possibly venturing into publishing my first “article” on LinkedIn.

I have to pause, take a deep breath and remind myself—“Progress over perfection”. The though of publishing anything on a site that has millions of users terrifies me—so I’ve slowly started by sharing a photograph and a quote. Neither has garnered a huge number of likes or comments, but that’s okay—I’m dipping my toes into the water of LinkedIn publishing.

Why does the thought of publishing an “article” on LinkedIn terrifies me? In the most simple of terms: imposter syndrome. While I have my PhD (something that only a small percentage of people—less than 2% of the total world population holds a PhD), and I can hold a conversation with people—it is that little voice that’s says they know more than I do, and I’m only going to make a fool out of myself.

I’m slowly trying to convince that ‘perfectionist/quiet/wallflower’ persona that it’s fine that others know more than I do on various subjects, and everyone makes a fool out of themselves at least once in their life, and they survive.

While this has been my ‘persona’ around most people—the ‘perfectionist’ has only tried to pop out in the past few years—mainly in terms of trying to figure out what to do next career wise. She is scared of making a jump that could possibly end as abruptly as her first postdoc position did, and not have a backup plan.

While this is a legitimate concern (especially now with the SARS-CoV2 pandemic still holding on), she is forgetting that she is resilient and can bounce back.

I’ve realized that there are several things that I wish I had done differently throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers, and if I could send a message back to my younger self, I would tell her:

  1. Take the time to actually take a couple of business courses (such as marketing or finance)—don’t judge all courses by the single one you took. They will be beneficial down the road.
  2. Don’t feel rushed to declare your major; also don’t feel pressured by various people to take certain courses. If you want to take the intro foreign language course—take it (again, it will be beneficial down the road).
  3. Don’t just live in the lab—try to find an organization (or two) on campus to join (and actually participate in).
  4. Network early—I know that you’re an introvert with deep reservations against talking in front of people, but you never know who you’ll talk with that could spark an interest for you in something different.
  5. Go to seminars that are offered by different departments—again keeps your interests broad.
  6. Once you’re in graduate school—again take additional classes that interest you. You might have to audit them (since they may not go with your plan of study)—but they will keep you well rounded.
  7. Read, read, read—not just the papers in your field, but whatever other subjects interest you. Also remember that you can also stretch your fiction/non-fiction wings as well.
  8. Continue to network—try to get to conferences, go to other seminars, get involved in different campus organizations.
  9. Figure out what your plans A, B, C, and D are—nothing is going to go the way you originally thought, so now is the best time to be trying to determine which direction(s) to swerve when things start to turn south. Start developing your own personal/professional development plans for your future.
  10. After graduation and you move—still make time to network in your new location, learn about different paths you can take with your degree, and above all else—realize a short break from ‘learning’ is fine but stretching too long will cause the anxiety to reach new levels and you’ll feel like you’re on a hamster wheel.

I’m getting a little better at some things:

  1. I’m remembering how much I did enjoy learning, and the different subjects that I enjoyed (such as ancient/medieval history, art history, geography, archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, in addition to science).
  2. There is no time frame/clock on when to finish the various e-courses that I’ve bought—but working through one or two a month will help me get back into the ‘learning’ game.
  3. That slowing down is actually okay—going full speed for so long, I almost hit that brick wall, but managed to slow down enough just before seeing it.
  4. Everyone’s paths are different—there are those who know exactly what they want to do, and they don’t deviate from the path; and then there are those who try numerous things before finding what it is they were meant to do—I’ve realized that I’m in the second boat.
  5. Having conversations with people on-line. While still difficult, I’m making slow progress on this front—baby steps.
  6. Changing directions in terms of the career—there is going to be a learning curve, and there will be people who know more on the subject(s) than I do—and that’s perfectly fine. There is more to life than just work, and it’s fine to take things slow.
  7. Realizing that everyone is probably going to have an opinion on what I’m doing—I shouldn’t internalize any of their opinions, I can acknowledge them, but I need to listen to my own internal voice (intuition).
  8. Working through the various issues (and triggers) of my anxiety will take time—no one is perfect, and I really don’t need to give in depth explanations to anyone in terms of certain aspects of life.
  9. While making personal/professional development plans are a pain in the ass—they are beneficial. I just need to remember that I don’t have to try to cover all aspects of life in a single year—I can focus on one or two things, and then build/branch out from there for the following year(s).
  10. And finally—realizing that the first person who I should be absolutely loyal to is myself. I need to step into my own power, embrace my strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and everything in between. I acknowledge that by being (and staying true) to myself—not everyone will like the ‘new’ me, and that is perfectly fine. It’s time to figure out who really belongs in my ‘tribe’ and who only liked me for trying to blend into society.

All in all, the past ten months have been productive in terms of self-reflection—I know where I slipped up in terms of professional development when I was younger. It may take a little more work to play ‘catch-up’, but if I go at my own pace I will get there. Anxiety isn’t the happiest of companions to have on the trip—but if I make time to sit and talk with ‘her’ weekly I think we can find ways of working together on this journey called life. And finally—realizing that it is perfectly fine being a compassionate, caring, empathic person. While I’m not sure when those traits became politicized—I’m not going to apologize for being that type of person, neither am I going to apologize for being more spiritual than religious.

Have you ever wanted to write a letter to your younger self?

No Comments Reflections

Pisces New Moon Goals and acknowledging fears

So I’m a few days late in posting—but over the weekend the moon moved through it’s second new moon transition for the year and it was through the Pisces constellation. I’ve realized one thing so far on my reboot break—I’m falling into the old habit of concentrating on one thing to the determent of everything else. While I did need to decompress after my job ended—I barely did anything else. I know that I need to start listening to my inner voice—but I’m truthfully finding that more difficult than I thought. This is due in part to letting all the other voices (you know the ones—your parents, family, teachers, bosses, even close friends) have more of a say in your life than you do.

So what does that have to do with the Pisces new moon and making goals? Pisces is about-facing both your dreams and your fears—and this is something that truthfully I haven’t been good at in recent years (facing either of them). It is hard to try to rewrite a dream, when you realize that the one you’ve held on to for years isn’t going to come about (say becoming a professor and having a marine biology/molecular biology/developmental biology research project going), and having to figure out what else you can do with your life.

Fears have been a little easier to acknowledge—at least my two biggest ones (and actually those are anxiety based issues than actual fears)—one is talking, both in front of large groups of people, and then just one-on-one with someone new. Why do I have the fear/anxiety issue—I’m “afraid” that they (if it is one-on-one) or someone in the audience is going to correct either my sentence structure or the pronunciation of the word(s)—and this stems from childhood. When I was just starting kindergarten, we moved from Massachusetts to Oklahoma, where I was enrolled in a new kindergarten class. Then the following issues arose—my speech (I learned to talk out in Massachusetts, and had a northeastern accent—where I didn’t pronounce my “r”. Now this would have taken care of itself over the years as I settled into things and the school—but the teachers and others thought it would be better if I was put in speech therapy to speed up the process. So I spent most of my elementary school career having to have speech therapy two to three days a week just to learn how to pronounce a single letter of the alphabet. On top of that, my kindergarten teacher would always correct my speech, to a point that I didn’t feel comfortable talking. I thought was the point if someone was going to just repeat it anyway—so I started just writing out what I wanted to say, and it was either passed around to everyone or the teacher would read it out loud.

            So needless to say—I don’t have that many fond memories of being in public schools (from speech therapy to being bullied and ridiculed—I was very happy to graduate), and while I managed to work on the issue a little through college, it is still something that crops up from time to time as something I don’t like to do, but I know that I need to—so I’m going to be looking in finding different ways of coping with stress and anxiety of talking to others.

The other fear/anxiety that I have is actually being behind the wheel of a car—aka driving. I don’t mind being a passenger, for the most part I’ve gotten over the severe carsickness that I had as a child—it is now just a mild to moderate problem. Where did the anxiety of being behind the wheel come from? The answer simple answer is childhood—the more complex answer is an older sibling who decided it would be “cute” that when picking me up from the movies and driving home to remove their hands from the steering wheel and telling me either to steer the car, or that we’d swerve into the oncoming traffic. Looking back, I can see how they thought it would be “cute” and possibly instill wanting to be my own chaperone/driver in me, so that I would jump at the chance for signing up for drivers’ education, get my license, and never bug other people for a ride. But that isn’t what happened—instead it instilled a deep anxiety in me, that possibly someone is going to grab the wheel, or something will happen and I have no control over it. I’ve tried over the years to take lessons—but the fear is deep, and not something that one gets over quickly. So for now, I am more than willing to rely on public transportation, my bike, my feet, and occasionally asking someone for a ride somewhere. Also with the way the world is going—who knows how long vehicles are going to be around anyway.

So other than focus on your dreams and fears, what else can one focus on during the Pisces new moon?

            Following your hunches/intuition—now this is something that I need to work on, as I’ve ignored my own gut instincts too often over the past several years.

            Heal—focus on working though emotional or spiritual issues.

            “Surrender”—practice yoga, meditation—and open yourself to the possibilities of the universe.

In addition, Pisces is also moving through my 5th house—or my fun zone. So this is the area that is triggered by creativity, children, and romance. Now I’m good with the creativity portion—I don’t have kids (and I’m not around them all that much), and truthfully right now I’m not in the market for romance (especially since I’m still trying to figure out my life and where I want to be working/living within the next year).

So there are several different things that one can do during this sums up the 5th house (or fun zone):

            Taking up belly dancing.

            Making a toy for a child.

            Starting to date

            Going on a trip with your significant other

            Doing something creative (writing, painting, so forth)

            Do something that typifies your idea of fun

            Throw a party

So there are few things on the list that I can basically scratch off as not doing—starting to date, going on a trip with your significant other, making a toy for a child, and throwing a party. These are only crossed off the list because 1) I’m again not looking for a relationship, 2) I’d rather meet up with people for lunch or an afternoon walk than throw a party; and 3) I don’t have the accessories to make a toy for a child (as I would be leaning towards making stuff animals for children).

I’ve tried to belly dance in the past (had actually bought some workout DVDs), and I may actually try to find a free program to follow on-line. I found it fun and challenging (especially since I currently don’t have the coordination for it—not that I had the coordination in the past either).

So if I were to make goals for the next few weeks, they would be the following:

            Get back into a meditation routine—preferably at night, but may try morning as well.

            Start doodling again, and possibly turn one of the doodles into a cross-stitch pattern (and teach myself how to cross-stitch).

            Daily workout (Beachbody or possibly see if I can find a free online belly dancing workout)

But overall remember: Progress not Perfection

No Comments AstrologyHealthNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentspirituality