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As part of my job, I have to find out what some of our alumni have been doing since they graduated. It’s a really interesting part of my job – there are so many people who have done amazing things, from scientific research to travel to going into space. But it’s hard not to look at myself and where I’ve been, and not wonder what I could have done if I’d had the focus/dedication/support/strength/whatever to do it.

I’ve never been to space. I haven’t done a lot research-wise. I’m not exactly on a “climbing the ladder” career path… not at this point, anyway. My attention span when it comes to things seems to be short. Finding my professional niche is proving to be challenging, as I tend to be more confident about the things I do outside of work than I am about the things I do at work.

Even though I’ve done some pretty neat things in my life thus far (built a boardwalk in a beaver pond; worked at a weekly paper in Northwestern Ontario and met some pretty amazing folks, moved to the Maritimes with my cat), it’s hard not to look at these accomplishments and not wonder. Comparing myself to someone else isn’t really a good idea, I know – everyone has their own path. But really, there are things I finally learned (I think I’ve learned these things – I’m at least aware of them moreso now) that in hindsight would have been helpful to me in figuring out other things. But then, if I had known things back then, would I be where I’m at right now? Because where I’m at right now really isn’t all that bad.

So what would I have liked to have learned sooner?

  • How to better appreciate and digest constructive feedback instead of internalizing and taking it as criticism. (Not sure that this is something I’ve learned yet, but I’m aware of it.
  • How to be able to focus on something longer, and not feel like I’m wandering aimlessly through life.
  • To take advantage of all opportunities and give things a shot even though they’re really f***ing scary. (I have learned this in some ways)
  • To better listen to my gut when it’s telling me something doesn’t fit.
  • To find the strength/persistence/something that will keep me from feeling discouraged, which inevitably leads to my sitting back and not even bothering.
  • To learn the value of speaking up and voicing thoughts/opinions/ideas/questions without fear of negative reaction or hysterical laughter at my self-diagnosed stupidity.
  • How to trust that people are genuinely interested in me and what I’m doing, and not doubting their intentions.
  • How to be patient and work through the frustrating moments.

There’s still a lot for me to learn – much of what I posted above are things I’m aware of moreso than what I’ve actually learned and am putting into practice.

What have you learned, or realized you still need to learn?

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