Overcoming Periods of Self Doubt…or How to Win a Fool’s Game

DISCLAIMER: It has come to my attention that some folk believe that I “have it all together.” Please accept this disclaimer as my way of saying three things: 1) I am figuring this out (and making this up) right alongside you dear reader; 2) I am not immune to feeling completely lost in tasks that are “supposed to be” routine by now; and 3) Sometimes I have to be reminded (by other people) of the things that I write (because most of my advice for you, is actually advice for me).

I’m still in school because I still have so many things to learn about myself and how the academy really works. In sharing my learnings on this journey, I hope that my vulnerability can act as a harbinger for your future concerns. I post so that YOU know, you’re NOT the only one out there feeling this way, and we can get through this together <3.

    

Confession: I am very afraid. I am a fourth year graduate student in the second year of my Ph.D. and my insides tighten every time someone says, “Wow, you’re almost done. Right??” (cue eyeroll and shoulder shrug)


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STAY Ready. Don’t GET Ready.

Allow me to provide you with some more spiritually-guided unsolicited advice. If you’ve interacted with me recently, at some point you may have heard me talking about how I “stay ready, so I never have to get ready.” I want to break down what this means to me and why it’s been so important in helping me reach new heights. Continue reading

Be Excellent. Celebrate. Repeat.

If there’s a young child in your life, I want you to try this experiment or do an observation (in a non-creepy way) of a healthy parent-child interaction.

EXPERIMENT: Watch the child do or say something that makes others laugh, smile, or offer a lot of positive reinforcement and celebration. Make note on whether or not the observed behavior is then repeated. Ponder why or why not.

What am I getting at here? In Lisa Nichols’ powerful book, Abundance Now, she uncovers a truth that shook me to my core:  Continue reading

Five Things Incoming Grad Students Get Wrong–A LOT

Okay, I know the title comes off a bit harsh. I mean, who do I think I am telling other grad students what they struggle with? Well, kudos to you for being intrigued enough to continue on anyway.

To attend to my earlier question: I am an incoming fourth year Ph.D. candidate in ME that has made a TON of mistakes along the way. If not all “mistakes” then certainly I’ve taken the “scenic route” while other folks whizzed by me and I hustled to catch up. Dear reader, I am merely trying to save you from this wasted time and foolish embarrassment. So let’s dive into the list, shall we? I’ve got FIVE things that I want to highlight. Continue reading

Claiming Your Expertise: How to Choose a Dissertation Topic

This topic is close to my heart, because as a Ph.D. Candidate these are the crossroads that I currently find myself at. I’ve done a little research to save you the time, dear reader, and help you on your journey. However, lest I remind you that I am but a lowly Ph.D. Candidate, my unsolicited advice is best taken with a dash of salt and a hearty conversation with your advisor/reading committee members. Below, please find information broken down into three main categories: 1) things to know upfront before starting, 2) potential sources for “free” dissertation topics, and 3) criteria to evaluate topics selected. Continue reading

How I Got Into Stanford…I Think

This is the age-old question that I ask myself and constantly gets asked of me. I would like to believe that it was my strategic foresight, research and leadership experiences, and all of  my ambition. And while that may be part of the story–a large part–it it still far from complete. When I originally wrote this post, I started by listing all of my accomplishments, things I had done,  started, and won. The ways I had forged this path ahead of myself on my own. Upon reflection, I think it could be more useful to emphasize a different perspective; a maxim I learned from my improv class, “Dare to be Average.”

Disclaimer: this post is not a short-cut substitute, or alternative for hard work. It does not contain mystical wisdom about the admissions process or the formula for the perfect introductory email. These are my compiled mistakes, blunders, and near-regrets that also contributed to me getting where I am today–a Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering. I won’t, however, make you wait too long for the answer to the post title’s question. I got into Stanford…I think because of Continue reading

New Year. New Attitude. New ME.

The first day of fall ’16 quarter (yesterday September 26, 2016) was a beautiful day on campus. Bright eyed and bushy tailed freshmen and first years hustled and bustled to classes and learned just what a quarter system is all about. I cannot believe that the year has passed by so quickly–though going through it at the time, it felt anything but quick. So much about me and my perspective on life has changed. Having come back from a trip to my alma mater, University of Maryland College Park and performing in Washington D.C. I feel ready to take on the world again. My skin is thick, my chin is held high, and I finally have a plan.

I envision a world where Continue reading

D282: Just Keep Swimming (Recognizing the Strength in Consistency)

Today marks ~3 weeks since I completed my first year of graduate school, putting me an entire academic year closer to earning a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. I wanted to post this on my last day of school since I started blogging on the first day—but I was exhausted. I mean completely wiped out. This year was full of meetings no one should have, of heinous crimes against black, brown, and female bodies no one should see, of a world being strewn about and reassembled in a fashion no one would dare accept. So forgive how lackadaisical I am about concluding one of several years. Despite this, everyone, and everything that threatened to deter me from my trajectory, my consistency has been my greatest asset. Of course, this is yet another learned behavior from my parents, echoed in the sentiment of Dory’s favorite song, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

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True words plastered on the walls of gyms nationwide.

My year taught me that the most difficult part of falling down is Continue reading