I’m a bit of an anxious person. I get nervous about making mistakes, sometimes to the point of it stalling my decision-making. I second-guess people’s praise, thinking, “They must not really mean that.” I have self-doubt about my career path, wondering if I’ll ever figure it out.
But, that’s changing. One recent Monday morning, I thought about how busy of a week I had ahead of me. I started to feel uneasy, and then a thought popped into my head: “You are going to be a powerhouse this week.” Before this fellowship, that would not have happened. Now it’s a regular occurrence to encourage myself when I face a challenge. I feel prepared; I feel ready; I feel on fire. It may not always be a raging fire, but it’s the kind that can’t be put out; the kind with a steady burn.
I applied for this fellowship three times, every time getting a little closer, and securing it after try number three. At the start, I was terrified. I had only three months to prove to everyone, including myself, that I deserved the opportunity. Almost immediately, it was apparent that this project was something big. People were excited about my work, everyone was bursting with ideas, and there were so many “ah-ha” moments that I lost count. We hit the ground running and got to work putting it all together. Every day has been a new challenge, some of them rewarding and some frustrating. All of them meaningful and pushing me toward the bigger picture.
Through reflecting on my fellowship, some themes emerged. I’m calling them “A Guide to Feeling Like a Force of Nature.”
Keep trying. Rejection may feel like a closed door, but it can often redirect you to an open one.
Believe people when they tell you that you did well. It may be uncomfortable at first, but positive feedback can be so encouraging and motivating if you let it be.
Let yourself feel proud of your work. When you’ve put a lot of time and effort into something, it’s natural to care about it and feel proud. Bonus points if you can accept it when other people tell you they’re proud of you.
Take advantage of your momentum. Use your energy, excitement, and sense of accomplishment to fuel you. Push forward, reflect, improve, and grow. Seek challenges and watch yourself crush them.
Remind yourself you are you are still worthwhile even when you make mistakes. You can do incredible things and even when they turn out to be a dud, that doesn’t mean you are. You are a force of nature.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still get anxious sometimes and making mistakes isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I’m getting better at being able to take a step back and think up a game plan to tackle whatever obstacle is in my path. It’s not every day that I’m able to follow every single one of the above steps, but little by little I improve.
Maybe it’s like in the movies where someone takes a magical potion, thinks they have a super power and tackles whatever they couldn’t before. Then the nice witch tells them the potion was a fake and the “power” was within them all along. Maybe I have grown into a more confident version of myself and this fellowship helped me feel capable of doing what I didn’t think I could before. Since I don’t recall meeting a nice witch recently, it’s likely the latter. Either way, things are different, and as the list of things I’m anxious about shrinks, the list of things I’m confident about grows.