I have become painfully aware of the fact that much of adulting has to do with advocating for oneself and knowing where to look for relevant resources. Something else I have been reflecting on is that there are also times when we have to be dependent on others... but cannot actually rely on that assistance being there whenever we need it.
When I was a student, advocating for myself looked like making sure to set aside enough time to study (usually chunks of 4 hours or more), asking professors for clarification when I was confused about an important topic, or studying with peers that had a better understanding of the course material than me. I started to learn this lesson in undergrad but it wasn’t perfected until I went to grad school. As I think back even further, in high school I had a classmate that would ask many questions in a physics course we shared together. Sometimes the teacher would berate him and he would turn bright red. There were even times when I could tell that he was fighting back tears. But you know what? The next time in class he would ask his questions again. He would turn bright red… again. He ended up with the highest grade in that course and was the valedictorian at the end of our 4 years there. I told myself that one day I would be like him and I finally had the focus and determination to push past most of my fear when I got to graduate school. I became the girl that asked questions in class and annoyed (some) of my professors as well as peers. However, my focus was on getting the most out of my program and I was able to accomplish this goal. Nowadays, I am the young professional that you may find asking questions at conferences and meetings (I have to get the most out of those too).
More recently, having to directly purchase my own health insurance, search for housing in a different country, create a budget for a whole year, handle a frustrating insurance claim, and fight to maintain professional networks that I have invested in heavily has been keeping me busy and a little nervous about dropping the ball. As I reflect on the past few months, I believe I feel frustrated because I perceive myself to not be in control at a time that I NEED to be in control. Not always sure what to do with this but I am keenly aware that I am responsible for myself. Me, myself, and I. No one else. The weight can be overwhelming at times. However, a benefit is that I have had to become better at prioritizing and creating space for the things and relationships that I need to focus on in the present. I also acknowledge that God has brought people into my life and opened doors during instances when there was no way for me to adequately advocate for myself. I both love and dislike this because I have to come to terms with the fact that I need people even if I don’t want to need them. It keeps me humble in a painful way, kind of like I am falling off a cliff and literally the only thing that can stop me from being a goner is someone else’s good graces. There are a few song lyrics that come to mind... but maybe I will share them later
Questions to ponder:
1. Have you ever felt overwhelmed at the thought that you are responsible for yourself?
2. How do you manage this feeling/reality (or possibly avoid it)?
3. Do you feel that the weight of responsibility is a driving force for you to learn how to better advocate for yourself? Why or why not?
This blog series is focused on Life Changes.
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