This is an interview I did with a former student, Ashlee W., about her college experience. Ashlee is a second semester college student at a small college in Oklahoma.
Me: So how are you, Ashlee?!?!? What’s it been--five years!
Ashlee: I’m awesome, thank you. It’s been about that long I’m pretty sure.
Me: So I was wanting to interview you because I think it would be interesting to ask people in college what their experience has been like and if they have any advice or tips for new college students. So let me ask you. Before you started college, what did you think it would be like? Did you have an idea of what you expected?
I was nervous about being older than some kids that were just out of high school.
Ashlee: I really kind of had this idea of what a big college would be like. Just how they show it on TV or something, a classroom with a ton of students. And teachers that really couldn’t care less about your grade and such and such.
Me: So did you think it would be pretty intimidating?
Ashlee: Yes, especially dealing with financial aid and learning how exactly college works. And also I was nervous about being older than some kids that were just out of high school, in math especially because it had been so long since I was in math and I wasn't good at it when I was taking it, so yes definitely intimidating.
Me: So was your original plan to start college immediately after high school?
Ashlee: Not really, I wanted to take a year off because I think my senior year after high school I had a busy summer and thought the rest of my year would be that way, and I just wanted to experience life without school for a bit.
I dropped out after the first week because I clearly was not ready and didn't know what I was getting myself into.
Me: Do you think taking a “gap year” worked out pretty well for you? I know some people think taking that year off is a great idea.
Ashlee: Yes and no, because I enjoyed my time off, but when I went that next fall after the break I dropped out after the first week because I clearly was not ready and didn't know what I was getting myself into. But now, I regret it a lot because I see people I went to high school with about to graduate and I just think to myself that that could have been me.
Me: So what was it about that first week that caused you to drop out? I mean, I’m not trying to make you feel bad or anything. I just want to share with high school students and new college students what college is actually like so they won’t be shocked. I assume starting was kind of an overwhelming experience for you.
Ashlee: It's totally fine. I was worried about financial aid because I didn't know how it worked and worried about paying for college. Then when I started classes, I put off my work, and that weekend I went to a One Direction concert and didn't do anything. So I put it off and was so nervous to go in empty handed with nothing done. So I wasn’t good at organizing my time or putting school first.
Me: I see, so you just didn’t feel prepared. Also, I think a lot of people worry about paying for college.
Ashlee: Right, and now my second time around it’s not as big as a concern for me because I have more of an understanding about financial help. I have Okpromise, and it's been a major help with easing the worry of money. And now I’m not as afraid to go to the financial aid office with questions on how I can manage the money aspect. I hope that made some sense. Writing all my thoughts about it is not as easy as I was thinking.
In college, a lot of times you have to go out and look for help yourself.
Me: No, I get what you’re saying. I think it can be intimidating for students to seek out the help they need. For one thing, you might not know exactly what kind of help you need or where to go to get it. Also, it’s different than in high school because sometimes in high school the help just comes to you. In college, a lot of times you have to go out and look for help yourself. Was that your experience?
Ashlee: Yes, and I don't think they prepare you for financial aide in high school as much as they do about which college to go to and how to apply and such. Also about what you said in college, you have to go out and look for help, and that could also apply to anything other than financial aide. Because in high school they really coach you on how to do things step by step, and now in college you have to figure it out. And what I had to learn is that I just had to go and do it because no one was going to come and help me; I had to grow up and do it. Which is hard for me because for one thing, I’m a pretty timid person, and for another, my parents usually did a lot for me that I should have been doing for myself. And in college I wasn’t going to have my mom tag alongside me figuring everything out for me.
Me: Yeah, there’s definitely a steep learning curve and maturity curve when you start college. I felt the same thing myself. So what advice would you have for an entering freshman about financial aid?
Ashlee: Probably not to let it ruin their life where that's all they think about and worry about. Because there is aid out there that helps with college. Okpromise is saving my life right now, and it takes a lot of the financial aid burden off. I realize that that's not everywhere, but I figure that there's something similar, not sure. But they also have scholarships for just about everything. I say that it's taken some of my burden off, but I actually will have to stress about it in a few years because it will only cover my tuition for I think 2 more years. Which is another regret I do have about waiting to go back to college for so long. All those years I could be getting a lot of free money, I wasn't taking advantage of it and it didn't even really cross my mind.
Me: You mean it didn’t cross your mind that the money would expire eventually? Is that how it works?
Ashlee: Right, I didn’t really know that there was a limit on how long it would apply for me. That's to my understanding.
Me: Wow--that’s definitely something that students in Oklahoma need to know. I wasn’t aware of that the money from OKPromise would expire. So what are some things you’ve learned about college that you had to learn the hard way or that you wish you’d known when you started?
Ashlee: Something just recently actually--I’m not sure if this was something I should have been expecting which is obvious or not, but last semester my history teacher was literally so easy; he gave you exactly what would be on the test, and all you had to do is study that and eventually I stopped taking notes on what else he was talking about and just on what would be on the quiz. Now I’m in a summer intersession class, and I took my first quiz in there the other day and did horribly because you have to read the chapters in depth, look at his slides, and take good notes because it's not just some test you study for by what he actually talks about in class. I guess it's not that I wasn't expecting that; it's just not like what my first semester was like. But of course as you move on up in college, it gets harder.
Me: So you figured out that each professor is different. They all teach differently, and some are harder than others, I guess?
Me: How is college different from your expectations?
Ashlee: I can give you an example. In my comp class she would teach us one day, the next week our rough drafts were due, and then the next week we would turn in our paper. But it wasn't until two weeks after that when she would post grades, and I had thought it would be more punctual.
Me: I actually have heard of professors who wait until the end of the semester to grade any of your work and give you your grade. When I was getting my Master’s degree in library science, all the assignments were due at the very end of the semester. It was the strangest thing. The professor would grade everything at the very end, so you didn’t really know what your grade was until after the semester when you saw your grades posted.
Ashlee: That would drive me crazy, I’m very impatient when it comes to seeing my grades.
Me: You posted that you have a 4.0 so far, right?
Ashlee: Yes and I’m pretty proud of that considering my grades in high school. My goal in college was to do better than I had in high school.
In high school, for me it was like if you didn't do one assignment, not a big deal, but in college it's crucial.
Me: What advice do you have for new college students for keeping their grades up? How is college work different from high school work?
Ashlee: In highs chool, for me, it was like if you didn't do one assignment, not a big deal, but in college it's crucial because I’ve noticed that there's not as many grades taken so everything you turn in needs to be its best. The advice I have that I actually need to take more seriously myself is not to put stuff off because when it's hours before a paper's due, you’ll be thinking about dropping the class, not going, or just not turning it in. Every bad decision to not do it will run through your head, and it's extremely stressful. Even though I have turned in some pretty good papers on short notice, but that's beside the point
Me: I know my students’ number one problem seems to be procrastination. :-( Even though they know they are guilty of it, they don’t seem to want to change it, oddly enough. I have also had students wait until the last minute to submit their papers because I have them upload them online, and then they have problems uploading their papers and end up having to turn them in late and get points counted off.
Ashlee: Yes, that's one thing my comp teacher stressed was that TurnItIn can be slow, and you might not get your paper submitted on time if you wait until the last minute.
Me: Well, you seem to have learned a lot and become more confident about your college experience. That’s good news.
Ashlee: I know I still have a lot to learn though--I can only imagine.
As I’m learning how to be an adult it comes with a lot of frustration and stress and trying to not just give up.
Me: Do you have anything you want to add about your college experience or any other “grown-up” advice? :-)
Ashlee: My motto, I guess you can say, is just struggle now to succeed later. As I’m learning how to be an adult, it comes with a lot of frustration and stress and trying to not just give up. I just think about how it's shaping me for my better life when I have everything I’ve worked for. So I’ll have fun, live life in my 20’s, and learn to struggle so I’ll be somewhat of an expert at it later.
Me: Okay, well, I’m going to let you go then, Ashlee. Thanks for chatting with me and sharing your expertise. I think you know more about college that you realize!
Ashlee: Oh definitely, and thank you for asking me to do this, I enjoyed it very much
Me: Good, I’m glad to hear it. You’re welcome!!!! Okay, bye now, Ashlee! Good luck! I’m glad to hear things are going so well for you.
Ashlee: Bye bye it was so great talking to you
Me: You, too! :-) Bye!
***My thanks to Ashlee W. for sharing her collegiate expertise with me and my readers. If you would like to share your college experience on my blog, please leave a comment with your contact information (email or Twitter handle, not your phone number please) or tweet me at @WriteNonsense. Thanks!***
If you are an Oklahoma college student, here is some information you need to know regarding the expiration of Oklahoma's Promise, which Ashlee brought up in our interview:
"Once you start postsecondary education (any education after high school), your five-year time clock starts ticking. The year that you do not attend will count against your five years of scholarship eligibility; however, you can use Oklahoma's Promise again until your eligibility expires. Please contact the Oklahoma's Promise office for an exact date of eligibility expiration if you are unsure. (Limited exceptions to the five-year limit can be considered only if the interruption is due to certain hardship circumstances such as illness, injury, military service or other extraordinary situations. Please contact the Oklahoma's Promise office for more details. In no circumstances may an Oklahoma's Promise student receive benefits beyond a cumulative time period of five years.)"--from OKHigherEd.org
It's that time of year again--the transition between the old and the new, when people get the bizarre idea that somehow this year is going to be different, that somehow they're going to be so full of pep and vigor in the first month of the new year that they're going to change their lives through the sheer force of will power.
And to that, I say, BAH, HUMBUG!
Yes, I am a Scrooge when it comes to new year’s resolutions.
New year’s resolutions are a scam that we perpetrate against ourselves. We begin the new year with fervent optimism, and then as the realities of life settle in, our resolve crumbles. Then, we think, I’ll try again next year. Next year will be different. There will be more time next year.
Well, this fantasy next year is never going to happen. We've built it up too much in our minds, invested it with too much importance, imbedded it with the sparkle of a magical amulet. And when you make something that grandiose, it’s bound to fail.
So in the place of this forever unattainable “new year’s resolution,” I propose something much more humble. Instead of putting off this new you until January 1, I say do it today. Don't wait; after all, a new year’s resolution is just a euphemism for procrastination. If you're wanting to make a big change in your life--or even a little one--start out small. Trying to lose 20 pounds? Go for a five minute walk. Eat a salad with crackers and cheese for lunch. Want to write the great American novel? Sit down and write 250 words. Need to find a new job that doesn't bore you to tears? Look on monster.com. Email someone in the field and ask how he or she got started. But don't wait until January. Don't put it off. Do it today. Do it right now. Tell yourself it’s just practice for the real thing, or play whatever mind games you have to in order to get yourself going.
And then when you fail--which you are bound to do--are you going to walk away from the "new you"? Are you going to put it off until next year's resolutions? No! If you fall off the wagon once or twice, it doesn't mean you're a failure. It just means you've hit a bump in the road. Jump back on that horse (okay, I see that my metaphors or not very consistent...but hopefully you get my gist). Try again and again and again. Don't give up--you know, all those phrases that Nike summed into their three word slogan, "Just do it."
And don't forget--Carpe the diem! Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. Happy new year, peoples!
My experience working in public high schools has caused me to shake my head in dismay and declare that feminism is dead. I've seen too many girls who wear skirts so short their rear ends hang out and blouses whose necklines dart precariously toward their belly buttons. I've also known teen girls whose entire lives seem to revolve around their boyfriends, and when their relationships end, they trot like lemmings to the next guy who will have them.
Fortunately, not all girls are like that. Many of them fly under the radar because their lives are not sensationalized and they actually have self respect. Recently I had the pleasure of doing an email interview with one of them, 12-year-old Alyssa Dodd, the daughter of one of my very dear friends. Here is our exchange, my questions in bold and hers in regular font:
Based on what your mother has told me, conversations with you, and your online presence, you seem to be very interested in feminism. So I was wondering, what is your impression of feminism as a twelve year old? In other words, what does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism is fighting for female human rights. No matter what skin color, sexual interests, or religion a person has.
Why do you think that females need someone to fight for them? Do you see examples in your own life (or in other places) where females' rights are compromised (i.e. abused)?
I think every female should fight for herself, but not all women think they need to. I do see examples in my life where women are oppressed. For example, a friend of mine who is a girl, wanted to help a teacher move some desks, but the teacher wouldn’t let her and chose boys. She is actually bigger and stronger than the boys chosen.
In 5th grade, the teachers took all the girls in my class aside and told them that they were causing problems by being so dramatic and that the boys never caused similar problems, which was not true.
What has influenced your views on feminism?
My main influences on my views of feminism are my mom and social media. I follow people on Instagram who share my interests and inspire me and I talk about everything with my mom.
What are your mother's views on feminism? How has she influenced your views?
She thinks girls shouldn’t have to prove themselves and that they should get the same respect boys do.
She has taught me a lot about sexism and what to do about it.
What do you see in social media regarding feminism?
I see all kinds of things on social media, things against racism, sexism, self-harm, beauty standards and more things.
What do your peers (your friends and classmates) think about feminism?
My peers strongly disagree with feminism. Mostly because they think some of it is against the bible.
In what ways do your peers think that feminism is against the Bible? Do you agree that it is against the Bible?
They think that feminism is against the bible because it also regards gay rights. I do not think that feminism is against the bible, because the bible also says to love all people, not hate and disrespect them.
What do your peers think about your ideas on feminism?
My peers do not like my ideas of feminism, mostly because they believe it is a movement for gay people’s rights too.
Why do they associate feminism with gay rights? I don't get it.
The reason they associate it with feminism is because it is for all women, not just straight women.
Do you think feminism is also a movement for gay rights?
I think a small part of feminism is also gay rights, but feminism is made up of a lot of things.
Why are they against gay rights?
I honestly think that the reason they are against gay rights is because they want to feel [like they are] better than other people.
How do you feel that your views on feminism might influence your future, such as your social life, your relationships, your career choices, and your life choices in general?
I want to be a powerful woman when I get older. I plan on becoming a lawyer. And I do not want to marry.
Thanks, Alyssa, for the interview!
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So just to be completely transparent, I didn't come up with this idea. In fact, it comes from a TED talk I watched by Amy Cuddy, which I've tried to spread far and wide and which I hope you check out after reading this post. I'm summarizing it here because I just think it's too darn great not to.
Alphas are big. They may not have big bodies, but they use their arms and legs to make themselves deem bigger than what they actually are. They hold their heads up high. They emanate power and confidence and maybe even arrogance and aggression as well. They don't walk; they swagger. They're in charge, and they know it.
It turns out that big cheeses exist in both the animal and human world. In fact, we behave a lot like animals in this regard. When we feel confident, we tend to make ourselves physically bigger. Cuddy talks about competition winners in particular. At the moment of victory, their arms go up and they lift their heads so that all the world can see *I'm It. Yes, look at me. I'm Super-Awesome, and I know it.* It doens't matter if they've seen anyone stand this way or not; it's a natural human (and animal) response.
On the flip side, people who are feeling insecure tend to close in on themselves. They keep their arms and legs close to their core bodies, lean over, keep their heads down, and avoid eye contact. They don't try to make themselves big; in fact, they do the exact opposite.
Or if you're sitting down, you can put your legs up on the desk in front of you and cross your arms behind your head, like you're the CEO in a fancy Manhattan building with a big window and an awesome view.
But wait! Does this really work? I mean, it sounds a little bit goofy, right?
Apparently it does work. Standing like this--in your power pose--actually changes the chemicals in your brain. It increases the testosterone levels in your brain, which leads to feelings of dominance and confidence, while decreasing the cortisol levels, which diminishes your feelings of stress.
So, yeah, just by standing like Wonder Woman, you can hijack your brain chemistry.
Of course, this research doesn't imply that you should constantly stand around like Wonder Woman or dress like Wonder Woman or tell people your name is Wonder Woman (which is what my niece used to do). People might look at you like you were a lunatic if you did. What you should do instead, according to Cuddy, is try out one of these poses before an evaluative situation, such as a performance, a test, a speech, or a job interview. Instead of just sitting around panicking and checking your phone messages, try slipping away to a private area--like a bathroom stall--and get your superhero pose on. Be quiet but be proud.
Cuddy suggests doing a power pose for about two minutes to pump yourself up. Her research shows that's all the time you need to make a real (temporary) difference in your brain chemistry.
Full disclosure--I decided to test out this technique before my last job interview. I stood in the bathroom with my hands on my hips, feet apart, and head up for a few minutes. During the interview itself , I felt very confident even when they asked me questions I hadn't prepared for. And best of all, I ended up getting the job.
So next time you're facing a stressful, evaluative situation, pretend you're Wonder Woman (or some other superhuman). Be the alpha!
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So which one are you? A big cheese or a tiny crumb? Well, maybe you're both. It probably depends on the situation, right? If you're thinking about giving a speech in front of class, you're probably a sweaty, nervous, car wreck, but if you're playing that video game you're the bomb at, you're probably Captain Fearless. The truly good news-tastic thing is that there's a really simple way to transform yourself from a pile of sweaty wimpdom to a superhero fantasticon.
Here's how: Hack your brain using your body language.
Make yourself physically bigger. Extend your arms and legs into a big X shape. Or try this--the Wonder woman pose:
Recently I had a coming to Jesus talk with a high school student (well, more like a coming to the real world talk). He's a sleeper and a goofer-offer (yeah, I'm pretty sure that's a word). He doesn't apply himself even though he's intelligent. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, you know the type I'm talking about. These are the kinds of kids who make me bash my head against the wall (I'll show you the bumps on my forehead if you're interested ;-).
So I asked him what motivates him. He said he only does work that is fun or that he's interested in. I asked him if the thinks that everything in life is going to be fun or interesting. He said his dad makes tons of money, owns his own business, and has fun every day. Needless to say, the young man made it quite clear that if something isn't fun, he doesn't think it's worth doing.
So what do you think? Do you think that you should avoid everything that isn't "fun" and that if you do so your life will turn out okay?
Well, you can probably guess that I don't think so. (Hey, I'm an old person. We're meant to rain on your parade--and if you don't know what that saying means, then I must be REALLY old :-)
Imagine this. It's 200,000 years ago and you're a naked early human on the plains of Africa. Life ain't easy. You have scars on your body from run-ins with big, toothy animals and all those times you stepped on sharp sticks and rocks. If you don't hunt or find food, you starve. In fact, you've lost a lot of people in your tribe over the years because they got eaten by hungry lions, they got sick and died, or they starved to death. You are constantly on the move, constantly on guard. You even keep your ears wide open when you're asleep and are only able to rest in fits and starts. But since you're so alert all the time and because you ultimately prevail over so many challenges, you are well attuned to your environment, you're smart, and your brain is really well developed.
So I'd like to reiterate that last part--because you face so many challenges (I mean, if you don't, you end up as some predator's lunch, right?) and succeed, you are smart and your brain is really well developed.
I believe that the only way we grow as humans is by facing challenges, not avoiding them, and by solving problems, like algebra equations and stuff (oh, and maybe other important problems, too, like global warming and child poverty). It makes us smart, and frankly, it just makes us better people. Or as your old grandpappy with only two teeth left in his head likes to say, it builds character.
Life is like that. Without challenges, life is boring. Whether it's a ninja were-rabbit in a video game or a leaky shelter on the plains of Africa, people need challenges to make life more interesting and to keep their neurons (brain cells) firing.
As opposed to the African plain scenario above, imagine this: you live in a white cube. All the walls are white. The floor is white. The ceiling is white. Everything is white. You don't have any windows. All you have is a white couch to sit on and sleep on. The temperature is always set comfortably, neither too hot nor too cold. Meals are delivered to you periodically, and you have a restroom area. All of your primary needs--food, water, shelter--are taken care of. So you have no problems. You don't have to struggle for anything, and you face no challenges.
Oh, except for that one problem, maybe--boredom.
Does this white cube scenario sound better than the one on the African plain? Yes, you may answer, because you get to sleep all the time. Well, I've had the opportunity to sleep a lot, and believe me, it gets really boring after a while.
The problem with the second scenario is not that there isn't anything fun to do; the problem is that there are no challenges to engage your brain. Let's put it a different way. If you're playing a video game where your character just walks around and picks up things, the game is going to get boring pretty quick. If there are no bad guys to defeat or treasure to find, what's the point?
Life is like that. Without challenges, life is boring. Whether it's a ninja were-rabbit in a video game or a leaky shelter on the plains of Africa, people need challenges to make life more interesting and to keep their neurons (brain cells) firing.
So, yeah, you may say, but what about the challenges I have to face that are boring, like doing homework or cleaning my room or listening to my teacher drone on and on about nothing?
Well, here's the thing. You want to be an adult someday, I assume, if you aren't already, right? Adults have to do stupid, boring stuff all the time. We have to wait in line at the grocery store, listen to old people talk about their health problems, do our taxes every year, pay bills, et cetera and et cetera and et cetera, ad nauseam.
Just because something is boring doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Here's what doing the boring stuff when you're young does for you--it mentally prepares you for the boring stuff you have to do later in life. It allows you to tolerate boring stuff and gives you the ability to overcome it.
Doing dumb, boring stuff in school prepared me very well for the challenges of life in the so-called real world. I remember when I was in high school I took home economics (now called Family and Consumer Science). We always had these boring tests where we had to list boring information, and if we didn't memorize all the boring information, we didn't do well on the test. So I was one of those annoying kids who had to get A's in everything, and I would memorize those completely useless lists--not because I cared about all the different ways you could cook a chicken or whatever; no, what I cared about was getting an A. And what I gained from that experience was not the information from the class; it was the ability to work on something dull, master it, and go on to something else.
That's what a lot of the stuff you're learning in school is for. Do you think I use the slope intercept formula in my day to day life or that I suddenly start spouting the Gettysburg Address? No, of course not. You'd be hard pressed to find many adults who do. But what learning those things did for us was to get us ready for all the crap we would have to face in the grown-up world. Because in the post-high school world, it's not just about tasks and assignments, it's about missing your flight and being stuck in Pittsburgh for three hours. It's about ripping up your carpet because it's been destroyed by a water leak. It's about exchanging insurance information after you accidentally rear end the car in front of you. It's about eating your Aunt Mildred's milk toast casserole even though it is as bland as pencil shavings. Yes, sitting in that boring geography class learning the rivers of South America actually prepares you to face challenges like these and rise to the occasion.
So next time you're stuck in geography class (or whatever class is your nemesis) remember that what you're gaining is the ability to survive, to get your neurons working, to face challenges and succeed, and those are what will make your life turn out not just okay, but better than okay.
Here are some websites with information from boring, old people like me on how to get boring stuff done:
"How to Get the Boring Tasks Done"--This article gives several techniques for how you can get those boring tasks done without losing your mind.
"Why Boring Tasks Are Important...And How to Get Through Them"--This article gives great short-term and long-term solutions for the problem of boring tasks.
"7 Ways to Make Boring Tasks Bearable"--The author lists seven methods she's come up with for tackling boring tasks.
"Six Ways to Stay Motivated during Hideously Boring Tasks"--The author offers six tips for how to make boring jobs a little less boring.
If any of these links are broken, please let me know in the comments section. And if you need more articles like this, try googling "how to do boring tasks."
And if you are looking for your good deed to do for the day, you could click the "like" or "tweet" buttons below and spread this article to your friends. Please and thank you, dah-ling. :-)
The person I want to be smiles at everyone, even strangers; is a great teacher who has wonderful rapport with her students and is able to inspire them to do great things; influences people to do the right thing even when it hurts; doesn't care about fashion but always looks put together; has a wonderful relationship with her daughter; mentors young people, who respect and admire her; works fearlessly to make the world a better place; makes the people around her feel happy and enthusiastic; eats right and exercises; and is generally a superlative, super-human type of person.
Have you ever done that? Wrote down the qualities you wish you had? Have you ever looked at someone and said to yourself, "Why can't that be me?"
Here are some words of advice from the great British writer and satirist Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
Well, that's a a real letdown, isn't it? Why can't I be that other person I admire? Am I really trapped in this body, in this brain? Am I really fated to be the loser that I already am?
No, you're not. Notice Wilde said to be yourself; he didn't say not to imagine yourself as someone else.
So here's my challenge--Imagine yourself as the best version of you. Pretend to be the person you want to be.
Let me give you an example. I work as a teacher, but inside, I don't feel like I am a teacher. Teachers are these people who are in charge, in control. Teachers know what they are talking about and are able to bring out the best in their students. They inspire. They are experts in their field. Well, guess what? I'm not any of those things, or at the least, I don't feel like I am. That's why I wrote that I work as a teacher, not that I am a teacher.
So since I don't feel like I am this paradigm of teacherliness, what can I do? Quit my job? No, I have to make a living. Admit to my students that I am an imposter who doesn't know what she's talking about? Well, maybe, but I don't want to make them lose their respect for me. So what can I do?
I can pretend to be a great teacher. I can think to myself, "Well, what would a great teacher do in this situation?" And then I can do whatever I think a great teacher would do.
Yes, that's the secret. Pretend to be
the person you want to be.
Let me give you another example.
Recently I was at an event put on by an organization I am affiliated with called Dallas Interfaith Power and Light. It was a film screening I had helped organize, and about 65 people showed up. When I got there, I saw people milling around, waiting for the film to start. Well, I felt a bit less than confident. I didn't know most of the other people there, and the people I did know were busy talking to other people. I could have found a seat and hid my face in the screen of my phone. But I decided, no, that is not what a representative of this organization should do. So instead, I decided to mingle. I walked up to a guy I didn't know and started talking to him. I asked him what had inspired him to come to the event. I asked him what kind of work he did. I started a conversation. And the thing that allowed me to break out of my shell and take a chance is that I imagined what a true advocate and exemplary representative of Dallas IPL would do, and I did that.
This technique requires you to don a mask. The mask is made of up the characteristics of the personality you want to assume. Want to be class president? Imagine what a class president would do, would sound like, would look like, and do those things. Want to attract girls? Think about what an attractive guy (or girl) would do, what he would say, what he would look like, and do those things. Want to be an ace student? Think about what an A+ student would do, would sound like, would look like, and do those things. Yes, that's the secret. Pretend to be the person you want to be.
Don't think it works? Don't believe me? This post is partially inspired by a TED talk by Amy Cuddy, who describes how she managed to become a college student even though she knew she didn't belong. Her advice: fake it until you become it. If you do nothing else, please watch this video. It will definitely give you a different view on life and gift with you some techniques to ramp up your brain chemistry.
So that's my advice. Fake it until you are it. Be your best you--the best you that lives in your imagination.
If this post made you think, inspired you, or caused you to wet your pants, please pass it along (the ideas, not your smelly underwear)...Let your friends know by using the buttons below to "like" it or tweet it. And thanks for reading!
You don't know what you're doing. You don't belong here. You're not good enough. Look at the people around you with their nice haircuts and their nice clothes, or maybe some of them don't have nice clothes or nice haircuts. But it doesn't matter cause they know what they're doing. It doesn't matter if some of them say stupid things or do really badly in school or get into fights all the time. It doesn't matter if they have been arrested and if you know they are alcoholics or sluts or drug addicts because the truth is that they get it and you don't! Face it. You don't belong here. What are you doing? You are clueless!
Does this voice sound familiar to you? Okay, so maybe the little demon in your head telling you these things isn't as vicious as this one, but maybe part of it does resonate with you. Well, you're not alone. In fact, there's a name for this little voice. It's called the imposter syndrome.
See that handsome guy who gets good grades and is an ace athlete? I bet he suffers from imposter syndrome. See that beautiful girl with straight A's who is the student council president? Yep, I bet she feels like an imposter too.
That little italicized paragraph at the top--well, that's what my demon voice sounds like. It has ranted at me like that through most of my life. See, I was a good student, a really good student (at least in comparison to my peers). I got A's all through high school (except for one B in theater class because I was too shy and scared to be in the school play). I was the valedictorian of my senior class and the captain of my state-winning academic team. I graduated from college summa cum laude (that means I graduated with a 4.0, 4 years of A's in every class). I earned an MA in English and an MEd in library science. So with this substantial, impressive background, you'd think that I would be some sort of super-confident blonde girl who flipped her hair and had beautiful fingernails.
Well, no, that's not me at all. I still have feelings of doubt, and it's usually when I'm surrounded by my peers (i.e. other adults whom I perceive to be more "in the know" than I am). You probably get that feeling, too. In fact, I think most people do.
See that handsome guy who gets good grades and is an ace athlete? I bet he suffers from imposter syndrome. See that beautiful girl with straight A's who is the student council president? Yep, I bet she feels like an imposter too. The truth is that when you look at successful people around you and think they are super-competent, super-confident people, you're probably wrong. They probably feel as much like a schmuck as you do.
So what can you do when you feel like an imposter? I've listed some resources below, and along with that, I'll tell you what's worked for me--serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates your mood--not enough of it, and you suffer from feelings of self worthlessness and depression. Well, I truly think that my brain is screwed up (a lot of writers have this problem), so I've learned to balance my brain chemistry with pharmaceutical remedies. Talk to your doctor about 5HTP, but more importantly, check out these resources below:
"Imposter Syndrome"--Wikipedia gives a guick and dirty understanding of imposter syndrome.
"The Imposter Syndrome"--Caltech gives a more comprehensive guide to imposter syndrome than does Wikipedia.
"Imposter Syndrome"--Geek Feminism Wiki targets women specifically, explaining how imposter syndrome manifests itself and what you can do to minimize its effects.
"21 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome"--Exactly as the title suggests, the article gives twenty-one tips for overcoming imposter syndrome. It also quotes and refers to famous people who suffer the affliction.
"The Imposter Syndrome: Mastering the Art of Pretending"--The author gives a personal account of her struggle to overcome imposter syndrome in the male-dominated world of computer programming and offers three pieces of advice she wishes she'd known when she was younger.
"Overcome the Imposter Syndrome"--Dr. Valerie Young blogs about imposter syndrome and wants you to buy her book about it. (Yeah, I didn't buy the book either and don't plan to.)
In my next blog piece, I'm going to talk about faking competence, for your own sake, not for anyone else's. In the mean time, remember that even the best of us have had the same self-defeating thoughts you've had. You're not alone.
If you're hip to this jive (translation--if you liked this post), please click the "like" and "tweet" buttons below to spread the word. Thanks, daddy-o. (Okay, so I didn't grow up in the 50's or 60's and don't actually talk this way...just so you know.)
Word and Book Lover.