This week has been insane. A freakin’ roller coaster of emotions and adventures and lessons learned. This week started in Bryce Canyon Utah. As you know, my body hasn’t exactly been functional lately, but on Sunday, it allowed me to hike in some of the coolest country I’ve ever seen. Walking around giant hoodoos and excited tourists, I found myself amazed at how incredible this world is. Fast forward to Monday night, I reunited with some of my best friends in my old college town. Food was had, jokes were made, it was amazing. It was honestly the happiest I’d been in a long time.
Now let’s fast forward again to Wednesday. Getting ready for my thesis defense, emotions were HIGH. Crying for no reason, feeling sick to my stomach, and just anxious as all get out. It was crazy, and honestly not very fun. And honestly it taught me so many lessons. As hard as it was to get through this week, I’m grateful for the experience. I’m grateful for the strength I have found and the support I’ve been given. And I’m grateful for these lessons.
5 Life Lessons I Learned This Week
As I was getting ready for my thesis defense Wednesday morning, I came to realize I’d screwed up the scheduling. The computer had interpreted the time for which I scheduled my defense to be 2pm PST, when I really meant it to be 2pm MST. So, everyone on my committee received the wrong time! I didn’t realize it until THAT MORNING. Needless to say, I freaked out. Luckily, my adviser is incredible and helped me through the situation. Also, having friends in the administration department doesn’t hurt either! So the lesson is, shit happens. We all have to deal with it. Sometimes we deal with it well, sometimes we don’t. But it always has a way of working itself out.
Have faith in yourself and the universe.
In the days leading up to my thesis defense, I (surprisingly) was not incredibly anxious. I had the support of my family, friends, and faculty. I knew I had done good work and the defense would go okay. But, the morning of, I freaked out. Not just because of my scheduling faux pas, but because I was second guessing myself. I was scared what kind of questions they could ask. What if I didn’t know something? What if I freaked out in the middle of the presentation? Then I reminded myself: it’s okay to not know the answer to a question. I also reminded myself of all the presentations I’ve given that have gone WELL. I also thought about how, again, things always have a tendency to work themselves out. And that’s pretty darn cool.
It’s okay to cry.
Wednesday morning, I was a wreck. Although I thought I was doing okay at first, but then I sat down to breakfast with my mom and had to hold back tears. I wasn’t sad about anything. I was scared. And I was nervous as hell. My anxiety was not only wreaking havoc on my mental state, but on my body as well. I HURT. So bad. Every part of me. And heading into a big presentation, that’s really not the state you want to be in.
On top of all of that, I had screwed something up, and that’s the worst thing to happen the morning of. So, when I got back to the hotel room by myself (I’m don’t like crying in front of people), I broke down. For a good 5 minutes, I just let it flow. Then, I felt better. I got back to business and started taking care of things that needed to be done. Crying is how my body reacts to stress. It doesn’t make me weak or crazy, it’s just how I am. So I honored that, let it happen, and moved on.
There is more to life than school or work.
Through all of this planning and freaking out, there’s one thing that stuck in my mind: this isn’t life or death. It’s a presentation. THAT’S IT. Nothing about it determines my value as a human, my character, or my life. I saw a pair of babies in the lobby of the hotel that morning, and that was a great reminder. I’m 24, single, and have the rest of my life ahead of me. Literally this whole thesis defense thing was maybe two hours of my life. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. So, unless you’re a heart surgeon or something (if you are, you’re incredible), your job or school stuff is really just stuff. It’s not life or death. It doesn’t determine your merit. You are incredible simply because you are YOU.
At least you’re not Mark Zuckerberg.
I don’t know if y’all say, but Mark Zuckerberg was under some HEAT this week. Understandably so, but seeing pictures and video of him testifying in front of congress really put things into perspective for me. Specifically that picture of him almost completely surrounded by journalists. Talk about pressure! I think ole Marky could stand to learn a few lessons himself.
Honestly, seeing that really helped me feel better about my own stressful presentation. His company affects and the mistakes it makes affect billions of people! That’s pressure. My little Master’s thesis, while incredibly important to me, doesn’t affect billions of people. And I’m super okay with that.