Saturday, September 28, 2013

Self-Care Strategy #7: Remind myself that worrying will not improve my situation, so just stop it already

I have quite a few topics I really want to blog about, but then I also have several upcoming deadlines for work as well. Having deadlines stress me out tremendously, but instead of tackling the tasks one by one, I go into this avoidance mode where I would surf the net, play solitaire, clean, do laundry, anything but do actual work. I believe the procrastination activities are supposed to serve as panic alleviating purposes, but at the end of the day, the deadline is still there, nothing work-wise got accomplished, so the panic continues.

This has happened to me so many times during school years, and I always roughed through it (pull all nighters etc). Seeing how unaccomplished I am in my professional and personal aspects of life, I would say that the old strategy did not serve me well at all. Seems like rather than trying to push away the worrying by procrastination, I should actually deal with my feelings. Only when it goes away can I actually get some work done.

New strategy: alleviate the worrying by imagining what's the worst that can happen to me if I completely flunk my tasks (in this particular case, a presentation). I could:

- Embarrass myself in front of a whole bunch of people
- Embarrass and disappoint my boss
- have to deal with my colleague's smug satisfaction that I make myself look bad while she can seem much more put together than me.

I don't think I would actually lose my job if I screw up this particular task. But even if I lose this job, I just couldn't care less. It's a little sad, but as I no longer have high ambitions, I do not feel bad if I lose this career and have to do something else. Since this is the case, I should stop worrying. Just get something done and let nature run its course.

Even know logically I know worrying is not a useful feeling, my old patterns take over so easily. Time to remind myself over and over again: self-care matters more than work accomplishments. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Emotional maturity, Impostor syndrome, "Lean in" movement

My work and my relationship challenge me left, right and center every day. I read up on "emotional maturity" and find out (unsurprisingly) that I am pretty juvenile when it comes to EQ.

It seems to be a big topic that women are less likely to stay on track in their careers because they're more likely to feel like impostors. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, started a movement called "Lean In", asking women to stay confident, stay ambitious, keep moving up the ladder in the organization, even if they think they want to put more focus on family and children some day.

While I did often feel like an impostor (not good enough for my job), lately it's the other way around. I feel like I am not enough of an impostor to play the game of "fake it 'til you make it", and worse, "fake it after you make it, for the rest of your life".

Lately I get this strong feeling that my PhD supervisor (a woman), my current bosses and I suspect most leaders in all organization are all impostors. Even when they don't fully understand something they will behave and speak in a manner that make it seem like they are the expert on that subject. Basically whoever's the most ambitious and can act like they know things better than other people make it to the top. The actual knowledge matters less. The appearance matters more than the essence.

So, if I also direly wish to become a professor or a group leader, instead of improving my scientific knowledge, I should actually put more efforts into improving my self confidence, learning to speak and act like a leader. I should be more emotionally mature and not blow the cover of other impostor leaders, acknowledging that their "expert advice" sound totally helpful and I should give it a try, instead of pointing out that they have no idea what they are talking about and are just throwing out some random buzz words to show they are not completely oblivious to the topic at hand.

Except that's not what I want at all. I dislike being an impostor working closely among other impostors. I want to be in a position where I am actually good at what I do, and working among other inspiring people. I don't care if I "downshift" my career as long as I'm among the right people, but I don't know if there's such a community out there for me, or if the whole world is just full of impostors at high positions in governments, banks, businesses, and scientific institutions.

Maybe I'll think differently if I become more "emotionally mature", and right now I'm just ranting like a juvenile. Who knows.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Appearance vs. Essence

I was complaining to a friend back home how I don't like the political aspects of my work place, how I don't like the superficiality I experience everywhere. He reminds me that in the current world, everyone focuses on the appearance of things rather than the essence. If I can distinguish what is for appearance only and what is the essence of a person, an event, or an issue, I would be less frustrated with the world.

My friend is totally right. I have been placing my focus on the wrong aspects in life. Even though I am deeply frustrated that yoga has become this trendy, overly-marketed, money-grabbing overly-hyped activity meant for bendy, skinny, pretty girls, the essence of yoga-teaching is good. Even though like any job, my work involves some politics, some back-stabbing, some ass-kissing, tons of compromises, focus on the wrong stuff (getting grants and networking with "important" people), the essence of the nature of my work is good. I am trying to understand how living things operate. This understanding could help us combat diseases, or just understand ourselves better. It is a lot more meaningful than being, say, a stock broker (at least to me). I should look past the marketing, hype, and frustrations, and focus on the good.

Thanks to my friend's reminder, I will be looking for the essence of events and issues for awhile. It takes practice since my habit it to focus on the bad (the appearance). I am grateful to have such wise friends who can guide me during frustrating times.