JacqueLENS PhD

"There have always been highly capable women wanting to be scientists." Rita Colwell, PhD

Average No Longer

May 10, 2022

This semester has required me to work harder than I ever have before. There were too many nights where I worked until 12 am to count (no I do not recommend this practice). But although my course work was intense to say the least, I have learned an incredible amount.  As I reflect back to the scientist I was just one year ago, I don’t recognize myself and I know my coursework is to thank.

But the fact is, the student I am today is very different from the student I was in high school or college. Those years were extraordinarily challenging for me which is not surprising given that I struggled with learning which was only compounded by having a learning disability, Dyslexia (check out my learning disability post: https://bit.ly/37DjmYK). I spent so much of my time just trying to be average with my peers. I was nowhere near extraordinary. There were several college courses where I was just thankful I passed with a C! 

I graduated in the very middle of my high school class and had average grades in undergrad. But since I began my masters degree, I have only improved and now am flourishing! For me, getting into specialized studies allowed me to maximize all my strengths. I have truly found my niche. 
Even though I’ve found my niche, being in a PhD isn’t easy. Students are constantly comparing themselves to each other and sometimes professors give unfounded feedback. It is so easy to allow these factors to cause you to doubt yourself and your purpose. But I’ve spent so much of my schooling struggling to be average, I refuse to doubt myself now. I now know what I am capable of. When people question my work without a valid reason, I am not going to back down from my convictions and doubt my knowledge. I highly value and consider all constructive feedback, as I believe this is a vital part of the learning process that is necessary to improve your skills, but unfounded feedback is not beneficial. I’m done allowing people to turn on my imposter syndrome.

But what I really want you to get out of this blog post is not that I am successful, but that you can be too! If you are doubting yourself or struggling just to be mediocre, it will get better. If someone has given you unfounded feedback (because there is truly a difference between constructive and unfounded feedback) move past it and be open to constructive comments in the future. You just need to find your niche. This doesn’t have to be in your classes but could be teaching, conducing a research study, or trying out a new career! You will be extraordinary, you just have to keep trying.