Recently the opportunity to apply for something came across my email. I actually want to apply for this thing. I think it would be a good idea. It’s something I’m interested in. But then there’s that voice from my mind that says one sentence that makes me a lot less sure. It generally takes the form

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 You’re too old to apply. You’re too busy to do this. You’re too inexperienced to go for it. There are other variations, of course:

You’re not ______ to ______.

You’re never _______ to _______.

Probably a year ago, I’d have listened to that voice. And fully believed it. I don’t fully agree anymore. That voice has a point. I’m not likely to get this thing, but I also won’t get it if I don’t even try. There are limits: I will never be president of the United States (in that case, nor do I want to be).

I’ve been casting about for a purpose/something that truly motivates me to really build a career on. I haven’t really found it yet, but may be getting closer. It involves science, education, getting people to be more science literate, taking care of myself and my mental health (and helping others do so if I can) and it involves continuous learning/exploring/curiosity.

I am going to apply for this thing. I’m not likely to get it. But I am trying to force myself to put myself out there in the world more this year, even if it means falling flat on my face (in other words, being more vulnerable). I think being disconnected and closed off has been a huge problem in my life.

One part of getting over my depression is increasing the amount of self-compassion. I have a habit of deflecting compliments that come my way. I heard an alternative response that really felt different:

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 “Why thank you. I also __________. This is rabidly self-promoting in some ways. Something I tend to shy away from. It makes mesound more impressive than I typically feel. I haven’t quite put this into practice yet, but it’s something I do internally a bit more. Give myself credit for when I have a small victory. And just feeling like it’s OK to try things. I know I’m a scientist and shouldn’t shy away from experiments, but it’s only recently that I feel like I’m the agent driving those experiments- both at work and in life more generally.

Do you have the voice that says you’re too _____ to ______?

Do you take compliments well? How do you respond?

Ever on and on.



Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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