Connection Cafe - Feeling the Pressure

August 30, 2014

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure from my peers and from myself lately about finding research opportunities. I’m losing sleep, and I feel guilty taking breaks and naps. It’s almost as if I’m not human when I’m so anxious and busy all the time. I even turn down invitations to go out with friends because my schedule is so packed and it feels terrible. I’m trying to change that, but it’s very difficult. And what if I don’t find one that fits my interest or what if it isn’t one of the better ones?

Dear anonymous,

You bring up two very good points here. Let me first commend you for wanting to stay on top of things and land that research opportunity you very well deserve! :) I think it’s great you’re being mindful; it’s important to take the time to look deep within yourself sometimes when you’re conscious or wary of your current state of mind; not necessarily to second guess yourself but for you to figure out what’s best for you. I recommend journaling your thoughts, or at least reflecting on your days (perhaps before you sleep?) because venting can be very therapeutic to some individuals. Definitely take those mini-breaks too no matter how busy you say you are and reconnect with one or two close friends even if it’s just for a solid hour. Don’t ever hesitate to swing by the Tang Center too! There are professionals who are very supportive if you feel like you can’t figure this out alone. :)

As for research, it’s much more than just another wonderful thing to put on your resume although it’s definitely a plus. Any opportunity you go for is essentially another way for you as a lifelong learner to challenge yourself to think critically, for you to delve deeper into something you’re interested in, and maybe even to make a real contribution to knowledge, so be grateful for what may initially not seem rewarding and beneficial to you because, with everything you do, there really is always something to gain out of it if you so allow it. Be confident in your abilities, and if it means anything coming from a stranger, I think you’re going to be just fine. :)