In reality, we’re all bad at something, probably many things. For example, I’m bad at cooking, but I discovered how to bake a cheesecake from scratch. When I started my doctoral journey, I had no idea that writing could be so complicated. I wasn’t a bad writer, but I had bad writing habits. And writing is at the heart of your dissertation program. What can you learn from being bad at something?
I found a blog about the value of being bad at something. The being bad part is linked to how you feel about your failures. It’s about how you bounce back from a setback, a very familiar feeling in any graduate program.
For instance, thick skin one thing you must have to finish your program. You will be criticized and challenged to defend your ideas. The fear of failure can be paralyzing.
It’s that gut feeling you get when you write a paper and the feedback from the writing editor is to start all over again. Some of us in graduate school had a history of solid academic learning. Some of us.
For me, not so much.
Chemistry kicked my butt in undergrad – I thought I was doomed to fail. Doomed! I thought about switching from a biology degree to basket weaving.
But the fear of failure made me find an excellent tutor who saved me. She taught me to work and think smarter. I will forever be grateful to HM for her guidance.
Working With Unpleasantness
Failure is a hard feeling to overcome. It can be a slow process, something called a “growth mindset“. It’s a belief that practice and hard work is stronger than your shortcomings. AKA: You don’t have to be born with certain skills – you can learn them.
The unpleasant realization that you’re bad at something is a sign: if you want it, you’ll have to work for it.
And you still may not succeed. The most important thing is that you worked to improve your talents.
The Easy Stuff
Another reality is that most of the time, we do things that we’re good at. You’re probably good at your daily tasks and can do them with ease. It’s probably one reason we get bored with our jobs – it’s too easy doing the easy stuff.
The blog concluded that we do things that we’re bad at. Muscle and brain atrophy are common and if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them.
Besides, doing the hard things that challenge us, keeps our lives interesting. It keeps us engaged, makes us want to do better, and to try things differently.
Outside the Pipe Dream
Perfection is a pipe dream. You need to move past this pipe dream. Dr. Patti and I like to control things. In graduate school, we had to let it go and move past the idea of perfection.
Your dissertation will never be perfect, it just needs to be good enough for all the gatekeepers. That’s the goal: get it done and get out.
We’re all human and will fail in many ways. Use your setbacks to move forward to exercise your muscles in different ways.
Failure is a detour not a dead-end street.