Impostor Syndrome

Technically, Impostor Syndrome can be defined as: “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.” (According to Google).

When I first started to consider graduate school late last summer, self-doubt and feelings of “intellectual fraudulence” didn’t even begin to cover it. What right did I have to pursue graduate school? While I genuinely enjoyed many of my classes, I was not a straight A student. I can hardly spell without spell check. I would rather spend 5 hours on a paper for a B+ than 10 hours on a paper for an A. After getting over my initial fears and actually telling people I was going to apply to grad school, I did a truly incredible job of convincing myself that I wasn’t going to get in. That admissions committees across the country would be able to read through the lines of my carefully crafted personal statement and slightly above average transcripts, and send back massive LOL’s.

Somehow, in this universe, that didn’t happen. I’ve actually gotten more acceptances from schools than rejections, and just returned from my first admitted students weekend. If you feel like truly exploring the depths of your Impostor Syndrome, visit a campus of a grad school you are interested in. 

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Battling feelings of fraud is tricky. On one hand you feel as though you are going to get found out at any moment, that you will get pulled aside and told “I’m so sorry, we made a mistake, you should potentially look at other options”, and on the other hand, you want to bust down doors and throw your qualifications in the air like confetti. It turns into proving your worth to yourself, and not just anonymous admissions committees. They have deemed you qualified enough, and yet you still seek that validation.

After two days of back-to-back funding interviews, article discussions, campus tours, and plenty of opportunities to interact with current students and other candidates, it was time to face the facts. I did belong there. I absolutely deserved to be admitted to the program, just like every other individual in the room. I was able to hold my own in mock class discussions, and I feel confident about my interviews. At no point during the weekend did I feel left behind in an intellectual sense, and felt a few of my final graduate-level fears melt away.

It’s a funny thing when Impostor Syndrome fades. It’s not like you all of a sudden feel amazing about yourself, but it’s a quiet voice in your head that whispers: “speak up- your opinion is valid”.

I’m sure this won’t be my last interaction with Impostor Syndrome, with plenty of interviews and campus visits to go, but it’s a score for my confidence levels that I won this round. I do want this, and that’s okay. I want to be a graduate student, and am qualified to do so. I am not “less than” anyone else in the room. Feeling confident or having a sense of belonging doesn’t make me an egotistical maniac, but it does make me brave. Recognizing feelings of inadequacy doesn’t make me failure, it makes me a human who feels authentic nerves. And acknowledging that this is something I really want doesn’t make me cocky or fearless, if anything it does the opposite, but it does make me believe in my qualifications just that much more.

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Let’s Be Real

Let’s discuss some facts here:

  • I’ve gotten REALLY good at meal prepping. Like, it only took a month and it’s second nature now to pack all my meals ahead of time. While I’ve learned that I get sick of things if I eat them for a week straight, I’ve figured out a good cook-three-times-a-week system
  • I just celebrated a birthday! I was fortunate enough spend my birthday road tripping, experiencing a city I’ve never been to (Woooooo St. Louis) and getting to see TRAIN with Matt Nathanson and The Fray in concert!
  • The blog has gotten boring

The blog has gotten boring because I feel like I’ve hit a rut- not with writing or anything in itself but just a general RUT. Warning, rant ahead.

Exactly a year ago I was leaving to spend a month in Vietnam, teaching English and coaching soccer, without knowing a single other person there. I felt like a made a difference, even though I didn’t see how at the beginning, and I learned a ridiculous amount about myself and the world. After that I had my final year of college and college eligibility to look forward to- all the highs and lows and every glorious moment in between.

Currently, my life is working full time and working part time and working events on and off. While I comprehend how much I am learning in a professional capacity, and how fortunate I am to have an internship (and a job immediately following) right after graduation, I’m not feeling that spark of excitement and nerves. I’m feeling a mild buzz of excitement that accompanies wanting to do a great job and learn and excel- but am I really pushing my boundaries? Am I in a role that requires the characteristics I utilized in Vietnam, like thinking on my feet or simply adapting to my surroundings?

I find myself coming home from the office, day after day, and spending hours researching graduate programs, or international volunteer opportunities, or various certifications. I’m in all-in kind of person, and I’m struggling with finding “hobbies”. I don’t know how to “dabble” in things at all. If I run 3 miles one day I imagine training for a marathon. I’ve already made a spreadsheet comparing various Master degree programs, and yet another spreadsheet for international opportunities. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing unless I’m doing it 110%.

So I come home and I write about what I packed for lunch that day because I am too indecisive to write about anything else. Before all my spare time (outside of training and class) was dedicated towards job hunting and preparing for camp. Check and check. Instead of feeling relaxed that there’s less on my plate I’m finding myself scrambling, looking for ways to better myself or create something tangible. I get so frustrated that I don’t come home at night and am super productive but I don’t even know what I would be doing with my productivity. Side note: I complain to my boyfriend that my morning workouts aren’t as long as I want them to and that I wish I was writing more and cooking more in the evenings and he responses by asking me why I feel like I have to be productive from 5:30am-10pm?

Constantly I find myself going over the possibilities: I could train for a marathon which would be a real challenge because I suck at running. I could apply to graduate school if I ever decided on what school is a good fit (I’m pretty set on what program is for me at least) (and figured out how to pay for it). I could book a flight to somewhere half way around the world just to feel like I’m nervous about something again. Nervous about a performance or an outcome that I have 100% control over, like how prepared I am for a competition or how adaptable I can be in a new role.

To quote my own speech to the Athletic Department last February, “I’ve learned that I can do hard things. That I can do seemingly crazy things…Leap, and the net will appear. Just jump and you can figure it out on the way down.”

“I am saying yes, to every opportunity, and trusting that I will be okay”

I am an “all-in” kind of person, but what happens when I want to do everything? When I find myself standing on the edge of whatever opportunity I choose to pursue, and I simply can’t decide what to do because I want to do all. I WANT to say yes to every opportunity- sign up for races and write a book and start a business.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m bored, and I don’t want to “try” things. I want to find a thing, and throw myself into it. I want a goal, or an end point, and I want to struggle and complain and find a way to get there because as it turns out that’s what I love. Working 40 hours a work in an office and 20 hours a week retail has taught me that I thrive on the idea that success is entirely based on my preparation. I need a moment, or an event, where all the work can be displayed. Where all the work is apparent and the success of that venture is a direct result of your hustle and your commitment to the goal.

My entire life I have been in school or training for a competition or applying to jobs. I’m not feeling nervous about anything upcoming, and that is perhaps the most unsettling and unfamiliar feeling I could imagine.

Dreams QuoteEnd rant.

Sinking In

I’ve officially been a college graduate for two weeks now, and the whirlwind that was May is coming to a close. After all the flights, catching up with family, and one quick walk across the stage, it’s starting to sink in. I completed my undergraduate degrees! It’s a cause for celebration. It’s an accomplishment, yes, and an accomplishment I’m proud of- I was never the best student but always hovered around average or slightly above average.

I get that this is a happy time in my life…but does anyone else feel a small loss of identity? I’ve been a student since I was 5 years old. I’ve been pursuing (modest) educational pursuits for as long as I can remember, and now I’m a real person and I’m not quite sure what that means. I had to put “occupation” on a form the day after graduation, and I was completely at a loss.

I’m not a different person than who I was before I walked the stage, but it almost feels like I am. I’m unsure of how to fill my time without homework or studying, which admittedly I would experience every summer, but this is a forever kinda summer in my mind, pending potential graduate schools! I feel like my life is way more up to me. How I want to spend my time, how to fill my hours with things that I find fulfilling or productive. I’m feeling like I need to find a new “thing” now that school is out, like finally taking the leap and signing up for a mud run/obstacle course race or attempting a yoga challenge. I could take a cooking class or try CrossFit or run a marathon (lol) (can you tell I like to work out and eat). I feel like I have to DO something or create something or be something more than what I’ve been. It’s like a post-accomplishment lull, shrugging my shoulders and looking around, asking everyone who walks by “what now?”

This is getting depressing- that was not my intention! It’s more like a positive mindset: what can I tackle next? What is my life going to look like a year from now or three years or ten years from now? As sad as graduating college was, isn’t the prospect of doing anything you really want to exciting?!

Maybe I’m the idealistic graduate who is about to get punched in the face by the “real world” or maybe I’m the pessimist who feels identity loss, or maybe I’m both: the graduate that recognizes that graduating and joining the working world doesn’t make the past five years any less “real” than the world I’m entering now.

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Confessions of My Last College Weekend

Outside of graduation weekend, this was my last weekend as a college student. Point blank, there’s just not that many nights of college left. I feel the pull of the real world and the pull of those wild and crazy college nights…and I just can’t make myself WANT to go out.

I’ve been there- I’ve pulled the all-nighters and the memories that will last a lifetime. The hilarious and insane stories, ones that I hope I will remember for years and years to come (Doubt me? Hah. Iowa has been a Top 3 party-school including No. 1 in the years I’ve lived here). But now? I just can’t do it. I’m not interested in the pre-gaming, the effort of getting ready and getting drunk and going downtown and trying to figure out how I’m getting home later. I’m not judging anyone who goes out either! Like I said, I’ve been gung-ho about it before, but now it just feels like a past-time I’ve grown out of.

And you know what? The FOMO (#FearOfMissingOut) is SO real. It’s like I want to WANT to go out (hope ya’ll followed that) but I’m just not interested. I know I’m missing out on some awesome times. Thirsty Thursday, F.A.C., any rowdy Saturday. I hear the stories and the people my friends run in to, feeling a small pang of regret I wasn’t there. So the next night I force myself to get together, take a a couple shots, and join my friends whatever bar the current spot may be, and spend the whole night yawning and making sure everyone’s having a good time.

I don’t feel like spending $5 a drink, and having to consume a boatload of extra calories just to feel a little tipsy. I’m grumpy if it’s cold out. I hate how I feel the next morning. I’m get annoyed when people fight. I’m not interested in getting hit on by strangers. It’s just not for me anymore.

Have I gotten some crap from my friends? Absolutely. And I know they mean well, they want me to go out and have a good time and join them- and I do too! But I know that they’re hoping I’ll just let go. Get drunk. Be that out-there, extroverted, who-cares-kind-of-attitude girl that I just can’t will myself to be anymore.

My last college weekend, I put on makeup and a maxi skirt and went out for sushi. I joined my friends at the pre-game, drank some water, and then drove them downtown which they really appreciated. And then I went home, mostly happy, with a small part wishing I wanted to join them for whatever they would get up to that night. 

My last college weekend was tame, and it didn’t involve hangovers or any over the top outfit I’ve worn in the past. Do I want to go out to celebrate birthdays, and alumni weekends, and the works? Yes. Do I ever feel the need anymore to go downtown just for the sake of getting drunk and going downtown…? No. I really don’t. I don’t know what shifted or what changed over the past couple years, but my interests in regards to college weekends has defiantly transitioned.

I’ve only said it about 100000 times, but college has been the time of my life (I know I know I’ll stop I’m sorry). And I choose to not go out with a bang. I feel like I’ve had my fun, I’ve had my time. I’m ready to just enjoy a glass of wine or two (or three) as opposed to the bottle. I like how productive I can be Saturday and Sunday mornings. I like saving money, feeling better, feeling less tired. The past few weekends we’ve gone out for Senior Night and banquets and formals I have DRAGGED my butt through the week. I like feeling upbeat on a Monday morning instead of exhausted. I like catching up on sleep and work and prepping for the week ahead (I used to be the type who didn’t get hangover’s- LOL and then you become a college senior and it’s like you got hit by a truck).

I’m more than okay with not being the life of the party. The fear of me missing “the best night EVER” is still very real, and that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I am more than satisfied with my morning cup of coffee, often in bed, scrolling through social media, as opposed to reaching for a bottle of ginger ale and Advil. “So, to summarize, are you confessing to be kind of ‘lame’ your last weekend of college?” Well, err, yeah. I guess. My b.

Again, this post is not to judge or condone partying or drinking. Heck I even said I would want to more! This is just my personal opinion on where I am at in my life right now. 

The First Time I Said…

I’ve been emotional, and reminiscent, and very much on the fence when it comes to my looming college graduation. Several times A hundred times I’ve mentioned how these last five years have been the greatest of my entire life, and that remains true. That will never NOT be true.

College Graduation

With that being said, a sentence I never expected slipped out of my brain and off the tip of my tongue yesterday. The sentiment I never truly felt until now snuck it’s way in there and I stumbled over the words, but out it came:

“I’m actually excited for graduating college.”

WHO KNEW?!? I didn’t. I half expected to be reminiscent and emotional for the rest of my life.

I’m actually looking forward to the end of academic career (for now- no one ever really rules out grad school). Why? What compelled me to believe that I’m actually ready for that whole real world thing?? Well, I’m bored. I’m annoyed with writing papers that require three different types of citations because it’s whatever the professor preferences. I’m bored of notecards, even if the content in interesting. I have my systems of note taking and studying and procrastinating, and nothing is going to change in the last six weeks of school after 17 years of education. I might actually be READY to take on the real world, not just dream about it (whether those dreams were ambitious, romanticized viewpoints or nightmares). I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m starting to feel proud of earning two undergraduate degrees. I can quite literally make a list of the papers and tests I have left! Graduation might be looming, but I’m shying away from it anymore.

I’m excited to get a big girl job. I’m excited to have hobbies (and expand on current ones- like this blog, and cooking!). I’m excited to not have to plan my year around semesters and I’m excited for everything I don’t know yet. I can physically feel my anxiety lessening as the reality sinks in that we actually made it- we’re graduating and getting on with our lives.

And I’m not going to lie, this post was inspired by a strange weekend. My Easter weekend involved a game night with friends, work, studying, and a long walk Easter Sunday to take advantage of the beautiful day. Meanwhile, my three best friends: 1. Got nominated to teach abroad, 2. Got a major scholarship offer to grad school, and 3. Got engaged. Their successes made me unbelievable happy, and proud, and gave me hope that even though these five years have been amazing there is still so much to look forward to. There is still so much to do and so much to see and so many goals to set still.

I said it last night and I’ll say it again: I’m actually looking forward to graduating. I am as ready as I’m going to be for whatever comes next, and I am allowing myself to feel excitement over that.

What was the best, scariest, most unexpected thing that happened to you post grad?

Once A Hawkeye…

Well this is it, the “was” post. I “was” a college athlete. I “used to” compete in the NCAA.

We all knew it was coming, I wasn’t under any false pretenses that by some miracle they would let me stay another year or three. As of March 11, 2015, the journey that started when I took my recruiting trip in November of 2009 officially closed.

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I was assuming this would be a sad post, an emotional one. One that I would cry writing and cry publishing and cry rereading (in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve done a lot of crying this week). But sitting here now 24 hours removed from my “student-athlete” status I don’t feel like my heart is broken. I was prepared for this day and I’m allowed to be emotional, even if it stings more than I thought.

After five years of training and four weeks after breaking my foot, I competed in all three events at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. I didn’t have to change any of my dives to easier options which was a huge accomplishment for me, and while I was no where near my original goal of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships I’m counting the week as a huge success- we had three Hawkeyes qualify for Nationals and I got to finish my collegiate career with the greatest people I have ever met.

There’s a lot I could focus on in regards to the last five years, and I am choosing to focus on what matters. The positives and the goals achieved and every struggle that brought a life lesson- not the marks I missed due to injury or other reasons.

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From the Senior Recognition at the Big Ten Championships. I was probably trying not to cry then too.

This experience simply would not have been possible without the support of my incredible family, and the trust they put in me to move to another country at 19. It would not have been possible without the coach that brought me to Iowa and the belief he had in me to succeed, and the coach that followed him, who believed in me the same. I would not be the same athlete without them, or anywhere close. And more than I could have possibly imagined, I could not have done this without our athletic trainer. After my injury he was the most optimistic person I could turn to while being realistic about my diving (and walking around) capabilities. He dedicated multiple hours everyday since to make sure I could be on the board for my final college meets, and I can never summarize what that meant to me. He never doubted my determination to finish the season, and was right there every time I was ready to push myself. I can never be thankful enough for the people I have surrounded myself with over the past five seasons.

What made my career, more than the goals and the training and the results, were my team. I have been luckier than I ever dreamed to be able to train with them. From everyone on the team in 2010 to everyone on the team now, having doubled in size, I have felt so fortune to have known each and every one. Now training with 13 people, only three girls have been together for the entirety of my career. I got to witness one achieve the ultimate, qualifying for the NCAA’s, and see one rip her last dive of a 14 year career (Oh shoot I made it this far without crying while writing) (to be fair she was crying during the dive, I’m allowed to cry thinking about it). From every triumph to every failure in and out of the pool- from high school boyfriends to grad schools and training camps and apartments, they have been the biggest blessing I have ever received. While we have been struggling to figure out who we are going to now that we are not student-athletes, we have the been the rocks in each others lives. They have been my biggest cheerleaders when I was injured and I was their biggest fans when I was sidelined. We all cried when we succeeded, and we all cried together when two of us finished our Hawkeye careers (seriously, it was comical. The men’s team knew to give us a few moments each day to cry it out before joining the team meeting).

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Day two of competition- minimal tear day

I have absolutely no idea what my life is going to look like in a year, but I know who is going to be there for me. I don’t know exactly what job I’m going to have and what my life will look like, even though I generally know I’ll be working and training (this isn’t a retirement post thank goodness!). This will be the first time I’m not registering for class, and I don’t have to worry anymore about blowing my amateur status. I’m looking at things like health insurance and work visa paperwork and graduation transcripts and gahhhh. Real life sneaks up on you when you’re trying to enjoy every last second of your college career.

Oh gosh, well this turned into a rant. To summarize, I am excited, and scared, and heart broken and proud and so so thankful this is how I choose to continue to my diving career. I will bleed Black and Gold for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter where I am in a year, or ten years, I will always be a Hawkeye.

From the first big meet,

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to the last.

The extent to which I could point my broken foot with that much tape was a bonus in itself!

I promise less emotional train wreck posts in the future while I navigate the ever-looming college graduation, spring break in Denver, and where ever this road may take me! Go Hawks!