I don’t know how about you, but every now and then I can get quite disappointed in myself. Sometimes it’s small things, sometimes it’ll be a bigger thing. For example, recently I had to ask for an extension for a deadline, for submission of my first scientific article. It happens, right? Sometimes things take longer than expected, and it’s best to communicate that and ask for more time. But see, personally I think time management isn’t my strongest asset. Historically I’ve been really bad at that: just ask my mother or one of my friends about my preparations for exams during my student days. Many a night I was studying until 4:00 in the morning, for an exam that would start 6 hours later.
However, given the fact that I’m in the final stages of my PhD, I think it’s safe to conclude I’ve improved my time management skills. I can plan my work, decide on priorities, and commit to working towards meeting my goals. Nobody’s keeping me accountable, because it’s my project, so I’m the person ultimately responsible. And yet, sometimes that feeling of disappointment creeps in again. For example, when I have to ask for an extension. I feel like I didn’t plan my time well, and that it’s all my fault that I didn’t succeed to meet this deadline.
“I was thinking about love. I was thinking about how difficult it is for us to find and to maintain the love that we all yearn for. And it dawned on me that I think a big part of the problem is that we misdefine love. I think the real paradigm for love is: gardener, flower. The gardener wants the flower to be what the flower is designed to be, not what the gardener wants the flower to be. You want the flower to bloom and to blossom and to become what God designed it to be. You’re not demanding that it become what you need it to be, for your ego. Anything other than all of your gifts, wide-open, giving, nourishing this flower into their greatness, is not love.”
The above quote described Will Smiths perspective on love. A friend forwarded me the video, which I watched multiple times in order to transcribe it. But how often don’t I find myself attempting to change the people around me and try to persuade them to do things the way I think they should be done? But… is that fair to the people around me? Isn’t it my job to ultimately be the best partner, friend and family member I can be and allow the people around me to blossom into the beautiful flowers they’re designed to be?
Grateful to be vulnerable. That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Vulnerability is not something that we often celebrate. And I think that’s a shame. Why do we sometimes experience a mental block? Do we realise that when we let fear guide us, we’re keeping ourselves away from luck?
Bréne Brown has been a massive inspiration for me in this regard, partly because she’s – like me – a scientist. She specialised in research into human shame. She writes in the book ’The gifts of imperfection’: “Joy and gratitude can be very vulnerable and intense experiences. We are an anxious people and many of us have very little tolerance for vulnerability. Our anxiety and fear can manifest as scarcity. We think to ourselves:
I’m not going to allow myself to feel this joy because I know it won’t last.
Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster.
I’d rather not be joyful than have to wait for the other shoe to drop.”
Last week was the anniversary of my dads death. He passed away at the age of 55, when I was 14 years old. A few years ago I started processing my delayed grief, which is commonly caused by the inability to process the loss of a parent at a young age. During my grieving process I worked towards the day that I would be alive without my dad longer than I’ve lived with him. That day was 10 February 2018, and as an end point of the grieving process I spent a weekend in Ireland to commemorate that day.
I’ve travelled quite a bit, and I’m hardly really nervous or anxious. How incredibly different was it while I was preparing for this trip. I was procrastinating on, nay, more resisting, packing my bag. I was utterly and completely afraid of what The Day would be like. So I was trying to find ways in which I could avoid The Day. I wasn’t looking for ways to simply avoid the trip. I hoped that by postponing packing my bag, I could actually prevent The Day from coming.
My lovely housemates spoilt me on my last birthday. They organised a little treasure hunt through our house, having me scout for my presents one after another. Little clue here, little clue there, funky cool presents found.
One of their presents was a little box with delicious Lush bath oil melts. It came in a fun(ky) little black egg box, four beautiful pieces. One of my housemates recommended me to try the black one first. At the same time as releasing its sweet scents, the bath oil turned the hot bath water into a murky, turbid liquid. Little did I know the little melt was called ‘Demons’, to take ‘a dip on the dark side’.
While I was visiting Glasgow a while back, I walked through Kelvingrove Park on my way to Glasgow Vineyard Church. Because of a silly mistake I was rushing to get there in time. Sometimes, though, while I walk, I feel like there’s something I need to pay attention to. Something that’s more important than the meeting or thing that’s preoccupying my mind.
That’s when I noticed a fir tree. It looked incredibly beautiful and green, with some sort of green berries at the tips of it’s leaves. So full and lush, at first sight. It drew me closer. But then, as I got closer, I noticed that it was only the outside that was green. The inside was leaflessy brown. No sunlight could penetrate the thick layer of leafs shielding its inside.