Late last year I was invited to Freeport, ME for the fall 2013 class Coastal Studies for Girls’ students. I really can’t express how inspirational it was to me. It made me wonder how far along I would be if I was as mentally strong at that age as they are now due to the CSG program.
This year I’ve been invited to give a talk to the spring 2014 girls about my progression through the field of marine biology over the years. It’s tomorrow, aaaaahh!
My goal is to make it fun and show them some cool stuff, but at the same time show them how important the life lessons are that they’re learning at CSG. The girls are learning poetry, leadership skills, teamwork skills, the importance of silence and reflection, and incorporating creativity into their work. This is all in addition to learning marine science.
As I work through my presentation and look back at all my photos, it’s amazing to see for myself how I’ve changed over the years. I went to 3 undergraduate institutions in order to get the degree I wanted in a reasonable amount of time. I decided to go from general biology to marine biology after SCUBA diving in Cozumel. I went from being interested in genetics to falling in love with ecology. I had to evacuate due to a hurricane and live in a FEMA hotel to finish out school. I went from studying sea slugs to becoming increasingly interested in bryozoans. I’ve discovered animals that shouldn’t be where they are.
And, just as the CSG girls are learning, I too am learning that it is so, so incredibly important to be confident in yourself and to surround yourself with people who will support you. And if you can’t avoid working around people who don’t support or respect you, definitely don’t let them bring you down; use them as a reminder that there are others who do support and respect you. At the same time, take a moment every day to reflect upon yourself. Sounds cheesy, but it’s equally important to understand your strengths and weaknesses and know what you need to work on. An added advantage is that you can truthfully answer that pesky “what is your biggest weakness?” interview question!
Over the past few years I’ve been trying to work on things that I know I’m weak at. Some I’ve gotten better with, some I haven’t. I’ve also realized there are a lot of people who don’t look into who they really are and that oftentimes they’re the people who can’t look past their own opinions and say to themselves “I wonder why they think that” and “Why do I think the way I do?” and “What if what I believe is wrong?”. These are the people that are impossible to argue with. I’ve met a lot of them…and you’ll meet a lot of them too, but don’t let that stop you from being awesome. Because you ARE awesome.
Ah, such is life. And that is what I hope to convey to the CSG girls tomorrow.