This week I’m writing to you from a research study school I’m attending at the University of Johannesburg.
As I look around me, there are some really smart people in the room. They have done some amazing things. They have lots of experience. One person was on television just the previous evening as an expert panelist. I listen to one presentation after the other. What will be required of us in the coming years, the high level of research required and the strong focus on excellence. It feels overwhelming.
As I’m listening, two old ugly monsters are making their appearance. The first one I recognise by how all of a sudden my mouth is dry and my heart is beating faster. My palms feel a little moist. It’s fear – the same one from my childhood. What have I done….I feel panicky. Reality is setting in and that is when the other monster arrives – DOUBT. Can I really do this? Everybody else around me seems to be so smart and confident. Who am I to want to take on a PhD? I’m just a mom/wife/business owner/…..fill in the blanks.
As I look around at the other students and look back at my own notes, I feel a strong urge to get up and leave. By now I am convinced that I am in the wrong place, that I’ve made a mistake, that they’ve made a mistake including me in the program.
“No, don’t leave. You need to be here. You’ve all been selected very carefully to be here.”, says the facilitator.
I decide to stay a little longer, hoping that by lunch time I would have regained some measure of composure. Towards the end of the session, one of my fellow students, a lady in her late forties, turns to me. Her eyes are as big as saucers. She leans over to me and whispers: “Are you also feeling so terrified or is it just me?” At that moment I realise that I’m not alone and we start chatting away, deciding that the only way to get through this is to work together and support each other.
At the end of the day, after listening to all the presentations, the people at our table linger just a little longer. Everyone is somewhat doubtful, somewhat terrified of what is lying ahead in the months to come and concerned about whether we will finish proposals on time.
I’m sure this will be one hell of a ride ( our professors keep on reminding us) and I look forward to the future. I look forward to trying new things, to stretch my own thinking and be stretched by others. To take my work to a whole new level and be able to share all this new learning with my coaching clients in a meaningful way that would enrich their lives.
I encourage you to look at the things you fear. To sit with the fear and to wait it out, to not leave “the room”. To stay a little longer and meet incredible people on your journey. Allow yourself the gift of being stretched and moulded into a more fulfilling version of yourself.
wishing you many blessings