I was recently interviewed for the unbiased podcast with Karen Barrett and we had really interesting conversations, which you can listen to here. I was asked a question I am asked a lot:
How do I deal with challenges… as a women in STEM, a young, black women in politics.
- There is the short form of this answer, that I gave on podcast:
This is about accepting challenges are part of life and reframing challenges as opportunities. This allows you to transform pain and hard lessons and use them to accelerate for your growth and development.
2. There is the long-form of this answer, that I didn’t give on the podcast:
It’s based on one of my favorite non-fiction book ‘Malcolm Gladwell – David and Goliath’. The book was gifted to me by my best friend for my 19th birthday. This quote from the book resonated with me a lot:
“We are not equal in intellect, strength, material resources etc but they are many path to the success you want. you simple need to see it, but first you need to stop trying to win as something you are not and see the benefits of what you are and what you have and utilize them well and optimize and develop them“
At that time, I have yet to have diagnosis for my neurodiversities but I had been managing them my whole life. I used a lots of coping mechanism. For example, I would learn the syllabus for the year during summer before the school year started and then use classes as revision or I would naughtily re-read my favorite works of fiction by Tamora pierce, Louise May Alcott or Laud Maud Montgomery. This allowed me to find my love of reading, delve further to the magical world of fiction insulating myself against a reality of being bullied at school till I could grow more resilience and adapt further. The challenges in fact provided the stimulus to growth and becoming this version of myself.
We also spoke about fear…
In conversation with Karen, we talk about fear. Fear is an interesting emotion. I don’t think we will ever have an absence of fear and maybe we shouldn’t. However, I do think that you notice it less with continuous action. Action like taking ownership and being prepared. Once you have clarity on who you are, your goals, you can break these down into actionable steps and even further, into habits and routines automating your process and therefore progress. These actions help you manage risk to most practicable level. If you are doing what you can with the elements you can control (yourself and your actions) then why fear what isn’t in your control. This is actually a stoic idea – you imagine what could go wrong, do what you can with what you can control and then there is no need to dwell on it further. If all things are energy and you only have so much energy, then why waste any of it!
Now, its good to periodically check that your goal are still what you desire and the action are still relevant. After that, just go with the flow.
We also spoke about what to do in the face of adversity…
I recounter the story on when a member of the public spat in my face and how I dealt with.
Now, the experience was not very pleasant but how I dealt with it was important and the lessons I learnt through processing this experience is worth sharing in further detail.
First, I noted that other people’s bad behaviors is rarely about me. So I didn’t make it about me and define myself by this experience. I was aware that humans are constantly transferring their pain and fears to each other. And in this moment, I could stop the chain reaction by being intentional in my response.
Now its important to note, I don’t condone bad behavior and believe boundaries are necessary. So, if you have a similar experience please report it and don’t accept this. There is a balance to be struck between empathy and self respect. This is important to prevent resentment and the rise of apathy and nihilism which often occur when we dismiss our boundaries for too long.
Finally, how we cope is based on our values. For me, I decided long ago that I would always take actions that aligned with my values, freedom and truth as I defined those words for myself. Freedom being the ability to live authentically and being disciplined in taking actions that reflects who I am. Truth meaning to me, the ability and motivation to seek knowledge and see the whole picture and not a half truths due to a limited perspective. Therefore, the ability to keep learning, challenging beliefs and relearning. The benefits of this, is that I can remain unattached to any ideology and definition of self and keep writing a story that I chose and exposing myself to a wealth of human experiences. Mental health, like physical health isn’t made in one decision but in all your decision – a choice to eat well, is just as important as a choice to think well. The stories we think can empower or weaken (victor vs victim). It is important to validate your experience but its equally important to see the whole truth by widening or changing perceptive.
All people see the world in different ways based on their experience and how they perceive it and tell their life story. A negative perspective will draw your focus to the negative and you will not experience the whole truth and only the parts that consolidate your belief (known as confirmation bias). So, why not write a different story. Stories like when I am faced with challenges I overcome them, failure may happens but it doesn’t define me. These different stories equal different result. Making this shift may be hard but a coach and mentor can help you with this and accelerate your development and growth. Over time you will see yourself doing things you once struggled without a 2nd thought. And that’s something to celebrate.
Now don’t forget, everyone started somewhere and you don’t see their day one, year one or their daily struggles. Therefore, focus on your journey and what you are doing and being!
I hoped you enjoyed my thoughts reflecting on the fantastic conversation with Karen from the unbiased podcast.