"Finally! I finally finished! I can't believe I did it!! I can't believe I graduated...But, now what do I do?" These were my thoughts when I finally finished my undergrad. I've been dreaming of going back to school for so long and now that I finished, I had no idea what my next step or what my next goal was going to be.
My journey is what some may call as non-traditional. I didnt go straight into a 4 year university after high school, instead, i went to community college and worked part time. After a while, I decided to take a break from school to work full time and eventually the idea of returning to my studies was put on the back burner.
After a couple of years, I finally decided that enough was enough, and sent in my university application. Now, not everything was rainbows and lollipops. I experienced a lot of imposter syndrome throughout my undergrad! I had a lot of self doubt, I started to question my capabilities, and unfortunately, I started to compare myself to other students. I felt that as an older student, I struggled to keep up with all of the younger, straight out of high school students. There were days where I felt that all my passed knowledge and qualifications were not good enough.
These exact feelings of self doubt returned when I applied for the Oceans Research internship. As I was filling out the application, I kept thinking, "it would be amazing to be chosen, but I know there's better qualified individuals out there who deserve this opportunity more than me!"
Just before the interview, I remember feeling excited, nervous, and anxious. I couldn't believe I was going to talk to the founding members of MISS. I remember getting all gitty to talk to them about my experience and about myself. But, once again, those feelings of not being good enough kept echoing in my head. After the interview, I remember feeling relieved but at the same time, i kept thinking I could have done better, or that my answers weren't good enough.
I actully felt that I bombed the interview (again, good ole imposter syndrome doing its thing). So, imagine my surprise and shock when I recieved the congratulations email of getting chosen to participate in this amazing opportunity. I don't think words can even describe how I felt at that moment. I remember I kept re-reading the email every morning, going over it multiple times. I just couldn't believe I was chosen! I couldn't believe that I going to be working with professionals already in the field of marine biology.
So by this point, im sure we have figured out my pattern of having an amazing opportunity presented to me, followed by our good friend imposter syndrome. So, without further ado, cue yet another imposter syndrome moment. Thats right folks, once again those feelings of self doubt and incompetence were front row and centre.
I was very nervous and yes, I was very worried that I wouldn't have the capacity required to perform well in the field. In the beginning, I felt as if they were going to see right through me and for some reason come to the conclusion that I didn't belong.
Nonetheless, as the days passed and as I acquired new skills, I slowly but surely started to overcome that fear of not being enough. I started to get confidence in myself and in my abilities. With every question answered and with every mistake I made, a valuable lesson was learned. Everyday we were challeneged with a task, and everyday I saw myself grow more and more confident.
These new skills and adventures further cemented the passion that I have for marine biology. This experience has reinforced that this is indeed the path that I want to continue on and that not even my self doubt will impede me from accomplishing my goals.
MISS provides a community and funded opportunities for gender minorities of color who wish to enter the field of shark sciences. We aim to show that there are many gender minorities of color succeeding in and interested in this field.
We fundraise and apply for grants to create paid opportunities to attempt to knock down the financial barrier into shark sciences. We encourage other organizations in our field to do the same.
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