An Intellectual Problem I'm Having….

2 years, 8 months ago

I’m wondering if my fellow HEthens can help me with this. I’ve started working in a university lab that is in a knowledge area where my background does not lie. The lab is large, with plenty of PhD level students, where I am a mere mortal undergraduate. The professor/supervisor of the lab occasionally assigns me with the duty of presenting on current research findings in a specific subtopic in this field, of which I should mention again, I’m far from an expert in. The result, is that I stand up there, with tough questions being thrown my way about the research, looking like I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Talk about an ego bruising, I’m someone who’s considered smart, and consider myself smart, so to go through that is hurting my confidence a little bit.

Now the question will be ‘why did you get a job in a lab area you’re not well versed in?’ Well I didn’t have many options in this regard, and undergraduates don’t really get ‘jobs’ at this level working in lab, so I jumped at this opportunity and still think its the driving force of my career’s future. But I’m clearly struggling with the knowledge gap, and I don’t want this pattern to continue and cause me to lose my confidence in my ability. The professor took me on cause he clearly saw something in me, but it looks like I’ll have to shore up my background if I want to remain a competent member of this lab. I just want to know how to not lose my confidence, and get frustrated while doing so, because it puts a whole ‘nother load on me. My appeal to you is of psychological basis; how I do reframe this?

July 25, 2012 at 8:32 am

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Profile photo of Dan Dan (@danfontaine) 2 years, 8 months ago ago

Respect yourself. You metaphorically labeled yourself a mere mortal and may have been being satirical but there could be a great deal of truth there in how you’re viewing yourself.
Look at this scene from the perspective of you, 15 years from now. No one person or group of persons should be significant enough to weigh on your heart you might find.
Don’t be apprehensive my friend. You might only be choking because you’re holding your own throat.
When I read this topic title I was like , lol intellectual problem. See, problems of the mind don’t exist. Thinking makes them so. Be yourself dude. Scientific minded people have a tendency to think think think. It boxes you in not only rationally, but personally.
Einstein was at a lower wavelength all the time, approaching science creatively. He only really used hard thinking when it was prompted for i.e. working out an equation. He was a next level fuck. Just some food for thought I’m spilling.

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Profile photo of Frontier Psychiatrist Frontier Psychiatrist (@pseudojudo) 2 years, 8 months ago ago

@danfontaine, I like the part about thinking about it 15 years from now, when it won’t matter. I accept that. But the fact of the matter is, I’m trying to be present-minded. I’ve been thinking about why I’m going through this experience, and it will only matter if I do something about it. If I don’t change anything, it will happen again, or worse, nothing will happen for me, I’ll get stuck on a mediocre level of intellect, afraid to confront challenges.

The truth is, I don’t know how many people, especially as young as I, get to experience something like this. Having unique experiences is valuable, and so I need to explore every aspect of it and use whatever I can form it to help me grow. Who knows, maybe I’ll be teaching a university lecture class one day and talk about how I used to be an apprehensive undergrad who couldn’t have competent discourse on matters such as these. I’ll be the one inspiring, where no one really inspired me from exactly the same situation.

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Profile photo of Sasho Stoyanov Anonymous (@) 2 years, 8 months ago ago

@pseudojudo, there’s something I like to “teach” or at least share to people whether they understand it or not, it’s about the way of approach. You can’t have confidence without competence. Confidence builds up with practice. I guess it’s normal to be feeling less confident, but still being too hard on yourself without really having much practice in a specific field is an obstacle. Ask yourself if you are a perfectionist. You might be worried for nothing and your perfectionism to be getting in the way to be fulfilled with your work.

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Profile photo of Frontier Psychiatrist Frontier Psychiatrist (@pseudojudo) 2 years, 8 months ago ago

@beyond, I don’t think I’m a perfectionist, but I would like to be able to execute a presentation without very many difficulties. And there shouldn’t be, or wouldn’t be, if I was communicating well enough. I expect tough questions to be pointed my way, but I want to be able to give a coherent response and not just stand there cluelessly mangling out a response. Perhaps my critical mind isn’t sharp enough to do so yet, and I’ve overestimated what caliber of an academic I should be at this point. I suppose my confidence then is really dependent on what I expect from myself.

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