Life of a Research Junkie
In the midst of writing my dissertation, I realized that working in seclusion was not producing unbiased, well-put writing. Challenging myself to get outside of my bubble and open my world up into conversations I am fortunately able to have with my colleagues, I found, paid homage to a multitude of research-based references.
The Power of Networking
Networking and collaboration are not just myths. They are very real, and very necessary. Put your ego aside. In enveloping yourself into any work, whether for passion or career, you can always learn something when conversing with others about your work. I slowly am learning, as my private tendencies trickle into every crevice of my life. However, whenever I am able to open up about my recent research topic, I always find at least one person who can contribute something to it.
Researching and adding some newfound understanding to any field can be a lonely journey. Odds are, you are passionate about the work you are doing and are dedicated to uncovering any piece of information at any length of time and energy. To find anyone with that kind of focus, stamina, and specific area of passion can be hard, but not impossible. I have recently made this realization, which has been the prompt that has helped me talk more openly about my passions and areas of research. Take a chance and humiliate yourself in the things that make you happy. You never know who else might share those same happinesses as well, or who may be able to help make your dreams come true. Two heads are better than one! (Just make sure you have them sign a non-disclosure agreement).
When Opportunities Present Themselves
With making relationships and connections comes more opportunities. Some have said I have an issue with saying "yes" to everything asked of me. I have heard this is an "issue" with A LOT of people. This has gotten me thinking about what opportunities should be embraced and others that I should let pass me by. Earlier this last school year, I posed this question to my 8th grade students after reading a story regarding themes of opportunities and regret. How can we really know if we missed an opportunity, or just overloaded ourselves? My students and I struggled with this and inevitably argued every possible answer. It was impossible to know! We ended with a philosophical conversation that turned into a somewhat existential crisis regarding regret and the briefness of life. It was enlightening.
So, how can a person of passion and determination know when to embrace opportunities and when to let them pass by? Sometimes making a pros and cons list helps. Sometimes reflecting on the end results can help. However, with any choice you make, you need to simply be at peace with it. There is no "what-ifs" in this scenario. Why? Because we cannot manipulate time or see into the future. I have had to learn to accept my decision and continue to forge on.