3 lessons I learned from feeling out of control

In 2021, I felt like I was constantly in limbo. I started the year with so many goals on my plate and even though I did achieve a lot of them, almost nothing went the way that I wanted it to. Sometimes surprises can be good, but when you’re hit with one unexpected event after another… it can be a lot. For me, it meant losing sleep, losing my appetite, and feeling like I’d never be happy.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and looking back, I know a lot of my frustration was a result of feeling like nothing was under my control. And though a lot of things were out of my control, by the end of the year I realized that the one thing I can control is my reactions to difficult circumstances. To quote Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “it’s our choices that show us who we truly are”. With this in mind, here are 3 important lessons that I learned from feeling out of control.

1. For everyone who overthinks.

Sometimes you can’t see a way through difficult situations, and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you don’t even know where the tunnel ends. So focus on just the step in front of you.

If the only way out is through, you have to take the next step to make it out!

2. On making progress

Someone in my Master’s program used to love saying that making progress is like watching planes fly. If you’re watching from the ground or even as a passenger inside the plane, it feels like everything is moving SO slowly, when in reality the plane is flying at 100s of miles an hour. I think she just meant that even if it feels like you’re going slow and it might look like that to other people, you’re probably moving faster than you think.

3. A lesson I’ve kept learning

Take nothing personally.

The person who said it was talking about getting critical feedback on research… but it feels true in other contexts as well. Not everyone is going to see the same kind of value you see in yourself, in the things you care about or in your work, but that’s a reflection of them and not of you.

Easier said than done, but don’t lose sight of your own thoughts and feelings by taking discouraging words, rejections and reactions personally.

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PhD Student in Cognitive Development at Boston University. I write about children’s science learning, public understanding of science, writing tips and more.

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Aarti Bodas

Aarti Bodas

PhD Student in Cognitive Development at Boston University. I write about children’s science learning, public understanding of science, writing tips and more.

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