I don’t know about you, but I absolutely adore a clean slate. Happy New Year from the Bradshaws! It’s great to “see” you in 2018.
What a year this is already shaping up to be…My planner (pictured below) has been picked out and ready to go for about two months now. I was drawn to this particular one as it represents my motto for this year ahead of us: “Have courage and stay kind.”
And, that is exactly what I plan to do throughout the stress and chaos of many activities already scheduled months and weeks in advance. In the midst of busy days this is a simple, physical reminder to display peace and joy to those around me (in particular my sweet husband, who often bears the brunt of my stress, as we are prone to do with those who love us unconditionally.)
While I love new technology and its many conveniences (aka my iPhone calendar), a phone buzzing with notifications sometimes leads to more stress and does not allow one to disconnect and simply be. Therefore, in addition to a phone full of notes and reminders, I stick to paper planners to track all the big things, year after year, even in 2018 . Just call me old-fashioned.
I am writing today after my first successful week of the second semester of my Ph.D. program, and in the interest of keeping it real here, I am feeling real, real stressed.
I have a conference deadline looming (yay for the blessing of gaining my first conference acceptance, and at a SKI RESORT NO LESS!), new coursework to manage, and some other projects in the works, and I am meticulously planning each day in an attempt to balance it all. Some days are more productive than others, but 5 days into the new school year, and I am already rocking and rolling.
These two are definitely keeping me grounded. (Please ignore our messy house…just a casualty of being a grad student, I think..But I would rather sacrifice perfection for [rare] time with my family.)
Bear weighs 25 pounds now according to his latest check up at the vet, and he can already see eye level with our love seat. Insert puppy mommy, “my baby is growing up” sad/whiny voice. Also, still in shock that he is going to be MUCH bigger than originally bargained for. But, that’s OK- all the more fluff to love! 🙂 He has started a 5-week puppy kindergarten class, and we are working on clicker training for basic commands such as sit, come, etc.
The photo of Luke was taken on our off day together after one of Bear’s classes. We had just gotten home. Luke was heating up the grill to throw some burgers on for dinner, Bear curled up at our feet, exhausted after class, and we just jammed out to oldies music and enjoyed beers together for half an hour. It was so much fun and stress free! Any time spent with my boys is definitely the highlight of my week, and I had to capture the moment to remember on a day when I am feeling stressed to the max. Like today.
I didn’t sleep much this week due to first week nerves and getting back into a somewhat “normal” sleep schedule after a long break, which probably isn’t helping matters, and I feel the beginnings of a cold coming on. But, after attending each of my 3 classes this week, I am both SO EXCITED by the syllabi and everything I am going to learn (#totalnerdalert) and also
slightly pretty overwhelmed at the semester to come.
I decided to write a blog update because honestly this destresses me (crazy, right?!), and someone recently told me that my words sometimes help to encourage them on days when they are feeling a bit down. I am not sure who all reads this blog, but if you are feeling stressed at the moment, I hope this post helps you know that you are not alone. The rosy social media photos people post only tell one side of the story as all of us experience stress, worry, and various obstacles from time to time.
I also wanted to write a little bit about rejection, because I think this is something we, as humans, can all relate to. That sharp sting of not making a cut for something or not feeling good or worthy enough. Rejection is as universal as it is painful. Whether it is in the dating world and a potential romantic partner decides you just aren’t The One, or in the industry when you present your lightbulb moment in a meeting and get a less-than-positive response from your boss or team or when you yearn desperately for a friendship, and that person just doesn’t like you…it all feels kinda similar. A Spectrum of Rejection that goes from bad to worse….
Today, rejection smacked me right in the face with a no-go professional conference submission.
So what is the blessing of rejection, and what lessons can we learn from it?
At least that is how I try to approach it when I am having a hard time processing something or when I feel rejected…OK, what can I learn from this experience? Why am I being rejected? What (if anything) can I do better next time? Is it me or is it them? (Fair perspective because while I can change me, you cannot force someone to like you, for example.)
Even though I kinda sorta knew in my gut I wasn’t making it with this particular paper at this particular conference, the “We thank you, please try again next time” email still stung.
Even after I read that 50% of people who submitted didn’t get it either…That’s a lot of people out there presumably with high quality scholarship feeling the same exact way I did today. But yet that other 50% did get in, and I wanted badly to be part of that group.
To this day, I clearly recall feeling the exact same way as a grade school student in a student government election (aka basically a popularity contest at that age. LOL). I remember the butterflies in my stomach when they called out the winners’ names in the gym (because that’s always the best way to lose something as a child, in person, in front of a roomful of all your peers). I shut my eyes tightly, crossed my fingers for luck, and prayed to hear my name. Instead, my opponent beat me fair and square.
As a 20-something, I have been both accepted and rejected countless times in my life. And, remarkably, each and every time worked out for my good, exactly as it was meant to.
I have been elected for leadership positions for various organizations since that long ago grade school loss…I have won awards, made the grade, been deemed worthy. However, I have also been rejected.
And though it hurt at the time, I have gotten to do some pretty cool things because of those rejections. One that sticks out is the opportunity to serve as the editor of an international travel magazine for my collegiate Capstone project, an opportunity I never would have had if I had not been rejected from something else first. But, even knowing this, those emails or letters beginning with “We regret to inform you” can cause you to question yourself, your value, your contributions at times. You wait on pins and needles to hear the news and then….ouch.
A kind friend sent this Bible verse my way this week, and man, how it has resonated, time and time again in multiple situations.
9 “A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 New King James Version (NKJV)
Whenever something doesn’t work out how you had hoped, I believe we have two choices.
We can get mad and sulk…or worse, convince ourselves we really aren’t good enough and simply throw in the towel.
We can pick up the pieces, dust ourselves off, and try, try, try again.
A motto of my mom’s when I was growing up was always, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” It used to really irk me when she would say that because it was usually when I was considering quitting something or other. However, she taught me from a young age to always honor my commitments and to persevere to see things through.
Perseverance has served me well in life. I had a former boss tell me the main reason he hired me for a particular job was due to this attribute. That meant a lot to me, but really, I owe this characteristic of mine to the way I was raised and how the Bible teaches us to respond to adversity.
We are to be strong, firm, steadfast.
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, a whenever you face trials of many kinds,. 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
One thing I know for certain is that life is going to throw challenges out there. For me, this is the first of many rejections in my academic career. However, how many more successes will there also be? OK, so one peer review board of 3 people didn’t like my paper for this particular forum. So what? How many others might love it if given the chance? No one ever said it was going to be easy. But trying again is always worth it.
Another thing I have learned through previous rejections in my life is to not find my value and worth in other people’s opinions.
My ultimate value and worth comes from Jesus Christ alone.
Not from the acceptance of others, not in promotions, or bonuses, or financial gain….sure, all of those things are great. But, I do not place my value on my accomplishments (or lack thereof). This mindset has helped me to accept rejection as a given, as something that happens from time to time. It still may sting, but there is a peace in knowing that this or that is not the be all, end all, of Amanda Bradshaw’s value.
Thus, in 2018, I plan to have courage by putting myself out there again and again, taking chances. Big gains often come only after big risk.
Constructive criticism used to be (OK, it still is sometimes) hard to take; as a writer, one does not like to see one’s hard work torn to shreds at any level. But, as I first learned in journalism, and now in this Ph.D. program, it’s part of the ballgame. I have come to expect to plan longer to complete assignments, to have them edited, re-edited, and critiqued from every angle imaginable. And even still, some will be rejected. It’s just part of it–the part that is going to ultimately make me even better in the long run. Rejection is part of the learning process and often makes acceptance taste just that much sweeter.
We all have our own struggles, challenges, and rejections in this life, but in my opinion, attitude makes all the difference. When negative thoughts began entering my head today, doubtful thoughts, I banished them, one by one, reaffirming the good things that I have and will achieve and refocused positively on the fabulous semester ahead…starting with hello, my very first ski trip ever and a [different] conference acceptance!! What does one even pack to hit the slopes? This Southern girl has only been around snow a few times in my life, so any recommendations are welcome. 🙂
Have courage and be kind.
2018 is going to be AMAZING.
Until next time in God’s love,