I’m so happy to be back!!! I have been silent for a few months because, as many of you, I was immersed in applying for a certain scholarship we know too well of. If you’ve been following my previous posts you might be aware that, unlike most of my fellow teammates, I have been unsuccessful on my first attempt in applying for the Chevening Scholarship, but, stubborn as I am, I wasn’t going to give up on THE dream that easily… 😉
The past months have been nothing but a rollercoaster. And the last weeks have been a total headache (physically and figuratively). The anxiety and pressure of feeling I had to get it right this time felt overwhelming at times. Not to mention the fact that my country’s number of scholarships decreased dramatically this year and show no sign of significantly increasing for next (one can only hope, but the current situation makes this unlikely).
Now, If you know me (and I hope my previous posts have reflected this), I’m a generally positive to the point of exaggeration. Actually, one of my friends re-baptized me Sid (after the character in The Ice Age) for this reason. (Did I just make that public?)
But negative emotions, as in life, are a part of the journey we are all on…whether it’s applying for scholarships or universities, working on that never-ending paper or handing down a task at work, at some point or another it is likely we will feel stuck, with our self-esteem threatened, stressed out or with anxiety. It is natural. Human. If you have never felt it please give me the recipe.
Finally, I managed to submit an application with essays I am proud of and am excited for what happens next. I hope that if you have recently gone through an application process, you feel the same way. Along the journey, I learnt more from myself, introspected and collected advice for the next time I am overwhelmed. Though everyone manages emotions differently, I am sharing it with you some of the lessons in the hope that you can find them useful in your journey.
- Never underestimate the value of good friends.
Friendship is good for the soul, never be so “busy” that you can’t have some quality time (whether it is physical or virtual) with your peeps. A good friend will help you unplug, offer perspective and see the best in yourself when you are in the brink of forgetting it. I was very lucky to have a close friend (and alumni) whom I trusted support me through the application process, giving me the feedback I needed and helping me gain confidence when I needed an extra dose; and, was revitalized each time I hung out with friends after a long day, even if it was for just an hour.
- Choose your “mentors” wisely.
This might go hand in hand with point one (though it’s not necessarily the same thing). Having a person proofread your work and offer feedback (whether it’s for an assignment, application or whatever) can be great, but be sure you chose someone who’s opinion you trust and who will give you the feedback you need in the way you need it. Finding the right person is much more important than having 10 inadequate feedbacks that might confuse you or knock your self-esteem to the ground. I’ve seen many people ask for feedback in large social media groups full of strangers. I cannot discourage this enough.
- Don’t let negative emotions absorb you
The pressure and competition might make you overemphasize your “weak points”. Resist the temptation by thinking about all the things that make you feel proud about yourself and that make you unique. There might be others more “qualified”, but you have something no one else has. Connect with that and win the world over with it.
I’m not advocating procrastination. OK, maybe. But disconnecting every once in a while is a matter of mental health. Especially if you’ve been the whole day working on something or you feel blocked and need to get those neurons moving in whatever direction suits you. Read a few pages of a book, an article, watch a short video, drink coffee or choose whatever sort of entertainment is good for your soul and doesn’t distract you too much.
- If you are stuck on a task, move to the next one.
I spent almost a whole day in order to write a couple of paragraphs of an essay that was supposed to be “the easiest” (not my proudest moment). Something in me was resisting. When I had had enough, I moved to the next essay and found the ideas flowing and the structure I needed come naturally. After finishing it (and with a more positive mindset) I was with the right energy to tackle the one I had been stuck on. I have recently found this applies to most cases in which tasks pile up and there is that one I just can’t get around.
- We give others the advice we need.
As I write this, I realize there are many moments when I will need this advice or forget to follow it (as the saying goes, “human beings are the only animal that stumbles with the same stone twice”). Also, talking to people who were in my same situation and being that supportive friend made the advice I was needing come out of my mouth, and ta-da, I was forced to follow it.
BONUS. I tried to make these lessons as universal as possible, but now I’m going to give an extra tip for those that just submitted their scholarship application: enjoy where you are now. You might be expectant for what happens next, but whatever the outcome, keep fighting, enjoying life, trying to make your country a better place and making yourself proud. You are exactly where you need to be.
Rooting for you,
Have you experienced negative emotions on your scholar’s journey? How do you deal with them? Please share!
*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), its partner organizations or any scholarship awarding institution.