Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Being a badass

When I look in the mirror, I'm proud of who I have become. I know I've
come a long way from the child who was afraid to make a mistake, the
high schooler who was intimidated by her classmates, and the undergrad
who couldn't hold an audience. I'm confident in my ability to
synthesize literature, write, and give presentations. I'm generally
pretty confident about my path in life and career trajectory, but
there are some things I'd like to change about myself with respect to
my work.

I wish I were more of a badass.

During my weekly freakout about what in the world I'm doing here, I
admitted to Jon that I'm really not as much of a badass as I'd like to
think that I am. It takes a certain level of badass-ness just to get
here, but I think I need to step it up a notch if I'm really going to
thrive. It can be a pain in the ass to work in Ukenzagapia, so I've
gotta be tough too, mentally and physically. Not only that, I've got
to love the toughness of it. I think that's what makes a badass. I've
got to love living with a cold shower, intermittent running water and
electricity, the same foods for weeks on end, long days in the field
with my thoughts and observations, unpaved roads, and lest us not
forget glacially slow and expensive internet.

Yet so often I find myself thinking, "Why didn't I just choose a nice
field site within a day's drive of Big City?" Life at home is a lot
easier. I ride my bike to school every day, work at my computer, heat
up some leftovers in the microwave for lunch, talk with my advisors
and classmates, bike home at the end of the day and enjoy hanging out
with Jon in our awesome apartment. Not a bad life.

I mean, here I am in Africa without any advisors nearby wandering
through the wilderness full of poison tree trying to tease apart a
small piece of a big puzzle in an ecologically unfamiliar area with a
foreign culture and a difficult language. Mentally I've got to be more
bold. I need to stop second-guessing myself on all of my decisions in
the field. I need to be confident in my logic and my ability to do
this project, but I also need to be patient with myself and remember
that I'm still learning how to be a scientist, and I'll be learning
for my entire career.

Here's to being more of a badass in the field, more bold in my
decisions, and more patient with myself.


EcoGeoFemme said...

You ARE a badass!

I'm pretty sure that nobody loves those field conditions. I think people romanticize field work when they talk about it after. So you are just as hard core as anybody else!

Paulina said...

you are my most badass friend. does that help? still, I understand. I feel that I too totally lack in badassness, which I wish I had, I envy others who do, and yet I don't go out and get it.
interestingly, the word verification to post this comment is my real name. how odd...