It had been over three months since I had moved over a thousand miles to be closer to our extended family and left a temporary but a very fulfilling job behind. After the early excitement of a couple of early interviews had fizzled out, there had been a long silence ever since.
Research led me to possible freelancing opportunities: tutoring students and writing web contents for businesses worldwide. That is when I decided to start this blog, We Are Always Learning. I had initially thought that I would post tutorials based on the requests I had received from students who I was tutoring, …my heart had other plans.
I wrote about:
- My struggles with PhD and my world after PhD (there’s more on the way)
- The taboo around menstruation (you can bet there’s more on this too)
- Reading to my daughter and book recommendations (There’s more and especially on how it has helped me and how it could help you)
- Poems (There’s more there too. Poems pack more punch and flow more naturally at times)
- Learning in general (I call myself a Learning Advocate so you can only guess there’s more on the way )
- Interviews (They’ve taught me so much and I know there’s something for all of you there)
- Conservation (One sneaked in from my years of training in Forestry and Natural Resource Economics, more? You never know.)
- Nepal and how things could be different (I cannot seem to let it be)
- Women (Yes, I seem to have a lot to say here too)
- Research and Personalized Learning (This is my sweet spot and has a lot to do with everything I do and share)
- Self-Improvement (There’s going to be much more of this too)
- And …more
When people asked me what my blog was about, I said I write about things that interested me, things that kept me up at night.
It didn’t seem to mean much and I struggled in and out of writing and to keep the momentum going. I turned to it whenever I had that nagging feeling, that really really strong nagging feeling.
Two years in, I realized that I was finding myself through these posts. I was peeling the layers of my life, interests, lessons, and more so that I could understand myself and the gift that I have to offer.
For the past two years, this blog was what kept me going through one of the toughest periods of my life. It gave me hope when I I seemed to have lost it all.
Why was not having a Job that important?
You see, a job is not just a job, it is a person’s identity. At least, for me and the culture I grew up in. You are supposed to study real hard and then find a good-paying job with benefits and then settle down.
Now that I had graduated and did not have a full-time job, I did not know what to call myself and those around me had a hard time connecting with me in the same way as they had done before. My family and friends wanted me to see me finally settle down (I now actually question if there is such a time when a person feels truly settled in though). Their discomfort with my own discomfort led me to hide away, to disappear temporarily until I was back on track … or so I thought.
It was this one single medium, my blog, where I showed up that allowed me to explore uncharted territories, build virtual connections, expand my network, give back, receive, learn, grow, … in short it became my anchor, a medium that held me up. To write more, I read more and as I read more, I learned about things that
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know“
It turned out, I didn’t know a lot.
While pursuing my doctoral degree, I had been preparing for a life in Academia and then I developed other aspirations (to foster undergraduate research opportunities was something that had drawn me in). I however did not have the network nor the know how of navigating the non-academic work environment (even getting into an academic non-faculty position is not similar to securing a faculty position, let alone the jobs outside academia).
I did not know that submitting resumes over the online portals when you are not a close fit is almost an age-old strategy and that their are better ways to navigate the job environment. I’ll write more on this later too. Applying through regular job portals is very competitive and it’s like spending 80% of the efforts in trying to achieve 20% payoff.
I did not know what options were out there that would interest me and that I would be good at.
I did not really know ME! (Not really!)
I didn’t have any ideas for when I could not find that so-called permanent job that I was to get my hands on after completing my Ph.D. At least that was I remember being told: Study hard, otherwise you are not going to get a job. I had studied hard and I had some work experience and now I couldn’t find that JOB and I didn’t know what to do except to keep applying. It felt like I was shooting arrows in the dark, almost like waiting to get something back when I sent my resume through that devious black hole.
I didn’t know how to juggle life and the many roles and responsibilities that came in life. I struggled and thank god for the internet and the online resources that helped but I’ve stumbled and fumbled around mostly.
I still don’t know a lot and even the things I know now, I put them into practice imperfectly.
The two years that I had to struggle, I also found hope, strength, and saw the doors of opportunities. I stumble, I fall but I now know that I can still get back up.
And I know this, …
… a job and a title doesn’t define me.
…money and name are important and yet they are not important. They help me get forward but they do not define me.
…I was the same person before I got the job and after I got the job, all that changed was the perspective.
…I had to go through those ups and downs because I had to find the real me, not changing and yet ever changing.
So, after two years of taking a lot of wrong turns and some right turns, here’s where I am:
I am a Learning Advocate, someone who has found herself by looking for answers taking small actions, falling down, failing, and winning small wins.
I am a Learning Advocate who helps others find answers for their questions, some questions they have never asked themselves. I help connect the dots for people to move from where they are to where they want to be.
Here’s two testimonials that you can also find on my LinkedIn Profile:
Now, I do not separate what I’ve learned through formal education and my life experiences outside my formal education. I use all my life experiences to find those answers because these experiences make me the person I am. It makes me UNIQUELY ME.
I didn’t know when I started this blog two years ago, how important the blog was going to be to keep me going, to foster new relationships, to get past the shame I felt, to grow from the many vulnerabilities, and mostly importantly to FIND ME.
I will use my voice more this year and beyond because the world needs my story just like it needs your story. If you are hurting or if you feel trapped or if you want to grow and don’t see a way forward, write your story, share your story.
The world needs your story.
You need YOU and YOUR story.
When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending. – Brené Brown
I am building a community of learners. If you feel stuck where you are and you consider yourself a lifelong learner, I’d love to have you join my Facebook Group: Learning Communities – Students. Building a network to learn from and share has been crucial for me. Join ME!