I am in the process of applying to begin my PhD in Educational Leadership at Clemson. The application is due March 1st and I would start this summer or fall if accepted. The Phd application process has been an education all on it’s own. It’s been an interesting and exciting process to reflect on where I want to head in my career and marvel at where I’ve been. I’ve always loved looking back and reflecting on the connections between chapters of my story and the PhD application has been a great time to do that. However, it’s also brought to surface just how great my level of insecurity can be.
I have long considered myself a writer. I am an introverted feeler on the MBTI and have learner-connectedness-intellection on StrengthsFinder. This means deep in my marrow I need time to be alone with my thoughts so that I can organize and see connections between feelings and life. Writing has always been a venue for me to organize what’s going on in my head and heart. I love writing and often find myself processing my thoughts at a keyboard or in my journal.
However, much of what I write never sees the light of day because I find myself insecure about claiming the title of “writer”. Working on my PhD application had helped me to realize just where that struggle is rooted.
One big piece of my application is a 2-3 page cover letter or personal statement. The purpose of this letter or statement is to explain who I am and why I want to pursue my Phd, specifically at Clemson. This is straightforward and should not be difficult. I love learning and desperately miss being in the classroom and doing homework (sorry, it’s true), I know that it is required for me to be in leadership positions I aim for in my future, and I believe it will help me do my current job better.
For some reason writing that down and expanding upon it in a purpose statement has taken me weeks to even make any progress. I realized today it’s because I know that I will be judged on the content of this statement. I realized I’m paralyzed to put words down because I know the weight of the end product. The heart of my writer’s block is the power the fear of others’ opinion, specifically negative opinions.
I know that the heart of this fear is pride. I am afraid to call myself a writer or finish my purpose statement because I only want people to think positively of me. What if I write this statement and I don’t get into Clemson for my Phd? More broadly what if I am more faithful in pushing the “publish” button on my blog? Will people thing I’m dumb or disagree with that I write? I allow the fear of others’ opinions to paralyze me and I stare a blank page or save a blog post as a draft. I’m choosing to end the victory fear and pride has over me.
The reality is that when God gives us a gift, we should use it. To allow fear of what others may think to stop me from doing something or delay my doing it is equally sinful and prideful. Here’s to taking steps forward, not standing still.