Aishat Motolani, PhD Candidate, Pharmacology and Toxicology
A famous Roman philosopher once said, “ luck is when opportunity meets preparation.”
If there is one constant theme in my academic journey to date, it will be that I always consider myself lucky. Although, I would prefer a different connotation than the word “lucky” because it tends to dismiss one’s efforts, however large or small they may be. Perhaps, this preference is also influenced by my binge of an episode on the mindset mentor podcast that passionately battered the four-letter word— luck.
When I reflect on the Roman philosopher’s quote above, I realize that the limiting factor to being lucky is partly caused by the feeling of not being prepared enough. Statements like, “ I will apply for this fellowship when I am in my 4th year” or “I will present at this national conference when my communication skills are better” can allude to the feeling of under-preparedness. I have never felt prepared for anything, no matter how many times I practice. My fellow type A personality graduate students can relate to this count. I remembered when I walked into my first ever laboratory, I felt like a complete imposter. I was not ready to conduct science as I had fantasized. Yet, I jumped into the pool of the unknown with my two feet. Whether I was going to sink or float would depend on the story I fed my mind, I said to myself.
Oftentimes, under-preparedness can be driven by waiting for the right time. When I started my collegiate journey as a pre-med student, I was always the first to raise my hands or jump at any leadership opportunity. Perhaps, this was because I knew that I had limited opportunities as an international student. So, my strategy was to get as many diverse experiences as I could and over-perform in assigned tasks to feel prepared and qualified for opportunities that come my way. Although I do have moments of hesitancy like: “Can I really do this at this time?” “Should I be in this space right now?” “Maybe, I should wait till I am in my senior year.” These are the types of voice I had when I was applying to orally present at a competitive symposium, to which I got accepted. The same voices came to me when I was preparing my speech to campaign for an executive position on the student government to which I was elected. I end up ignoring these questioning voices in my head because my drive to achieve what I wanted surpassed waiting for the right moment— whenever that is!
These anecdotes are testaments to the cliché that there is never a right moment/time. The right moment is like a mirage far off in the distance. When you get there, it moves further, and that reinforces your wait. The right moment is now right where you are. Is there anything you wish to accomplish, apply for, or complete? The moment to do that is now.
Well, how do you know that the right moment is now? By making it definite because the right moment is never-ending. For instance, as a former pre-med student who presided over a pre-med club, I often get questions like when is the right time to shadow doctors, conduct research, or take the MCAT. I always tell students that they can shadow doctors after contacting the list of doctors in their specialty of interest. You can conduct research when you find your favorite research topic and have reached out to the principal investigator. Similarly, you can take the MCAT when you have practiced to the level of scores you desire to obtain. These answers have made the right time definite, and now students can proceed to achieve their goals without feeling under-prepared.
Currently, as a graduate student, I no longer hold on to the concept of waiting for the right moment. It does not exist except when it is a stipulation on applications and the likes of it. Understandably, in some cases, it is practical to wait till a particular moment, like in a scenario of striking the iron when it is hot. However, most of the time, one is just never ready to take on an endeavor, and one of the most famous reasons is, “I am waiting for the right time.” You are here right now because of the enormous potential you have. When an opportunity comes your way— especially the ones you find beneficial, be prepared to go for it. Attempt not to wait for the right moment without defining what it is. So, when you start to feel lucky after an accomplishment, know that it is all the value stored inside of you that made it happen— and not your wait for the right moment!
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