I wrote the piece below about some life lessons as part of an extended biography for a project about women working on water quality challenges– but I had to cut it from my text. I thought I would share it here as a reminder for myself, and for anyone who may find it useful.
There are a few lessons I have learned that I’d like to share with you. First, seek advice broadly, but only take the advice that resonates with your core. It is hard to find someone who can really tailor their advice to you, so listen carefully and follow wisely. Remember that your peers can give wonderful advice and serve as inspiration as well. Your peers as a student will be your colleagues, collaborators, friends of the future.
Next, define your own path. While being open to unknown and unexpected opportunities is incredibly important, I also believe that we each have the opportunity to define our direction and pursue it wholeheartedly. I have seen this done by many incredible friends of mine, who at the same time are perfectly average. You can do it too. Persist persist persist, and also lose focus sometimes.
Use data. Both for strong science and for self. If you’re anything like me, you have doubts, fears and uncertainty. Evaluate data about yourself to help you understand objectively where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You might be much stronger than you think you are.
Finally, use your heart. Despite all of the data you can have, your heart can guide you. Use your heart to develop empathy towards others, to listen to their stories, to be inspired and to push you to do what matters. Without your heart in the game, you may never stay up collecting the data, brainstorming ideas or finding a solution to the challenge of the moment.