PhD Chronicles: Part IV

Growing up, I had this mindset that I didn’t have to toot my own horn for anyone to appreciate and understand my worth. It is either you see it or you don’t – your loss anyway. I was conditioned to believe that it is bragging and no one likes a braggart hence I talked less and did more.

However as I grow older, I have come to understand that I need to unlearn that. Self-aggrandisement is really key and crucial to your future achievements. You may be very special but you have to sell yourself to be recognised.

Sales is something we do everyday – be it a product, person, service or even an idea. We are always trying to sell ourselves to others to accept us. And this ability to sell and persuade others is linked to our innate understanding and definition of ourselves.

Selling yourself short is one of the reasons why your special attributes are not recognised by your potential employers and/or clients. Have you noticed that people who can talk or sell themselves very well whether they bullshit their way through a conversation or interview often land the best deals? He or she may be less talented or smarter than you but she understands something about social intelligence, which is selling yourself the right way.

This is where most intelligent people fall short. They often lack the courage and boldness that less intelligent people do. They often focus so much on themselves and forget that you have to be able to get the attention of your audience or prospective employers by selling yourself the right way.

You have to sell yourself the right way to open and get in the door first before anyone can be able to recognise and appreciate your worth. When you say ‘no’ to new opportunities or ideas that seem daunting, play down your own accomplishments, steer the conversation away from yourself or refuse to put yourself out there for whatever reason, you are inadvertently selling yourself short.

What this translates to whomever is listening to you is that you lack confidence, undervalue yourself and overvalue others, put up with things you shouldn’t and don’t demand respect. As a result, you’d end up in toxic relationships and have minimal experiences because experience is what separates the chaff from the wheat.

No one likes that person that goes on a monologue about their achievements. However, you’ve worked extremely hard to be where you are today so own your story and tell it with zest. Find a balance and design your life the way you really want it to be. Be self aware to identify your weaknesses but focus on challenging and mastering yourself so that you can project yourself to a whole new level.

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PhD Chronicles: Part III

“Hello there! The angel from my nightmare”

It’s been a while since my last post. One has been busy with science and life – I sincerely apologise for this sojourn. Although, I am happy to say that whilst away, I made huge steps in my PhD program with interesting data.

I have also been opportune to present these data at a number of conferences as well however my first presentation is the one that sticks out for me. It was last year, to the MSc Biomedical Science cohort. One of the students asked me afterwards, Why did you decide to do a PhD? and what are your plans after the program?

These questions got me thinking about different things at the same time. Although I have always had a concrete plan about my life goals since I was 20, it took the preaching of a lecturer to convince me PhD was worth my time when I was at their stage as I’ve never seen myself going down the Professor route (but hey! never say never).

So when I was asked these questions, I was filled with some doubts about the whole process and I had to break my reverie to remind myself the reason(s) why I decided to plough this spiked road. These reasons are myriad that I can’t put them in words here.

However, if your aim of wanting a PhD is for family pride/honour, societal respect and gratification, and status symbol, I am here to tell you that it isn’t worth it. I must admit that in the “third world” like Africa, a PhD degree can propel you to greater heights and open doors for you especially if your aim is to be a powerhouse in politics or your chosen field. However, I believe that you can achieve great things without it.

This is not me trying to discourage anyone from getting a doctorate but letting you know that it will test you in different ways. For example, I am (naturally) an impatient person. I dream about things, plan them and hope everything goes according to any of the plans I’ve set in motion. However, things rarely go according to plan in the lab and life in general, and this can lead to frustration and depression.

As a result, this journey is not necessarily about intelligence nor hard work but patience, persistence and flexibility. It teaches you that patience is a virtue and impatience is not a vice but can be harnessed in the right way.

PhD equips you with a lot of transferable skills that can help you in any sector you decide to go into. A colleague once said, “the good thing about science is that a scientist can work in any field.” I am getting to that stage where I have to repeatedly ask myself what I want to do next – politics, business, academia, industry, research?

Whatever I decide to do next, this phd journey has tremendously helped me to learn, re-learn and unlearn a lot of things about myself and life in general. Prior to now, I liked to tell people negative stories about myself than positive stories and this was for a reason. Sometimes, I even act dumb and naive.

The reason why I do these things is because being a naturally observant person, I found out at a young age that we are all narcissistic to some extent. People feel better when they think they are better than you so I found it easier to read and understand them this way. However, doing this phd exposed me to a lot of experiences that made me realise this was more detrimental to my mental health and sense of self.

Our minds are our gateway to success, happiness and sense of accomplishment. The way you see yourself regardless of external opinions, perceptions about problems or undesirable circumstances and reactions to things beyond your control have an ample effect on our end products.

PhD Chronicles: Part II

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It is often said that scientists are all serious, intelligent and no fun but I beg to differ. I love to laugh and have a good time. A friend once told me, ‘I am not sure you’d stay in science after this. You are always happy…scientists are often doom and gloom.’

I do understand why many feel this way. Scientists sometimes over-complicate things in an attempt to display their intelligence. Some write and talk in a certain way that confuses the general public with their use of ambiguous words but in reality Emeka, Funke and Musa can’t be bothered at all. This makes them come off as condescending; ‘shoving’ their opinions down on people’s throats (peep the Climate change debate).

However, science does not have to be boring. It can be simplified and infused into so many things, especially arts – music. This will impact the lives of the target audience for the better. If you want people to understand things like climate change, infuse it into things that will impact their lives – not necessarily scare them. We lose the audience when we try to get too technical and complex.

No one likes a ‘know it all’ and you do not have to talk like a genius to be seen as intelligent. In fact, you portray your ingenuity when you keep things simple. Problem-solving is an integral part of science as things do not go according to plan most of the time. Sometimes, you have to improvise and end up solving the most difficult problems with the simplest solutions.

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” C. W. Ceran

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

Most of the world’s most difficult problems have been solved with the simplest solutions. For example, erectile dysfunction was solved by a simple solution called Viagra, which was initially intended to solve cardiovascular issues. Instead, the men ended up with longstanding erections.

Due to this reason, I try as much as possible to work hard and definitely play harder via music. We are all in pursuit of happiness so it is important to enjoy every bit of the process. Just like Albert Einstein, unarguably the world’s most famous scientist that ever lived, I see my life in terms of music and live my daydreams in music.

I must admit that my taste in music is quite different from that of Einstein. He was more into violin and classical music, which have been linked to better concentration and meditation. He was able to exhibit the synergies between science and music. This inspired the creation of the Oxford May Music festival, an event that showcases the link between both worlds.

How do we expect to solve the world’s health and scientific problems by living a ‘secluded’ life surrounded by like minds? The simplest solutions we seek are out there so go out, expose yourself to different worlds and have fun with different kinds of people. Then go back to the lab and try to imbibe these experiences into your science and its communication. That way, our work will be more beneficial to the general public.

 

 

 

PhD Chronicles: Part One

This year, I became a student again; went back to the University for a doctorate degree. And the journey has an interesting one, I must say.

I never envisaged that enormous stress and intrigue accompany the program. No pain, no gain right? Abeggi! The stress is on another level; it is nothing compared to anything I have been exposed to.

Prior to starting in January, I read a lot of articles on the mental health of PhD Students. I had always wondered why there were loads of articles on this but months down the line, I completely understand now.

I never thought that the PhD would end up being a dual degree – yes! it automatically comes with a degree in self understanding. I have come to understand that there are certain things about myself that I never thought and/or knew were there. Maybe these things have always been there and I turned a blind eye to them.

The first thing that I noticed was my apparent lack of social skills or conversation confidence. And I need this skill more than anything else to get to the level I am aiming for. Without this skill under my belt, I will not be able to charm/engage/learn from others, progress in my career, network, sweep the woman of my dreams off her feet, and most importantly, get ahead in life – become a billionaire dawg!

In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene identified social intelligence as one of prerequisites for success and mastery in our individual endeavours. Without social intelligence, we lack the ability to read others, and thence misread their intentions and become emotionally drained by the endless political intrigues and battles. Without social intelligence, one won’t be able to sustain success attained because this involves consistent interaction with others to learn from them, network with them, and sometimes even be able to work well within a group or workplace.

This year, I have fallen out with a lot of people including my landlady, co-workers and housemates. And this triggered some self-reflection. When you fall out with a lot of people, something is amiss so I needed to identify and rectify it.

You see, the reason I never knew that I had this problem was the fact that I have always seen myself as a “people’s person“. I get along with people so easily and make so much effort not to be a nosy parker or have others up in my business (see my previous post on this). On my day, I can light up the room and make everyone laugh.

I questioned myself a lot this year and it didn’t help my case. Like many other PhD newbies, I struggled with the impostor syndrome, and it left me holding onto what’s left of my self confidence. This created self defeating thoughts in my head; that I am not good enough.

Unfortunately, this translated to other parts of my life without me even noticing it. I couldn’t get my research story across – and this made me feel completely inadequate. A friend and an ex, once told me that my self-confidence level was too high, and because of that I come of as arrogant, proud and condescending.

I couldn’t believe that there would ever come a time that I would feel this insecure about myself. I mean even in my weakness, I believed there was some sort of strength in there. Maybe, I was wrong.

But the first and most important step towards solving a problem is identifying the problem. So once I did, I set out to solve it. First thing I did was to delete all the social media apps on my phone (except whatsapp), turned to literature to know and sound more confident about my research, and talk to people randomly (about anything) on the bus, pubs/clubs, at work etc complimenting and hugging them along the way.

I am going to do this for the rest of the year and review how far I’ve gone and level of progress I’ve made after that. I will certainly share my chronicles with you as I go on this journey.

Wish me luck.

What do you think about social and conversation confidence? Do you have or lack it? Please leave a comment in the comment section.

Much Ado About Sex

Scrolling through different social media platforms and watching people drop entertaining/funny freestyles to “for the dick/pussy” challenge, proved to me what I already know..our world is so obsessed with sex. And it is a bit out of control to say the least.

Sex is everywhere you go; there’s no escaping it. Everything is linked back to sex..the pictures, twerk videos, innuendos etc. Even when we are angry, one of the most common verbal expressions in the English language, “Fuck you!” subtly suggests sex. This makes me wonder if Oscar Wilde was right after all when he said, “Everything is about sex except sex, sex is about power.”

When I started blogging, one of the few pieces of advice I received was, “Dude, write about sex and relationships, that’s what people want to read about.” And he was right, blogs get more traffic when writers focus on such topics. Often, you hear people say that there’s more to life than sex/fun yet somehow they still join or follow the conversation.

The urge to join the conversation whenever the topic is about sex, love and relationships, is always there. Maybe because it is something we can all relate to. Maybe it is our deep craving to take a breather and relax our minds. Whatever it may be, sexual intimacy is at the core of our psychological needs.

Naturally, sex, love and affection are basic psychological needs (not wants) of every human being because we are biologically wired with hormones. These gonadal hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone), produced by the testes and ovaries, control brain chemistry and connections, and hence affect our emotions, mood and behaviour.

According to a scientist, Dr Daniel Amen, at the University of California, ‘enhancing oestrogen levels through regular sexual activity increases overall brain activity.’ Also, a recent study by German scientists has shown that brief viewing of pornography interferes with people’s working memory – the ability to pay attention and multi-task.

Either way, this alludes to us paying attention to what we feed our minds. The mind is so absorbent that it can soak up information from everything we do, see and hear: pictures, places, people, shows, movies, stories, ideas and opinions. What you feed your mind has a great impact on your brain capacity.

The brain has the capacity to create neural connections to your thoughts and experiences. So the mind can change the structure of your brain and relationships with others by creating patterns of the information it has absorbed. In the same vein, the brain can change the structure of the mind and relationships. And lastly, because we are tremendously influenced by others, relationships with others can change the mind and brain.

Feed your mind with empowering stuff. Cultivate relationships with people you can learn from. Value learning above everything. Hopefully, this will lead you to all the right moves in all the right places.

P.S. if you don’t like jokes about the genitalia, don’t bother watching the #FortheDick/Pussy” challenge videos.