With you each step of the way

I have a thesis update! I completed a rough draft for all five chapters. 😅

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that after I finished the first chapter of my thesis, I celebrated by visiting Disneyland with my husband.

After having a fantastic time, I decided that I should celebrate just as big for chapters two, three, four, and five. I made plans to go to the zoo, a hockey game, and Universal Studios.

But, the writing process proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I faced setbacks and missed due dates, which meant that the days I set aside to treat myself quickly evaporated.

But after finishing chapter two, I came home to this.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 12:25, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.”

Worry is a heavy burden. This isn’t the end. I still have several rounds of revision to look forward to, but I’m so grateful to those who have supported me during this crazy process.

If you know anyone who is having a hard time right now, I encourage you to leave a post it or send a card. It might just be the very thing they need. 💜

The New Girl

The summer before 7th grade, my parents and I moved to Southern California. I was slightly nervous to attend a school where I wouldn’t know anyone, but I was comforted by the not so distant memories of “the new girl” I once knew. I remember how her hair rivered down her back. We swarmed her like excited puppies, eager to share who was friends with who, where the best seat in the cafeteria was, and our latest crushes.

All I needed to do was start the 7th grade a few days late. I knew if I postponed my entry, the teacher would present me to the class, give my short bio, and the kids would flock to me like they flocked to every new girl. On the day I started school, it all seemed to go according to my plan, except that last part. Although my classmates looked at me as I stood before the white board, no one was interested in who I was or where I had been. However, all was not lost.

Mrs. Harris introduced me to Annie. I would later find out she was one of the most popular girls in my class. I still remember her low-rise jeans and her clear lip gloss.  Shortly after meeting, Annie asked me to pull out my class schedule, and somehow the stars had aligned. We were a perfect match. After each bell rang, we’d strap on our backpacks and head for our next class together. Eventually, we made it to lunch, and she introduced me to a number of her friends.

I knew it was important that I make a good impression. The girls naturally began to converse, and although I can’t remember a single topic mentioned, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had nothing in common with any of them. I began to panic. I knew I needed to say something. I knew I needed to be memorable, river memorability like the new girl’s long flowing hair, but not a single word came. The bell rang, and time was up. Like a herd of startled antelope, Annie and her friends scattered before I could even think to pick up my tray. I rushed to throw my garbage away, only to turn around to find Annie and the girls were gone.

Instantly, I knew I had been ditched. Surely, I felt hurt, but there was also relief. I didn’t fit. They knew it. I knew it. I would just have to make new friends, but before that I’d have to find my next class. I pulled out the map I hadn’t used once that day and began my search. As I wandered the grounds, the school slowly emptied till I alone was left. Eventually, a lady with a lanyard found me and directed me to class. She opened the door for me, and I made my way to an empty seat. All eyes were on me, except Annie’s. She never looked up.

The next day Annie approached me. She told me that she was sorry, but that we couldn’t have lunch together anymore. I told her that was something I had already figured out.

One thing you all should know about me is that I don’t fear being alone. I never have. However, being seen alone was a different story.  The thought of sitting at a lunch table by myself was beyond something I could handle at that age. So, I developed a strategy. I’d walk around the school yard pretending to meet up with the friends I didn’t have. Except, one can wander for only so long. Hiding in the bathroom was the next best option. When it comes to fight or flight, I’m a flight type of girl. I remember standing in that stall and quickly recognizing what an idiot I was. Was I really going to hide in a bathroom during lunch all year long?

No. I was going to find a friend. I left the bathroom and scanned the lunch tables. I wondered how everyone had grouped so seamlessly. That’s when I saw her, a girl standing alone, staring blankly out into no where land. She was the one I’d approach.

I don’t remember exactly what I said to this stranger, but I know it was something along the lines of, “I noticed you don’t seem to have any friends, and I don’t have any friends. So, maybe we can help each other out.” And that’s how I met Dez.

Even though Annie and I couldn’t formally socialize, she continued to be my friend in the way her popularity allowed. For those two years in middle school, she always smiled and said hello. Toward the end of eighth grade, Annie approached me during P.E, and this is what she said.

I have a lot of friends, but none of them really care about me. You only have a few friends, but I know that they love you.”

After our conversation, she’d go back to those friends. Even now, fifteen years later, I’m not sure why. But that day, her words were a gift. It was right to be ditched.


Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Happy Thursday, everyone! I could not find a topic to write about today, until I read Ashley’s blog post, “The Liberation that Comes with Asking Questions.” She talks about her own experience working as an English tutor, which made me think of mine!

I learned about Carol S. Dweck’s fixed mindset and growth mindset while training to be a tutor for community college students.

Basically, she asserts that there are two mindsets.

If a person has a fixed mindset, the individual believes their abilities are fixed/established.

A person with a growth mindset believes that their abilities can be developed.

We were trained that parents should not simply tell their child, “Oh, you’re so smart,” when a child brings home a good grade. Instead, the parent should tell that child, “You worked really hard, and it paid off.”

The problem is that school can often be easy for children when they start. A child can believe that they were born intelligent (fixed mindset), but then when the assignments get harder and that child struggles for the first time, they may be confused that they are not instantly grasping the new material.

A child may then become afraid to ask questions when they don’t understand a lesson, because they have been repeatedly praised for being intelligent. Therefore, they fear looking stupid and decide it is best to hide their ignorance or misunderstanding.

However, I’m sure you can imagine how not asking questions can impede one’s learning.

A child can also have a fixed mindset by believing they are just dumb. Again, they will not ask questions, because they figure “what’s the point” if their intelligence is static.

Another sign that a person has a fixed mindset is if they ever say something like, “I’m not a math person.” Typically, this means, “I’m not good at math, and I never will be.”

It is important to note, even if a person has a growth mindset, they can still struggle. The difference is when they recognize that math is difficult for them, they will ask questions in class, go to their instructor’s office hours, and visit the tutoring center.

By the way, a person can have a fixed mindset in one area and a growth mindset in another.

I remember when I first learned about these mindsets, my mind exploded. I was that kid in class who was TERRIFIED to be called on. What if I didn’t know the right answer? What if I gave the wrong answer, and everyone would think, “What an idiot,” and then I’d die right there. Yes, I was a very dramatic child. Still am.

Obviously, I’m applying this to school, because I’ve been in college for ten years, and it’s all I think about. But, I feel this is also timely for all of you who made New Year resolutions. In what areas do you have a fixed mindset?

If you want a growth mindset, remember it’s about asking for help and finding effective resources.

Again, Happy Thursday!


T. Shaw