Stop Letting Feelings of Inadequacy Impede Your Goals

Entering college I was convinced I would never switch majors. A decision stemming from seeing such an alteration prolong graduation, extending the financial pain that those who support their way through college often endure.

Though certainty gave way, as it often does and I found myself asking for the change of major form less than a year in. I had decided to transition from my original political science degree to environmental science. The decision partially grew out of my participation in the university’s Environmental Club. I cared deeply about environmentalism and felt sure of my choice.

Yet the summer before my junior year my certainty over the course of my college path was once again shaken and the next steps were engulfed by a haze of doubt.

That summer I facetimed often with my friend who was in Washington D.C. completing a software engineering internship. The opportunity paid extremely well. A paid-internship was a concept unfamiliar to me, an environmental science student. His excitement for the work, the city and its lifestyle, radiated, energizing my own curiosity. I began to ask him loads of questions about his computer science degree. From the talk about website/mobile app development all the way to AI, the possibilities with the skills he was developing appeared limitless. The possibilities also seemed to offer endless room for creativity, an aspect I felt I was missing with my current career trajectory. I began to wonder if I should switch my major.

It had been awhile since I felt so excited by an idea, yet I was filled with hesitancy. I was fearful it may be an impulsive decision from a fleeting interest. I questioned if it would prolong graduation and even if it didn’t, I felt I would have nothing to put on my resume besides the degree itself. I had no projects, no computer science related clubs, no internship. But perhaps the largest barrier was my overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. I doubted my intelligence and capabilities and nearly let those doubts stop me from changing my major.

Fortunately, the desire to switch was stronger than my doubts, making me push the major reset button just before entering my junior semester.

The course load was immediately unlike anything I experienced in environmental science. But two years and a computer science degree later, I can safely say I’m thankful I switched. Computer science has opened me up to a new world of exciting opportunities. I even managed to receive the Outstanding Graduate in Computer Science award. I only mention it as a reminder to not let feelings of inadequacy impede your goals. You may surprise yourself.

When making a choice that pertains to your goals, the mindset you bring into that decision matters immensely. Our mindset is heavily manipulated by our own doubts and from others’ criticisms. But strive to not let the criticisms of others and your own, inhibit the full exploration of your ideas.

Criticism often triggers uncomfortable emotions, provoking reactionary and defensive responses. These emotions tend to conceal the advantages of criticism. Criticism, or to use a euphemism “critique” is a tool to help you become better. Through changing your perception of criticism as a key to success, you gain control over those emotions criticism triggers. And most importantly, you choose to not let criticism fill you with the feelings of inadequacy that prevent you from going after what you really want.

Also, when faced with criticism or self-doubt, evaluate where this perception has evolved from and choose if you would like to allow this perception to persist. Once you accept it you can stop resisting and begin to work on it. As the infamous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung stated, “What you resist persists.’’

Lastly, when confronted by feelings of inadequacy, be prepared to work hard. When I made my switch I was prepared to put in a lot of extra hours to help compensate for the previous two years.

It is the feelings of inadequacy that contribute to limiting full exploration of your life goals, but YOU can choose to not let these feelings be your truth.

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Elisabeth Ashley

Elisabeth Ashley

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