Life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
—William Ernest Henley
Waves in San Diego, photo taken by Emma Bennett
Daily Post Endurance Pingback

Endurance is an eloquent expression of grace mingling with human experience persevering onward even when the most terrifying, towering waves threaten to crush them against the rocks. To me, this is endurance: self-discipline, self-control, and fearless will to persevere even in the face of opposition, challenge, or uncertainty.

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Modern Occupations: Multiple Levels of Knowledge & Responsibilities

In today’s modern world, technology makes information accessible but the technological developments also involve factors such as flickering screens, glaring light, fast speeds of information processing, and increased work demands that are both physically and psychologically trying. There are numerous campaigns petitioning for people to unplug, and it behooves people to do so from time to time to conserve their energy.

I perceive that modern middle and upper class have a mindset to their advantage, of knowing how to network, utilize the vast array of resources, interpret information, and integrate multiple levels of knowledge and responsibilities in order to thrive better despite the series of recessions hitting the United States in the past few decades. Those that do not have the confidence to access these points will fall further into the gaping hole of poverty and lack of education.

There were a few segments on NPR that I listened to on the radio lately about programs to teach low-income people about resetting their mindsets which they may have learned from their early developmental socialization and other programs that set low-income individuals up with middle-class mentors to teach them how to have the assertiveness to push harder. These and other factors may help to alleviate the economic atmosphere of mass discontent, job displacement, and declining quality of living. It does take a village to assist people with the transition from surviving to thriving.

It’s not even all about money, having or getting a job, networking, or being lucky. It’s about a lot of factors. It’s about navigating through a modern world, developing analytical and perceptive thinking skills, and knowing how to look at a world full of information and connecting the right dots in order to have the information and opportunities you really need. It’s also about networking, not just to have names in your book, but to link yourself to like-minded comrades to support each other through thick and thin, and through this recession, the hurdles of life, the transitions of life, and the joys of life. It’s primarily about knowing and respecting yourself first and foremost before you face this increasingly globalized world. If you don’t run with it, it will leave you far, far behind.

These are some modern occupations millennial career seekers grapple with:

  • Evaluating information, discarding information that is obsolete
  • Knowing the basics of economics, personal finance, investing, financial management calculations, and financial management software/websites like Microsoft Excel or checking interest rates on Bankrate.com
  • Knowing the basics of reading and understanding contracts and basic civil legal matters i.e. bill contracts, landlord-tenant laws, employment discrimination, FDIC limits
  • Knowing how to search the internet for information
  • Knowing and continually utilizing mathematics and understanding of statistics
  • How to read and understand a newspaper, including politics and the stock quotes
  • How to understand that politics is much, much, much, much, MUCH more than candidate commercials, late night comedy, South Park, and buzzwords
  • Quickly processing and responding to emails
  • Constantly learning new technologies and software
  • Communicating with people from diverse cultures
  • Speaking with higher-ups i.e. presidents, CEOs, commissioners
  • Being able to quickly analyze situations during travel, i.e. navigating urban train, bus, and taxi modes of transportation, learning the cities, economy, culture, and basics of language
  • Studying multiple languages in order to understand people better i.e. French, Italian, Korean, Japanese

Myself considered, I am still learning these things. I just graduated from university three months ago. I feel that I am temporarily struggling but I am fairly ambitious and connected enough to pull my weight and then some. I love to set goals and often find myself hitting walls trying to accomplish them, but I hate to give in.

I feel that there are opportunities everywhere and it takes an intrepid explorer to go out and seek them. We are capable!

Technological Enhancement of Lifelong Learning

I would like to start with a video showing an excerpt of Bill Clinton speaking on lifelong learning. The entire transcript can be found here:

But this is an incredible thing that the most important thing I learned is that it’s important to keep on learning. That you should stay hungry and that the greatest gift can be even as your body begins to fail if your minds still working you need to use it.

The new modes of learning which are available to us today could not have been imagined when I was a child. There was no world wide web for public use. The most mobile way of making a lot of information available to a lot of people were by mobile libraries, cassette tapes, floppy disks, or VHS tapes.

It is difficult for me to feel completely competent with distance learning. I would not be capable of sitting around with only some online quizzes and downloadable information handouts. Why? Because my learning style is nearly 90% interpersonal and 80% intrapersonal. I learn best by observing people and interacting with them rather than hearing, reading, seeing, or acting something out. I like to argue, question, and debate. For me personally, if I am learning something I put it to the test until I feel it. These are my results from a multiple intelligences assessment from Edutopia:

learning

I found online classes out of curiosity about what they were like. I also felt that they were good trials for me to test whether or not I would like to consider certain disciplines if I were to get a masters degree. The options for certification can be good for resumes and LinkedIn.

I like the courses from Coursera because there are videos of the professors talking. Some of them are looking far off into the corner of the screen, talking in monotone, or reading from a paper and I usually drop their courses because they don’t seem personable for me. I found a professor who was dynamic, added humor, looked directly at the screen, and talked in natural conversational style, Michael Kerns, Professor and National Center Chair Department of Computer and Information Science of the University of Pennsylvania. I found that his lectures and the terms he presented were more memorable for me. My course dashboard on Coursera right now includes Introduction to Sustainable Development from Columbia University, Personal & Family Financial Planning from University of Florida, Networked Life from University of Pennsylvania, and Introduction to Financial Accounting from University of Pennsylvania. These are all free of charge.

For me personally, I felt like these options could be my second chance to do what I’m interested in doing. Although my education was better than most, from the University of California Riverside, I felt that I wasn’t given so much of a chance to explore or work with an academic adviser who was invested in my development. In lieu of the academic adviser I never had at UCR, I can be a free agent. Instead of having to wake up in the morning and sit at my computer at 6:58am to tap the F5 button to refresh the course registration page when it opens up at 7:00am or be doomed to taking filler courses that weren’t needed for my chosen discipline or any other reason, I can go into whatever I want or get out if I don’t like it. The classes never close, they’re never canceled. I am never wait-listed. I can learn at my own pace.

Discussion boards give the enrolled mates a chance to discuss ideas or get to know one another. The professors often add a syllabus, tips, advice, video lectures, quizzes, and downloadable readings. You can do what you want. Keep it or drop it. Go find something else. Learn what you want to learn. Autonomy is the key feature of distance learning.

FutureLearn has free courses from British higher learning institutions. OpenLearn offers free courses from The Open University. I have been brushing up on math from Khan Academy.

Gifted People at Work

giftedadultI have been reading The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, trying to understand what it meant to have been identified as gifted. At the age of ten, I was  placed into gifted and education programs. I struggled with being teased as a goody-two-shoes and a know-it-all, being told to quit acting like I know everything, and feeling afraid of expressing myself.

The book illuminates territories of the mind which were previously shrouded in mystery. While reading this, I felt that perhaps it was as if Sherlock Holmes were missing his partner, John Watson—that Mary-Elaine Jacobsen‘s book was a missing catalyst I needed in order to truly strive for self-actualization.

Now that I realize giftedness is a real psychological phenomenon and that people who are gifted are actually multinodal thinkers with more dendrite branches and physiological differences in the brain and nervous system, I can understand who I am better and perhaps support the cause of advocating for other gifted people. I realize that I have to practice focus, self-control, exercise creativity, engage in challenging activities, reach out to other people like me, and practice self-care.

This is a definition of giftedness I found from The Columbus Group:

Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.
(The Columbus Group, 1991, in Morelock, 1992)

People who are gifted come with enhanced abilities in creativity, problem solving, rapid thinking, and seeing connections branch out into the bigger picture. They can be either embraced in the workplace for their abilities or shunned for being eccentric, knowing too much, testing authority, or not coloring in the lines. In addition, giftedness also comes with intrinsic psychological issues such as high sensitivity, being prone to sensory overload, perfectionism, fear of failure and underperforming, and exhibiting non-conformist behaviors. It is highly common for gifted people to change career paths often or change jobs within two years or less, in some cases.

If they cannot exercise their creativity or engage their abilities in the workplace, it is urgent for a gifted person to find activities outside of work, such as playing music, joining a soccer team, volunteering to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, painting, or taking university classes for personal enrichment. Otherwise, they could be susceptible to withdrawal of interest in everyday life, sudden bursts of agitation, insomnia, persistent fatigue, irritability, and physical manifestations of lowered immune system, digestive disorders, or migraines.

Birds of a feather really do stick together. One way that gifted people can adjust better to their workplace is if they can find another gifted individual that they identify with, to give them a feeling of normalcy and belonging. In an environment where they feel they are the only different individual, it is possible that they will feel heightened alienation and perceived hostility from other coworkers. In one place where I worked, I had a gifted officemate I chatted with and spent break times with regularly. Outside of work we would discuss ideas about society, culture, the arts, and education, and we would enjoy activities like going to an orchestra performance together. I also had a gifted supervisor who often went out of his way to give me more challenging, diverse, and uncommon projects to tackle. He knew I would treat these projects like puzzles and drive hard to solve them and that if he made me do the same fieldwork all the time, I would fall into an existential coma like Han Solo being stuck in graphite.

Anyway, I digress. I inserted a personal story to help you feel what I was talking about. I found a Quora discussion about common problems of gifted people in the workplace. The definition of giftedness from this discussion is wrong, giftedness is not entirely attributed to an IQ, the majority of gifted IQ is around the top 15% of intelligence, and giftedness is not related only to intelligence but also psychobiological makeup, genetic variation, and psychological difference. The people here are discussing their experiences, what they have learned, what they have seen in other people, and how they have fit into their workplaces. Most identified gifted people who have had the opportunity to receive structured homeschooling or enter gifted programs are taught about socialization and adjustment. Those who are not identified or adjusted may have more of a struggle, a series of crises, and detrimental conflicts.

Succeeding in the workplace and with a self-actualized life requires a constant striving for self-care, self-control, adaptability, awareness, connecting to people for support, and recognizing when to back out of where one does not belong:

Psychologist Hans de Vries gives some practical tips in his book with regard to coming into better contact with everyday life and thereby with society. One such tip is ‘Don’t do it’ as the theme for avoiding becoming involved too quickly and with too many things. Corten emphasizes the importance of self-management with regard to one’s career: the gifted show, by nature, a tendency to reason rationally based on what they are able to do, what needs to be done, and which specific circumstances this demands. And, subsequently, to be surprised or disappointed when they discover that this does not automatically lead to them connecting well with their work environment. Contact with their own feelings, with that which they really want and whereby they become motivated, appears often to be a better basis for contact with colleagues and profiling in the work environment than real qualities. (from SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted)

Gifted people are sometimes subjected to accusations that they are show-offs, know-it-alls, or pretentious. Even if they are not meaning to toot their own horn, they can be seen as a peacock showing up to a party of quails. They’re not dress-appropriate. They stand out. They’re not welcome just anywhere. It takes self-control not to take these painful factors too personally and to adjust the levels of socialization where necessary. It is completely alright and necessary for the psychological wellbeing of the gifted individual to walk away from a work environment they cannot adjust well to no matter how hard they try. It might take considerable time and searching to find a workplace where a gifted individual could feel welcome and stay, but it is worthwhile once they do find it.

Aspiring for Greatness

Have you ever had those moments where you hit a wall of discouraging inner dialogue in times when you feel an urge to spread your wings and achieve something big? I think we can all have a sigh of relief when we recognize that we aren’t the only people in the world striving to push beyond our current limitations. What we are able to accomplish today is more than what we were able to accomplish every yesterday before, and we will have even greater chances henceforth. Experiential progress is a remarkable opportunity we can seize upon in every moment of our lives. Excellence is achievable every day.

It is one thing for me to say this and a wholly completely different undertaking for me to prove it. This is why I am starting to write this blog. I want to push myself not to give up on this simple task of writing for at least fifteen minutes, two to three times per week. It is so easy to start something, get discouraged along the way, and start dropping it like walking around with water cupped in your hand.

For myself personally, I am going to use this journal to expand my creative abilities, learn about leadership, and discipline myself to have greater inner stability. For you, if there is some way I can encourage you to also believe in yourself and push for self-actualization, I would be glad to be of service.

To cut things short and stop myself from writing you an entire novel, I believe that we can make choices to develop ourselves and set our dreams as our true north. We can reach deep down to really know ourselves. We can keep confident and keep our posture straight even in moments we feel tested, nervous, or unsure. We can aspire for greatness.

Greatness means strife for nation and man alike. A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… We are face to face with our destiny and we must meet it with a high and resolute courage. For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.
—Address at the opening of the gubernatorial campaign, New York City (October 5, 1898), reported in “The Duties of a Great Nation”, Campaigns and Controversies, vol. 14 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed. (1926), chapter 45, p. 291.