My life in poorly-drawn graphs

What follows might be the nerdiest thing I’ve yet posted on this blog. So, you were warned.

I’ve started week five at my internship, which means that in a few short days, I’ll have finished up half of my time in Iowa, which I find slightly unbelievable because it’s gone by so fast. I suppose that being busy eight hours a day and going to bed at 11 most nights make time slide by more quickly.

Over the last week or so, though, I’ve noticed a trend in my confidence levels that vaguely reflect the ways they tend to fluctuate within different periods of my life, generally within the confines of a semester or summer, which is essentially how my life has been divided up since I started kindergarten.

Based on how I’ve felt so far and an extrapolation of the way my confidence tends to shift, I made a graph of the way my summer has gone so far and the way I expect it to go:

confidence graph original

Figure 1

While this is a very rough guess, you can see the general trends.

I start out with the extra oomph and determination that come from barreling into some new period of life. I listen to pump up music in my car, I write inspirational quotes on everything, I think about all the great potential the new period holds.

Then, after a start in which I’m enthralled by possibility and forgiving of uncertainties, I go into a slight decline. This is the point at which I start feeling like I shouldn’t have so many questions, like I should know what I’m doing by now, like someone is going to find out that I’m not as hardworking or talented or dedicated as they think I am. I start getting nervous and asking excessive questions, and I read way too much into what everyone says.

Fortunately, this downslope is generally accompanied by enough of an upward slope to both make up for my losses and to put me at a better point than I started out at. I start giving myself more permission to trust myself. I realize I can do more than I give myself credit for. I go into this weird reflective mode where I think about how far I’ve come, and I write a bunch of really introspective blog posts.

In terms of my summer thus far, I’d put myself at the beginning of the upslope. I’ve spent the past week or so wading through my more-excessive-than-normal worrying phase, holding back more than I should and finding it a little tougher to trust myself. However, the good news is that I know things are going to start looking up soon, that once I get hit in the face with the learning curve, the only way to go is up.

In a more long-term sense, I’ve also realized that while the above graph holds true, the curve doesn’t stay in the same place over time. It shifts up and down the y-axis. And for the last year or so, it’s primarily been shifting up.

What I mean by this, visually:

confidence graph low

Figure 2 – confidence cycle curve for last year

confidence graph medium

Figure 3 – confidence cycle curve for last semester

confidence graph original

Figure 4 – current confidence cycle cure, with some projections

confidence graph high

Figure 5 – eventual goals, based on current trends and projections

As you can see, with each successive period, the graph appears to be shifting upward, a positive trend for which I’d like to find methods of continuing.

Abstract: Sometimes it’s hard for me to have confidence, especially when I’m in the thick of something new and different. But the more I work through those times, the easier it gets to relearn how to believe in my own capabilities.

Week 4 summary: One ask the TH question, localization of the DOMA decision, event coverage of sheriff’s deputies serving lunch at a local park, coverage of a conference at a local college, legwork on a fire (contributed to an extended photo caption), made calls on an accident between two semis (contributions were a piece of the final story), filled in information for Dubuque Independence Day festivities advance, coverage of a local small town’s Independence Day Celebration, draft of tech column set to run in a week, Bee Branch Sunday centerpiece published


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