• Abbie Tibbott

Friday Special: My Academic and Personal *Flaws*

I wrote a post last month on my 2022 resolutions, and I’ve enjoyed posting some of my goals on Instagram. On the flip side, I thought it would be fun to have a look at some of the things I’m not so good at! Growth isn’t always linear, and some of these things are just parts of my personality, while others I am actively working to improve. Always try to show up as the best version of yourself every day, but also acknowledge that there are always bits of you that aren’t perfect. In this Friday Special, I thought I’d poke some fun at some of my academic and personal downfalls, so let’s have a look…

 

1. I’m an over-reader


I can think of a few people who will say this isn’t a bad thing, but honestly, I will read about anything and everything. Give me a reading list and I will double it, and it’s not like I do that and don’t follow through, I will actually find all the texts and make notes. This may sound like a bit of a flex, but I end up with so many notes sometimes that I get overwhelmed. I also don’t organise them very well at times so I have to then spend hours putting things into different folders and labelling everything. It can be time consuming, but reading so much can actually make me procrastinate the writing I have to do, and I often hide behind my book knowledge instead of putting my ideas into the world.


An example right now is that I’m learning to teach higher education, so I’ve been going though a load of guides I found in the library about how to lecture, create assessments and create good working environments. Honestly, I know it’s a bit overboard, as a lot of the learning will come from teaching students myself, but I never like to be unprepared.

 

2. I’m lazy about food


When I say this, it means that I often can’t be bothered to cook anything, so have the tendency to rely on packet meals or things that don’t have a lot of nutritional value. Fast food and cheese are my favourite things in the world, and it can be hard to resist. I have a habit of justifying my food intake by viewing food as a “reward” for all the hard work I’m doing, instead of changing my mindset to view food as a necessary part of being alive. I also justify eating rubbish by convincing myself that I’m too busy to cook, and also that having a communal kitchen makes things more complicated. While those two reasons are true to some extent, since coming back to university in January I’ve been making a real effort to make some changes.


I’ve gone back to bulk cooking, which I always do to a certain extent but then I ignore all those lovely meals in the freezer! I cook one or two big meals a week from scratch, with lots of veg, spice and protein. This means I can get something out of the freezer in a morning, and I have a guaranteed hot, nutritious meal when I get home that takes about 5 minutes to prepare. I do this bulk cooking in the middle of the day on the one day a week I don’t come onto campus. This way, the kitchen isn’t busy with people making their meals, and I can spread out and cook multiple dishes in the same session without doing loads of washing up.

Packing my own lunch is something I’ve always done, and I’m continuing with it as it saves me money and stops me going wild at the shop. I still eat out or get a takeaway once a week, but having my food organised makes my life much less complicated.

 

3. I find it hard to say no to work opportunities that aren’t paid


I love to help people out, especially when it comes to widening participation, mentoring and teaching. However, I don’t have any funding, so I need to say no to unpaid opportunities unless they directly relate to my research (such as writing a paper or contributing to academic scholarship). My supervisor has been instrumental in teaching me to value my self-worth and championing my need to be paid.


Ultimately, I’m developing the mindset of that if someone wants my help for an opportunity that should be paid, then they should find some money and pay me for it. I’ve had several lovely events I’ve helped with which I’ve been paid fairly for, so there’s no excuse to ask me to work for free. Saying no has not only strengthened my resolve, but freed up time so I can take on paid opportunities at short notice.


 

4. I put too much pressure on situations that are out of my control


Sometimes I’m waiting on things for a while and I put a lot of expectations on them, when in reality I have no control over them and there’s nothing I could do differently. A clear example of this was when I applied for funding last year. When I didn’t get it after waiting three months (a month over the deadline too, ugh) I blamed myself entirely. I told myself I was incompetent and unworthy and basically brought back the imposter syndrome I’d rid myself of when I’d finished my MA. I undid three months of working on myself and I’m still kicking myself for allowing myself to behave that way. I’m not one to cry when things don’t work out my way, and I’ve been gracious and clapped for people when things go right for them, but this rejection felt really personal. In hindsight, I was just a number to them, as they weren’t even allowed to see my name on the application!


One thing I’ve taken from the experience is to let go of things that I have put my best effort into. I’ve worked on the application, put good a decent amount of hours in and I’m happy with the result, meaning that I can leave it to the universe to decide what’s going to happen.

 

5. I plan too far in advance


I’m a planner and I use time-blocking, which I find really effective. There’s nothing wrong with putting down deadlines, meetings, events and important tasks, but sometimes I try to plan a whole week’s worth of work before I’ve even started. Productivity isn’t level, and sometimes I feel really motivated and will overachieve what I’ve planned, or the opposite can happen too.


I now time-block on the day, which basically means I sit down in the mornings and sort out my day then. Anything I’ve organised in advance will already be noted down, but I’ll take stock of what I know needs to be achieved that week, and then allocate time dependent on how I’m feeling. For example, as I’m writing this I’m feeling motivated to create content and then post to Instagram, but after lunch I’ll be needing a change, so I’m planning to do some reading instead. Everything still feels organised and under control, but I don’t have to commit to anything more than a day in advance, which makes life a lot less stressful!

 

Overall, I’m making some small changes to improve my quality of life, but I’m definitely not doing anything drastic. It’s important to get to a point of acceptance, and the flaws I’ve listed here are things that I can live with, even if I didn’t make any active changes. I've written a few posts on mental health this year, and although this isn’t strictly one of them, I think it is useful to cross-examine yourself every now and then in order to make some positive changes.


My Friday Specials are still coming twice a month, and I’m posting regularly on my Instagram, pretty much every day that I’m on campus during the week, so join @tibbotttalks_study for anecdotes, to-do lists and views of campus.


Happy studying!