When I had my Watson interview, I ended by asking my interviewer about her own Watson year and what her biggest piece of advice for the the whole experience was. She quoted a song (which I have since forgotten) by saying “nothing was as bad as I could’ve feared or as good as I could’ve hoped”. It’s a succinct, incredibly accurate message that has helped anchor me so far. Since I am now just over 2 months into my Watson year, I thought I’d compile a few more things I wish I could share with myself before the year started and that have come to crucially shape the way I’m approaching my year.
- It is okay to take things slow. In fact, there will be times when you feel as if you have ground to a complete stop. Rather than scramble to fill this time with activity and push yourself too far outside your comfort zone, find some peace in the process. Settle firmly into your bones. Let these quiet moments tell you why they have come, where they might take you, and what you might want to change when time begins to speed up again.
- As time begins to speed up, you will be forced to make incredibly tough decisions. There is far too much life in this world for you to experience it all. You will miss out on certain things, but gain experience with others. Rather than focus on everything you might have discovered if you’d chosen differently, try to enjoy what you did choose and the experiences it has opened up for you.
- And, if you do feel remorse for your decision remember that there rarely exists anything as clear cut as a “right” decision and a “wrong” decision. Most of the time, its simply a decision. The rest is an adventure.
- Of course, you have to remind yourself that adventure is a deceptively complex word. Packed into it are some of the greatest experiences you’ve ever had in your life, as well as some of the worst. Adventure is the complex, textured meshwork of all of your experiences, so inextricably woven together that it is impossible to cherry pick out the good and the bad.
- This adventure is your own. You will approach it, learn from it, and take from it in ways that are very specific to you. Don’t berate yourself for not having someone else’s adventure. Enjoy the good, learn from the bad, and embrace the adventure for everything it is rather than everything it is not.
This list is sure to change and evolve, I still have 10 months of my Watson year left. But the very real experiences I’ve had that gave way to these ideas have already dramatically altered the way I approach my project and the world around me. I feel as if I have changed immensely, and cannot wait to see what else is in store. For this, I am eternally grateful.