After writing the abstract for my collaborative research about belonging at NTU, I was invited for an interview with the professors to answer 12 questions about my experience. Within the hour interview, the main things that kept coming up were my self-confidence and ambiguity – two things that I am already aware are my weaknesses.
The group research really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in terms of being able to speak up in discussions, especially amongst louder, more powerful personalities and also the ability to present my opinion and ideas clearly. Although by the end, I was still was the quietest member, I felt more able to voice my opinions and input into the conversations. I consider what worked really well about the research process was the fact that all seven students were from different academic disciplines, backgrounds and ages, which allowed us to utilise all our different perspectives.
Using this greater self-belief I am now helping to facilitate a B-tec programme every Friday at Brackhurst campus for the Equine students who are going through a similar process of research. So far I have been able to share my experience openly and aid a small group in developing a research question, tackling this from an objective viewpoint. One thing I have learnt from helping in these sessions is that individuals are so much more engaged when they are talking about what they are passionate about. This is something I will remember going into third year; I will focus my attention on a topic that inspires me and one I have strong feelings towards. I always think that passion and drive are silently evident in work.
The other element that kept reoccurring in the interview was my perfectionism and logical thinking. Coming from a maths background, I am always looking for the answer straight away and one that is rational whereas my creative side has honed my desire to create perfect pieces and therefore I get worried about getting things wrong or things not working out how I’d hoped/visualised. This links to the open ended research project since I was confused and lost at the beginning of the process as I was unsure what the end result needed to be. This meant that it had multiple meanings, interpretations and directions that it could be taken in and left me feeling out of control of the situation and therefore out of my comfort zone. This ambiguous journey was beneficial to me to demonstrate that although things may take a less direct approach and one that loops back on itself several times, the outcome can still be successful; more experimental and yet enlightening. I now realise the importance of going with the flow of things and not letting my brain get in the way of ideas and creativity.
I hope to continue to develop my self-belief and confidence going into third year by throwing myself into opportunities with an open mind and continuing to present ideas and share opinions in group discussions.