PACKAGES TWO: the Fundamentals

I thought I knew everything until I became a scientist. So here’s my method.

Now ya girl is a perfectionist; it comes with the trade, ya know. For the things that I know, I try to do with excellence. However, the things I don’t know, even what most would deem practical, everyday things, can make me very anxious. I overthink, to put it simply. When a test at work calls for twenty microliters, I have to use exactly that. So for not-so-intense things that have flexibility, my brain is just like, “whaaa…”

Do I do this?

Do I do that?


Sometimes it's hard to turn off this part of my brain. For me, it is uncomfortable to not be in the know, but with time, I can f— around and find out. I’m curious and innovative, so I usually manage despite my nervousness.

As discussed in PACKAGES: It’s Time, in parts of my life I felt overwhelmed and rushed so now that I’m out on my own, I realize that in some ways I’m ahead of the game, and in some ways, I’m behind. I’m not always in the know, and I’ve accepted that this is normal because I’m young. But what if you’re not so young, and STILL not in the know for things that seem like everybody has #downtoascience?


Okay, that was corny, let's keep going.

Fully grown, able-bodied adults still lacking in areas mentally, physically, and emotionally are more common than we consider especially with today's variety of family dynamics. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, cultures, and even living conditions. If someone has never been exposed to something, they don’t always know a right or wrong way to approach that thing, whatever it is. It is not that person's fault, but it is their responsibility to address their ignorance. Check out this clip:

While this is sad to some, Comic Loni Love presents this in a lighthearted way. If you followed her stories on The Real daytime television show, she talks about growing up with a single mom in Detroit and how financial times were tough. In another episode, she talks about adulthood and having to learn healthier ways to eat, portion control, etc. Some may see her now from the outside looking in and be clueless about this struggle in her journey. My fiancé always says that common sense isn’t that common. Concepts that may be normal to one person may not be to another just based on how they grew up and what they were taught. For me, my parents were hard workers to make sure we didn't miss out financially and were able to invest in our knowledge and extracurriculars. Because of this, I spent a lot of time at home alone in my teenage years when I wasn't involved in something. I wasn't in the kitchen much. I didn't socialize a whole lot unless I had to for something. So whereas some adults my age (24) are dang-near chefs or social butterflies, I have to teach myself and learn to be comfortable with those things. These and many other “duh” things are foreign to me. Yours may be different.

Oddly enough though, as little as I cook, I watch A LOT of things involving cooking. I’m weird, though, so it's videos like what Michelin Star chefs do in a day, or how peanut butter is made, or, my favorite right now is Budget Eats on the Delish Channel featuring chef June Xi. She does these crazy challenges where she takes $15, $20, or $25 and buys raw foods locally to then make meals from scratch the entire week. It’s crazy stuff. She's even done a pantry clean-out project where she shows how you can exhaust the supplies in your pantry to help save money before buying a whole heap of groceries. Watch an example here.

Why I love this channel is not only is it interesting, but it has an almost primitive vibe to it. As the chef is making these things from scratch and having to substitute ingredients and make things work, she’s also explaining a lot of basic food science like how gluten sets or what ingredients are used strictly for aromatics, and all that jazz. You’re watching and learning basic cooking principles that can be applied to any dish. I’ve even attempted to incorporate some of the things she’s shown with what I already know and I’ve surprised myself with my progress. The more I experiment while watching June, the more I gain confidence and my cooking anxiety subsides.

Sometimes it's hard to know where to start with #unpacking. If you don’t know enough about something, then you can’t always ask the right questions to get more knowledge. For example, I graduated "COVID Class" of Spring 2020 from the Medical Laboratory Science program at ULM. After 2 years of pre-professional coursework, the program itself is a rigorous 2 years. The first year is all lecture/lab and the next all clinicals. You have to learn and learn fast, and we use clinicals to help us correlate what we’re learning since we can't bring certain specimens on campus for safety reasons. It’s kind of hard to learn about things you can’t see.

Well, the first year of my program our building had a bat infestation for a month or two which interrupted lab times and forced us to double-up on lecture information and cram. In year two, the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March causing us to lose one or two critical clinical rotations. For me, it was a microbiology rotation and a phlebotomy rotation. For each classmate, it was different for what we missed out on considering we all had different clinical schedules. So just think, we all have varying degrees of training before graduation and certification, but we all manage. After I finished on-the-job training, which was difficult considering worker shortages, I noticed that because I wasn’t exposed to certain things in clinicals, specifically, and had never worked in a lab before, I wouldn’t always know when something could be the wrong approach. I knew how to do my job, but not always the best ways to do my job. My mind was not built to think that way, yet. With more experience, more things now stand out to me and I can flow better without having to correct as many errors.

The best method to start #unpacking is to first stop and retrace steps. In my life in general I've deleted some of my social media, and I'm intentionally making efforts every day to spend time with myself and my thoughts. I’ve begun this book on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, by Dr. Jayme Albin and Eileen Bailey where you explore how your thoughts, feelings, and actions connect. It has been effective to treat people with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, etc., but “you don’t have to be 'mentally ill' or have a disorder to benefit from it. CBT is skill-based therapy. You learn techniques for analyzing your thinking patterns, creating new beliefs, and changing your feelings and emotions by identifying the thoughts behind them." Just like with any skill you learn, repetition and practice is key. If you think in the same way over and over again, even if it’s negative, your mind will return to that process. It can become a coping mechanism, a defense, whatever you need. It’s almost like you created a new tool.

I used to work nightshift and when I was running around some nights as a literal lab rat, always having to be “ready for whatever,” it started to become a mental habit so much so that I think too fast any and everywhere, even when I don’t have to. I’m still reminding myself to slow down and take my time. Some thought processes we’ve used for so long that it’s muscle memory. We don’t even realize we do it. When my brain is constantly moving like this, eventually it burns out, and I feel like I can’t process any more information. So I’d be killing it at work, and struggling at home. When it came to trying to learn new things, not only did I overthink it, I had little brainpower to give a genuine attempt. I started holding myself back.

Here's how I overcame this cycle.

New experiences lead to new revelations. I joined a skate class with the Roe City Rollers, my local roller derby league, and it has taught me so much beyond the skills. If you ever just want to get out of your head, meet some incredible gals, and just have a great time busting your butt, this is the class for you. It is only $10 per week. Sign up here. In week three, we worked on learning sticky skating, plow stops, and t-stops. Ya know, fancier stuff. If you’ve never skated, those terms may not ring a bell to you, because neither did they either for me at the start of class. It’s amazing how when you try new things, and get out of your own way, you’ll surprise yourself with want you’re capable of. Life was not meant to be limited, it’s meant to be lived.

For most of us in class, we’re working muscles we’ve never worked and pursuing moves foreign to our bodies, so it’s most definitely a challenge. One of the vet skaters told us that without a genuine attempt, we would never feel comfortable with this, or more advanced skills. Fear of failure (falling) will keep us stagnant. Like class, life also involves some degree of self-advancement. You can be educated until your ears bleed, but practice and implementation are where you get the most yield out of your knowledge. For two almost three hours a week, we learn fundamentals and tricks, but without added practice throughout the week, there’s not as much growth. Of course, we all have to move at a pace comfortable to us, but not in complacency.

So yesterday after work, I took my butt outside with my gear in my bag, drove to a park, and started practicing. At first, I was trash. I even fell a few times.

It was until frustration kicked in that I heard the vet skaters in my head repeating things that I heard at practice, "stay in derby stance!"

"Use your edges!"

"Slow down!"

Slow down was the biggest help. Sometimes in class, we couldn't learn tricks on-the-dime. The first attempts were slow, and ugly, but the FUNDAMENTALS of posture and positioning were there. I had to realize that if I can't nail tricks at a snail's pace, why do I think I can just jump to full speed? After this, I started improving. I can apply this to anything.

Check out me nailing a “plow stop” below.

Blogging some days is still very much a struggle. My work life some days is a struggle because I’m still a newbie. As I drove home yesterday, I wanted to sulk. So many things on my to-do list. For a second I wanted to think, “man, some people think I’m really killing it and I'm just trying to get through.” At that moment God reminded me that if my struggle looks like THIS to some people, imagine how much more I’d be killing it once I get over this hill? To be able to go from just managing and making it, to mastering it!

My "why" for wanting to learn to skate was years ago watching @supablackgirl and her journey on Instagram. View here. I WANT to do "crazy legs" one day. I can just see it:

But I’m not there yet. There are so many steps that are worth learning that come before this point that I don't want to just gloss over. I'm taking my time with this new adventure.

It’s been a long year of slow changes. And though individually the changes feel insignificant, together they have helped me reach the turning point of journeying to be healthier. Every day that I do the inward work, every day that I sacrifice what I want for what I need, it gets better. Because much like skate class, it’s hard to get to a place or skill level you’ve never been, without a genuine attempt. Sometimes you have to slow down and catch the fundamentals. Every day is your practice.

So whoever is reading this, I want to see you healthy, too. I want to see you in the know. You may feel far from where you need to be. You may feel like you suck. You may even fall a time or two and it will hurt. It’s okay to get it wrong as long as you keep moving in the direction of getting it right. Baby steps, butterfly.

From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow. -Aeschylus

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