I wasn’t nervous. Which made me nervous.
Anxiety is supposed to be a good thing because it shows how much you care. When the blood pulsing through your body persists incessantly, your heart taking on a mind of its own. But in anticipation of presenting about my research at The Examined Life conference, I realized that my lack of anxiety wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
My calmness about leading a discussion of my research in effect reminded me about how much my research has come to define me. What was once merely something I do has now become a part of who I am. An inseparable component that, like my own name or hometown, I have no hesitance to claim and share.
I was fortunate to have engaged individuals, all attending my session for different reasons. Some who knew people with childhood cancer, some aspiring pediatricians, and others eager to implement similar mechanisms of research with other vulnerable populations. It was a smaller, more intimate group of people, which allowed for everyone to contribute to the conversation.
After I presented a brief overview of my project, we discussed some of the ethical considerations of my methods. Everyone then had the chance to encounter my narratives for themselves and to discuss the narrative insight they provided. We reconvened to brainstorm about some of the implications of this research, and even had the chance to watch Zach Sobiech’s music video for his song Clouds that arose from his experiences with osteosarcoma.
Although the time flew by and I had hoped to discuss much more, I was overall happy with how it went. The ethics discussion was tricky because there were so many logistical details that I had to explain, but most importantly, I was able to let the narratives speak for themselves. One woman commended me on my work and said something about how I was like a kid who swallowed an adult, which she meant in the best way possible. She elaborated, explaining how appreciative she was for my efforts and impressed by how mature and well-spoken I was for someone so early in my career. I really appreciated all the kind words of support; it meant a lot to me.
What I love about sharing my research is that it has always been such an encouraging experience. It pushes me to take a step back from the work that I have been so deeply invested in over the past year, to look upon it anew and remember how this project came to be and why it is, as I believe, so incredibly important. And I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
Here are the resources that I used for my discussion forum at The Examined Life conference: