Repetition with the Uncomfortable Builds Confidence
By Kaitlin Gili
I have found that repetition builds comfort. The first time doing something is always the hardest. For me, it could be as simple as raising my hand in a new class full of strangers. Of course, it could also be the first time that I spoke about my quantum computing research in a room full of experts or my first solo journey to a foreign country. In all of these scenarios, it was a combination of a fear of failure and a fear of the unexpected; both which I discovered are detrimental to self-progression.
I have learned to overcome these fears by taking a leap, learning from my mistakes, and jumping again. I donʼt believe in practicing to be perfect; I believe in practicing to make bravery more instinctual. Iʼll go a little more into detail with one of my greatest challenges and most rewarding experiences: co-founding Encouraging Women Across All Borders, a non-profit organization that provides confidence-strengthening mentorship sessions and academic opportunities to university women. The organization was founded upon international participation; we needed women from all over the world who would support this and want to be involved. Each step was terrifying in its own way. I was forced to speak to women that I knew and women that I didnʼt about a grassroots idea that I wanted to implement. However, each time I would pitch the idea, it got easier. Each time that I talked about EWAAB in general, I felt that my ideas flowed a bit better. The fear fell away with repetition.
Nowadays, I hop on multiple phone calls a week to chat about EWAAB, whether itʼs with donors, new admin volunteers, or advisors. I think the biggest learning outcome from all of this is that you donʼt have to perfect what you want to do before you do it. It can be uncomfortable to go in with uncertainty and there is a chance that you might make a mistake the first time around, but if you donʼt take that initial leap, you wonʼt be giving yourself the opportunity to repeat and improve. Taking the leap is the first step to becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.
About the author: Kaitlin Gili is a Quantum Computing Researcher as well as the CEO of Encouraging Women Across All Borders. She received her B.S. in Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology and plans to pursue her PhD in Physics at Oxford University after working at Los Alamos National Laboratory and gaining industry experience at Zapata Computing. In the past, she has worked on four different research projects across three continents, including developing quantum algorithms for practical applications. She is passionate about providing mentorship for young women, creating new outreach tools for getting more young people interested in STEM, and helping others in their personal and professional development.