"Having a positive relationship with myself is just as valuable as prospering in my profession."

May 21, 2020

YAY! Since my last post, I have wrapped up my third year of undergrad. This semester felt unattainable. The stress of online classes added on to the current madness of the world was a struggle. Being able to do this successfully makes me feel overjoyed, accomplished, and relieved. One more year of undergrad, and then onto the real world.
On another note, I also feel quite worried and stressed about my future. As mentioned in previous posts, the internships I applied for this summer got rescinded. I was looking forward to strengthening my skills and learning more about my desired field. I also no longer volunteer at RUSH Medical Center, which was allowing me to experience and build bonds with those pursuing similar fields. Looking into the future, I feel as though these instances will impact my career path. I feel inexperienced going into my last year of undergrad and searching for post-graduation programs and occupations. I was counting on these opportunities to build myself professionally and personally connect with my passions alongside others.
Reminiscing on last summer - I participated in a fellowship with Bottom Line. This fellowship was designed to focus on comprehending the significance of learning about oneself through a professional lens. We had eight weeks full of professional development workshops and field trips. The workshops consisted of numerous topics such as personal branding, networking, generating elevator speeches, conducting mock interviews, and refining resumes and cover letters. We had field trips to PwC to learn the importance of budgeting during and after college, and to Freedman Seating Company to learn about careers in marketing and engineering. I thank Bottom Line for this experience because it granted me the knowledge to represent myself professionally while holding my truth. I learned the uniqueness of my personal brand and what differentiates me from others and makes me unique.
At the beginning of the fellowship, we all wrote letters to our future, post-fellowship selves. I wrote about the things I wanted to accomplish and gain from the fellowship, as well as anything else that was significant to me at the time. Weeks after the fellowship had ended, I received my letter in the mail. By that time, I had completely forgotten about ever writing the letter. It was quite interesting to read and look back at myself before completing the fellowship.
One statement that I recall writing to my future self - “Continue to evolve and challenge yourself professionally, but while you are doing that, prioritize your personal growth as well.”
Looking back, those words still apply to my current life. Sometimes I tend to focus more on my professional growth and how I can continue to advance in my field. I tend to forget the importance of professional and personal growth coexisting with one another. I must satisfy my personal goals to be successful in my professional ones. Having a positive relationship with myself is just as valuable as prospering in my profession. I need to balance these components and consider every professional experience as a form of self-growth and vice versa.

"I had to learn to appreciate myself for remaining committed to my education and continuing to push myself further."

May 8, 2020

I'm learning to go easy on myself. Something that is much easier said than done. With all this madness going on, along with trying to complete the semester, I have learned the significance of not being so hard on myself. This semester was challenging before schools began closing, and transitioning to online courses added even more stress. I found it difficult to comprehend new material, engage in conversations with my professors and classmates, as well as remain productive and motivated to do my assignments.

None of this was easy, but I was only making it harder on myself. I needed to let loose, and give myself the space to understand that this new normal was going to take lots of adjusting. Along with this, I had to learn to appreciate myself for remaining committed to my education and continuing to push myself further. I slowly began giving myself more breaks between assignments and asking questions when I did not understand the topics being discussed. With time, I found that I was feeling a bit more comfortable with this transition.

I miss my life pre-COVID. I would be a tourist in my own city and try new restaurants with my friends, go on shopping sprees, go to the movies, attend carnivals, and the list continues. Now, my options are limited. For instance, I had not experienced these new embedded shopping regulations until recently. A few days ago, I went to the store with my sister to pick up a few items. First of all, we had to make sure we were all geared up - masks, gloves, and bottles of hand sanitizer. Before going in, we waited in line for 40 minutes. Once we were able to get inside, we obviously had to continue remaining distant from everyone. It seemed like everyone was extremely paranoid and rushing their ways through the aisles. This made me feel the need to quickly grab what I needed and go. I was not able to browse around like I usually would have. It made me feel like shopping, a hobby I once enjoyed was no longer enjoyable.

Once the world gets back to normal, I will probably miss all the time I have to myself. I have been trying to make the most of this time by strengthening my relationship with myself. I have developed new hobbies and spent this time reflecting and establishing future goals. Amid my busy schedule before, I tended to forget to just sit, relax, and have some "me time." Now that I have all this time myself, I am missing my old, busy schedule. I continuously think, when will I have structure in my schedule again? Despite this, after things get back to normal, I will be sure to embed time to take care of myself by doing something that brings me relaxation, comfort, and joy.

"I have always appreciated Bottom Line's support, and I am grateful that I am involved in a program that continuously supports me in every aspect of my life."

April 30, 2020

My name is Maysaa, and I am from Chicago, Illinois. I have been a part of Bottom Line since my senior year of high school, and I am currently in the Success Program. I am double majoring in Integrated Health Studies and General Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and will be graduating in May 2021. Post-graduation, I aspire to conduct pharmaceutical research and advocate the significance of health justice.

Due to the pandemic, my university has transitioned solely online. I'm also a student employee on campus and have not been able to work since the stay-at-home order. These changes have tremendously altered my everyday life in both positive and negative ways.

As for positive changes, I have pursued hobbies and interests that do not involve my computer screen. Although Netflix can be quite tempting, I have learned to include other activities that I enjoy. Exercising, reading, calling family and friends, and going for walks have allowed me to find healthy, enjoyable activities that bring me happiness.

On the other hand, there have been numerous negative alterations. One thing that I have found the most challenging is remaining focused and productive. A setting, my home, that was my relaxing place, has now become my workspace as well. I am attempting to deal with this by distinguishing my spaces from one another. It is extremely difficult to remain productive and positive when the new normal does not feel normal to you.

In regards to future career plans, many opportunities have been discontinued due to the pandemic. I had initially applied to many internships for this upcoming summer. Majority of these programs contacted me to inform me that they are no longer proceeding with the hiring process due to ensuring the safety of all individuals. In addition to this, I am a special services volunteer at RUSH Medical Center. Due to being a volunteer and not considered an essential employee to run the hospital, volunteers are no longer engaged members in the hospital. I enjoyed volunteering at RUSH and providing service in such a welcoming environment. Both of these instances saddened me.

I was excited to become involved in programs that would guide me in gaining knowledge related to my field. I now feel like my career is on hold, and it is not in my control.

Bottom Line has always been a huge support. My Advisor has remained in constant contact with me to ensure that I have resources to be successful, healthy, financially secure, and mentally/emotionally stable. My Advisor has also provided me with numerous COVID-19 resources and various methods of managing stress during this hardship. In addition to this, my Advisor continues to support me academically. They have ensured that I continue researching post-graduation options and remain dedicated to my goals. I have always appreciated Bottom Line's support, and I am grateful that I am involved in a program that continuously supports me in every aspect of my life.