What I Learned on my Women’s Personal Development Course
To celebrate International Women’s Day, I wanted to share with you what I learned on the Sprint Programme – a personal development course for female and non-binary students. This course was hosted digitally by Warwick’s Student Opportunity platform, and I would really recommend applying for the chance to meet some amazing women!
I was somehow surprised that I learned the most from other students on the course! The digitisation of the programme meant we were split into ‘Home Groups’ of nine people, which we often returned to when having discussions. My Home Group was a group of women from many departments, and it was fascinating to hear how their experiences as women at university differed from mine. However, what surprised me the most was just how similar our experiences were! Every single one of us had faced Imposter Syndrome, undermining from male peers, and doubts about our own abilities. It was validating to hear that other women shared similar negative experiences, but also that they had persevered. Our discussions reminded me to continue creating space for these conversations, to support both myself and the women around me.
One aspect of university that I reflected on during the programme was my own academic experience. I often put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, and even when I do I still manage to find faults in my work! One idea we discussed was that within the academic sphere, good grades can almost seem expected and unimportant, whereas bad grades can be a massive deal. Hearing this really shocked me – how had I fallen into this cycle of not celebrating my own achievements? We deserve to be proud of good grades, and consider them as real accomplishments. Since the course, I’ve treated the marks that I am pleased with as mini-celebrations – buying myself a gift, or taking an afternoon off to relax. This has not only increased my personal feelings of success, but made it much easier to deal with bad grades.
The Sprint Programme devoted lots of time to discussing our own successes – something that can feel so difficult and self-indulgent! We can often be our own worst critics, and complimenting ourselves can be something very tough to do. During one of my favourite activities, we split into small breakout rooms and had to speak positively about ourselves to two complete strangers. This was probably the hardest task in the course, but certainly the most rewarding. Allowing myself to recognise my positive qualities challenged my usual self-criticism, and I have been trying to implement this positivity into my daily life. One member of my group suggested the idea of considering yourself as a friend. You would never speak so negatively about one of your friends, so why criticise yourself? This revolutionised my perception of self-kindness, and made it ten times easier to treat myself with compassion.
Above anything, the Sprint Programme reminded me not to be so harsh on myself. The course was a brilliant way to meet lots of different women, all sharing a similar university experience. I certainly completed the course with a changed attitude towards my personal kindness, and will by trying to treat myself with more understanding in the future!