Erika Uyen Ramirez









By Erika Uyen Ramirez

Keeping sane on the MBA program

I think most of us frequently find ourselves thinking too much. Well… being at an MBA program, we better spend a lot of our time thinking, indeed. But that is not the kind of “thinking” I’m talking about.

I am talking about when we keep an idea running around in our minds for too long, which many of us tend to do.

Overthinking a preoccupation tends to have a negative effect on us. It pulls us out of the present, into the future with anxiety or into the past with regret. Moreover, when we overthink by ourselves, this effect tends to increase in an exponential way: to dialogue with oneself is not good. While some ideas going around in our minds may be negative and untrue, the brain -as we may very well know- is so powerful that it makes us believe they are true, putting us down. When we allow ourselves the simplest of the actions, to just speak these thoughts out loud, put them to the light, let others question them, they lose strength immediately. My theory of why this works, is that the only thing holding our train of thoughts are our own beliefs, and I think that for a personal belief to hold, it frequently has to pass the exam of questioning when put out for scrutiny. This is what happens, for example, when an academic paper is published: for it to be definitely published, the author has to expose it to the scrutiny of other academics, and answer each and every inquiry successfully. Sometimes we are so biased by things like negativity, or so lost in our own thoughts, our own selves, that the moment we share our concerns with someone else, it’s very easy to hear, without them even saying a word, how wrong we may have been, and how easy the solution was. But we need to allow for that outlet to happen, and to speak up normally takes to put our egos aside. Difficult task.

I wanted to take time to say this, because I recently had a very nice experience in which I decided to share something that occupied a great part of my mind. Cautiously, yes, but sharing finally. I remembered everything I had ever read about overthinking, keeping thoughts to oneself, the brain being our most powerful tool, and using our power for positive things.

This year is so hard, trying to juggle the classes, the desire of travelling and seeing the world, not missing the activities going on, job hunting, dealing with family and friends from far away, being afraid of “not making it” in the end, wondering what life will be like after this year… This year is so hard. But it is also one year in a lifetime. We will never again have the opportunity to be with all of these people together at the same place; probably in a long time we won’t have a “time out” like this, when we are taking a break from working and just studying. We will never have “Oxford” again. Even if people stay here, it won’t be the same.

So, what I am –hopefully- getting at is, let us consider carefully where we put our energies, is it in the future with anxieties about jobs? Is it in the past with regrets and resentment? Or is it in the present, in the experiences we are living now, every day? I am no expert in how to handle these situations, and how to balance anxiety with healthy concern, but I know that the best we can do is live in the present. And what I can say is that, sharing your thoughts out loud with a good buddy willing to listen, will help a lot to keep you sane at this MBA program. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a peer supporter, but because it’s just plain logic.

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