A special day

Joint venture – a guest blog by our blog coach Natalie von der Lehr together with our bloggers Ayla, Oksana, Nika and Nina.

For me, the 28th of May is not just any day, it is my day. In 2003 I defended my doctoral thesis, in 2010 I graduated with a MA in journalism. Both are big achievements and at least I give myself a pat on my shoulder and listen to U2 “A beautiful day”.

This year, my double graduation anniversary coincided with a workshop for the KI-blog. There was cake (thanks Emma!), happy faces and as usual in our workshops, good discussions. I decided to use the opportunity to let the bloggers train their interview technique. They each got to ask a couple of questions about me and afterwards they summarized their thoughts.

Thanks for making my day – and me – feel special!

So here we go:

Changing perspective – By Ayla

The thing that stuck with me most was the possibility to change perspective, and how much time you actually have in life to start something new, if you want to.

“When I was younger I had an internal struggle – will I choose science or something artsy. I chose science”, Natalie said. That sounds very familiar.

“Once I made the decision to go for science, there was no plan B”. That sounds even more familiar. Then, when Natalie described her process of leaving, she said: “It is a bit like breaking up from a long-term relationship. I went through a lot of emotions, anger, sadness, regret and then you land in the ‘We are friends, right?’-stage”.

It sounds like it’s a real ride. Also, I couldn’t help but laugh when Natalie commented on open-mindedness towards different people. “You think you are very open minded, because you interact with people from different countries. But you are actually really similar. Then, in the journalism program, that’s where I met people with really different views, talents and backgrounds.”

Kids and science – by Oksana

When Natalie said that she has two kids, I asked if she was telling them scientific fairy tales while they were young. Certainly, motherhood can be very tiring, when the children are small. Natalie does not remember clearly the stories she was telling them. However, she remembers that she would rather go to bed after the kids fell asleep, than write. Still, there was a story about a little guy, who was building a spaceship and was flying back and forth to the Moon. She told her daughter several variations, sending the main hero to different missions and involving animals in the adventures.

Natalie also described an episode from her son’s childhood. “He has built a combined lab and radiostudio for my podcast RadioScience, featuring the Lego-professor and his friends. He is very fascinated by my past as a scientist. One of our conversations when he was smaller:

‘You know, I was a scientist before’, said Natalie.

‘Were you crazy?’ her son asked enthusiastically.

‘No, not really…’

‘So, you stopped before you became crazy? Good’.

Personally, I think it is one of the greatest things to live a life that inspires your children.

On passion, bravery and other places – by Nika

Passion! The word makes me cringe because I feel a normative pressure. I can’t just work; I have to work passionately! Admitting a lack of passion seems nearly like a shame-stamp. Which is why I was refreshed by Natalie’s honesty, when she shared that she “lost passion for her project and it became completely meaningless to sit there all day”. Natalie was also authentic that being at crossroads can be terrifying. There are responsibilities, financial and emotional realities to be considered. So even if you find this magical passion, figuring out how to do it, can be even trickier. Natalie was lucky and found journalism in “almost a religious moment”. Yet, she was stuck at her old way of thinking and considered writing and editing for science magazines. “But there are no scientific magazines in Sweden” she chuckled and “from the excitement I ended up at this it is not possible!”. Eventually she freed her thinking and started freelancing. Journalism was “stepping out of a path, and I felt brave for doing it and I have done it for myself.” I felt touched by her bravery, genuinity and humbleness. She does not pretend things are simple, or that there is an end when you magically solve it all. She said that when the business was up and running she felt – “WOW, it actually worked! I have made it to another place”. Maybe instead of passion, we should adopt this talk of “another place”.

Starting up as a freelancer – by Nina

I find the thought of having my own little company very appealing. But what if there’s no clients and no income? How do you even get started, when you need income to pay rent? It turns out that it’s possible to get support for starting a company. While Natalie still saw herself as a failed scientists, others saw her potential and were willing to support her. She got some money from Trygghetsstiftelsen and startup money from A-kassan, which had a program to help women start up their own business. In addition to her start-up money, Natalie had a plan B in place, which I think was a very smart move. Staying in science is risky and starting you own is possibly even riskier. Maybe we should all have a plan B to take some of the pressure off?

Interested in learning more about Natalie´s career? Watch her career lecture on KI Play!





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