LIFE LESSONS

My Journey of Self-Discovery Meant Breaking Free From Unwritten Expectations

I tossed academics out to embrace my true path

Nancy Blackman
Namaste Now
Published in
6 min readJun 7, 2024

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woman wearing long skirt and sleeveless top standing sideways, arms outstretched on a wooden walkway to the beach, sun setting in the distance.
Created in Canva by Nancy Blackman

Some of you know I began a doctorate program. The first time was in 2019, and the second in 2021. And, as if I couldn’t get enough mental stress, I tried it again in 2023.

Why was I going back to the place that caused so much angst and stress? I thought earning a doctorate would make me happier. I thought it would make my family proud. I thought a lot of things that, in the end, just weren’t true.

The fact is, I know who I am—artist, writer, editor, and loving dog mama. Yet, throughout my life, I was first told to fit myself into other people’s shoes. Then, as an adult, I kept trying it on my own. Give me a hallelujah in the comments if that resonates with you.

It’s a long, arduous, and lonely road when you approach anything in your life trying to live up to other people’s standards and expectations. It also becomes a breeding ground for unnecessary stress, anxiety, and depression.

First, I thought I wanted to be just like my dad — the PhD scholar. I also thought I needed the doctorate because I’m a woman of color living in a country that seems to think that if you aren’t of a certain gender…

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Nancy Blackman
Namaste Now

8X Top Writer. Editor. Writing Coach. Owner of Refresh the Soul publication. Read more of my writing: “Mixed Korean: Our Stories.” https://www.325kamra.org/buy.