Discomfort with Mental Discomfort is a Liability

try to confront discomfort

Nine out of ten times, I go to the writing center seeking help before turning in any writing assignments. “English is my second language” is no longer an excuse after five+ years (Yes, I learned some Texan slang, “How are ya’ll doing?” or “Hook’em Horns!”). But writing still makes me uncomfortable.

Paradoxically, when I saw the MPA blogger application opened, I jumped right in. This responsibility involves quite a bit of writing in addition to my class assignments (approximately 30 to 35 blogs per school year). Different from school work, the blog posts will have a broad audience. AND this is not just about me getting a good or bad grade, but my posts may leave a small impression on prospective students about the MPA program. Despite all that, I eagerly applied and was grateful that April, our Marketing Director, gave me this opportunity. So why did I do this? Besides wanting to share information and MPA experience with blog readers, I want to confront my mental discomfort with writing.

Cal Newport, who is an expert in learning techniques, once said in his book So Good They Cannot Ignore You, “Discomfort with mental discomfort is a liability.” Immersed in my accounting class, I immediately try to define liability in accounting terms: the future sacrifice. It makes perfect sense in this context. If you let your mental discomfort turn you away from improving yourself, then you will sacrifice opportunities to cultivate important skills, whether it is career-related or a more personal goal.

Choose something that is essential and challenging to you and work on it. Turn it into an asset (in accounting, the probable future benefit) of yours.

Some on-campus learning resources that may be helpful:

1) Writing appointments for graduate students: excellent tutors who are graduate students in Journalism, English, and Communication, among others.

2) Writing center for undergraduate students: similar to 1), but for undergrads.

3) Meet a learning specialist: Learning specialists assist students with study-related questions or concerns, including preparation for presentations, improving grade, dealing with exam stress, etc.

4) UT Sciences Toastmasters: “a club where people gather to gain experiences in public speaking and leadership in a fun and encouraging environment.” Highly recommend if you want to improve public speaking or communication in general.

2 thoughts on “Discomfort with Mental Discomfort is a Liability”

  1. Bingchao, this is so great! Thanks for sharing the information. They are very helpful as I would also need some help with my writing.
    Also, I love your writing and the idea that people should try to overcome their discomfort and change it into an asset!

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