273: How to Stop Playing Small

273: How to Stop Playing Small

In this episode on how to stop playing small, I address the pervasive issue of both scarcity and scarcity thinking in higher education and its impact on first-generation BIPOCs. I share my personal experiences of working to overcome negative messages and tap into your potential. I provide actionable steps to embrace an abundance mindset, build supportive communities, and pursue one’s the things that bring you flow despite systemic barriers.

To learn more about scarcity and abundance mindset, listen to GSF Episode 46.

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273: How to Stop Playing Small


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] You should be grateful for that salary. No seas mala agradecida. How dare you accept more than one fellowship when you could be offering the other one to your colleague? How can you have a podcast and have so many people listen in on your life? I don't even know how you are planning to move abroad.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Are you sure you're going to be able to make that work? These are all messages I've received time and time again of folks who unintentionally made me feel like I needed to keep playing small. And I keep hearing stories like this over and over and over again. And that's what prompted me to bring up today's topic, which is all about not letting higher ed keep you playing small.

Welcome to the top global [00:01:00] ranked and award nominated grad school femtoring podcast. The place for first gen BIPOCs to listen in on conversations about grad school, and growth. In this podcast, you'll learn about all things higher education, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Dr.

Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school. For over 14 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their personal and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Dr. Yvette. Today's topic is near and dear to me. It's about no longer playing small. It's [00:02:00] about finding ways to open up, to be more expansive, to flow, to really be me. Thank you Dream big and not just dreaming big, but actually executing on turning those dreams into goals and into reality.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Another thing that reminded me of why I wanted to talk about this episode is because I was recently updating my website. And there were a couple of accomplishments that I added. Um, of course, I, this year, added that I published a book, which has been such an amazing, incredible opportunity. I can't even believe that I did that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I also added that This year I became part of a Women of Color Speakers Bureau. I've been wanting to be part of a Speakers Bureau for a while now, so it means so much to me to be part of that network. Similarly, I was invited and [00:03:00] accepted the invitation to be part of a podcasting network, and it has felt so incredible to have this support.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And you might've noticed, that's why I've got some ads running. If they're not your thing, go ahead and ignore them, but just know, you know, there might be some ads here and there. I might even do some sponsored ads. I might do some pro bono ads to also support some businesses and non profits and orcs that are doing really great work, but that's been really meaningful to me to tap into that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And then lastly, I've talked about this many times, so if you're, uh, Listener you know about this already. I am finishing up later this year a coaching certification program for all BIPOC folks and it has been such an amazing experience and I just feel like I keep growing, like my potential is growing, my reach is growing, my impact is growing, and all of this happened because I dared to [00:04:00] not play small.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I dared to be courageous and to not listen to other people and their fears and their concerns, and instead I tapped into my intuition and what felt really right for me. And so, yeah, I wanted to bring it up and actually talk about this in the context of higher ed because, as you know, I was in higher ed for many years and I honestly could have stayed in higher ed until I retired.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Like, that could have been a very plausible reality if I decided to stay either pursuing the professoriate or pursuing higher ed. a mid level staff position and being happy with that and staying that way and there's nothing wrong necessarily in doing that if that is your dream if that is where you feel like This is it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This is where I'm doing the best work with. This is where I'm flowing. [00:05:00] This is where I am like at my potential. If that works for you, great. For me, I felt there was something bigger and better for me. And I always felt like this isn't quite it. This isn't quite it. And I truly wondered, I thought, am I always going to be unhappy?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I remember asking my husband so many times, just breaking down in front of him and asking him, Am I ever going to be truly happy? Because I keep pursuing the next thing and the next thing and the next thing, and I still just didn't feel it. And I'm so grateful that I kept listening to that voice in the back of my head that was telling me there's something better out there.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And of course, the grass is always greener, so I will admit that there are challenges in any field, in any career, Um, you get to choose your heart, but I'm so grateful that I chose this heart because this heart, which by that I mean entrepreneurship, [00:06:00] homeschooling, doing my own thing has been so much more gratifying.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I have experienced so much more joy and ease and just feeling really good about where I am in my life, despite everything else going on. Of course, Like I've mentioned time and time again, life is life and life happens. And I still deal with pain and I still deal with grief and I still deal with, you know, life challenges that we all deal with.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But I'm at a much better spot now. And it is thanks to me listening to that voice. And like I said, not playing small. So what are the factors that are keep you playing small? What are the things? that might be holding you back from tapping into your potential. Let's talk about it in higher ed. Higher ed is full of scarcity thinking.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's that thinking that there is not enough to share, that is not enough to go around, that there's only so [00:07:00] much out there and that you need to do as much as you can to get your little piece of the pie. So much scarcity thinking. How does this show up? Like, what is a manifestation of scarcity thinking in academia?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Well, higher ed, unfortunately, is not well funded. Just like a lot of different types of education is not well funded. So as a result, that means there's, there's literally less resources to go around. So it's not coming from nowhere. It is a very, It's a tangible reality. So that means there's limited funding, limited positions, limited tenure track jobs that increases that sense of competition.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: There's this feeling of like you have to do all the things that you're expected to do otherwise you're going to fail. By that I mean also there's this publish and perish mentality and all of that Different forms, different [00:08:00] manifestations of scarcity thinking. This is especially impactful and not in a good way.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It especially, um, hurts first gen BIPOC folks. Because not only are we dealing with the realities of scarce resources in higher ed, But we are coming in already probably with less resources than others. Yes, of course, we have access to cultural capital. We have access to each other. That's wonderful that we have our own assets, that we have things that make us amazing.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: We have our own strengths. We, we are valuable. But we also have to face the reality that if you're first gen, you might have, you know, Less access to financial resources, especially those of us that are from working class backgrounds. You might have less access to professional networks. You have community networks, but folks who are In higher level [00:09:00] positions, whether they're tenured or even outside of academia in like c suite roles, like we just don't see ourselves represented the more we go higher.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And since we don't see ourselves represented, then we feel left out, which can lead to feeling that increased sense of imposter phenomenon. And all of this just like trickles down to you feeling like Less than, like you have to prove yourself more, like you have to accept breadcrumbs and I don't want that for you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I don't want you to accept bare minimum and I don't want you to keep playing small. Um, but I want you to just acknowledge that if you have been feeling this way, you're not alone. It's definitely a systemic thing. Um, it's not a you issue. There's nothing wrong with you. It's just. our surroundings make it that much more difficult for us to tap into our potential, for us to tap into [00:10:00] actually, um, continuing to dream big and then accomplishing those dreams.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So I'll just keep that there. Now, um, what are some ways to start to let go of that scarcity thinking and lean in? to more of an abundance thinking or more of just taking your power back. Whether you are in higher ed or you're thinking of transitioning out. So how do you go back to dreaming big? This is one thing that was definitely a part of my experience and I've noticed it again among a lot of the folks that I talk to.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Whether they're my clients, femtees, etc. Just like folks that I am in community with. It's that. We go to college, maybe we were very high achieving, always did a really good job, um, in school or in other [00:11:00] settings, and then for the first time we start to struggle, we might, um, somehow figure out a way to end up in graduate school, and in graduate school, our dreams are crushed.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Our Creativity is crushed and we start to conform to the expectations of higher ed, which is typically to pursue a career in the professoriate. And that career is so rigid that it leads to you letting go of, like I said, other dreams and other goals. So what do you do about it? What can you do about it?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: If you are a student yourself right now, what can you do about it? If you maybe are a working professional, but you're thinking that you want to transition into something else. Well, first it's even listening to this episode and having this conversation with someone else, like bring up the topic with a trusted source of like, [00:12:00] Hey, have you noticed just.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: How much scarcity is going around? Like, have you noticed just how much competition is in our department? Have you noticed just how few jobs there are? Is this something that you see outside of that too? So, um, I would also want to encourage you to not just talk to a trusted individual, but to start to branch out, to start to meet people outside of higher ed.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Higher Ed is so insular and it's such a small world. Like so many people, you just know each other across institutions. You're all in the same departments that it just feels like this tight knit bubble. But there is so much more outside of this bubble. So I would encourage you to pop that bubble and to start to branch out and meet other people.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So you need to have access to support. You need to be in spaces with folks that [00:13:00] uplift you. That's super duper important. That's why in the field of entrepreneurship, there are these groups called masterminds, and I hate the name by the way, but masterminds is really just a space, a shared space with other folks who have very big goals just like you, and y'all are all figuring it out together.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Why not set up something like that for yourself with your group, with your collective? It's just everybody getting together. You all have this shared goal of tapping into your potential of pursuing one of many, many dreams or goals and see where that takes you. Also find ways to embrace the growth mindset.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This is not an episode all about the growth mindset, although I would love to talk about it. I can link to an episode where I talk about the differences between um, abundance and scarcity mindset. But similarly, the growth mindset is just like thinking about what are ways that I can learn? What are ways that I can grow?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I will tell you this, [00:14:00] I did not land all of these opportunities and these accomplishments this year because of something that I did quickly or overnight. There's no such thing as an overnight success. It's many, many years in the making and it's many, many years of baby steps. So what are the baby steps that you can take now to embrace learning, to embrace growth, to embrace starting over, to embrace doing something new?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: All of that is going to lead to positive change and to you ultimately instead of playing small playing big playing to whatever size feels right for you up to whatever your potential is. And then the other thing too is it's important to have a space where you can tap into your emotions. Uh, I've said this before and I'll say it again that one [00:15:00] of the things that I think separates me from other service providers is that I encourage big feelings in my spaces.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That is okay. That is allowed. I have a lot of big feelings. There's been so many times I've cried in front of my clients and some folks might think that that's unprofessional, but I take issue with certain definitions of professionalism that promote white supremacist thinking, and for me, that's okay.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Sometimes it's important to really tap into your emotions and to give yourself space to feel your feels. And after feeling your feels, see what comes of it, what you've been able to process and what you can do after that. So give yourself, um, time and space to process your emotions, find spaces where your emotions are allowed to kind of, where you're allowed to express them, where you're allowed to, like, be your full, self.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Also, here's the thing about no longer playing [00:16:00] small is that as you start to grow and as you start to play big, some people are going to find that challenging. Some people are going to be threatened. Some people are going to be disappointed. And so you're also going to have to start to learn to feel less uncomfortable with dealing with difficult conversations and difficult interactions.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Just knowing that you being your full self is going to make someone unhappy, that's on them, that's not on you. You know, they don't have to be around you. You may have some relationships shift, but it's not, um, All cause for loneliness. I know some people say that like some folks take healing so far that then all of a sudden they're just on their own.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I don't believe in healing that leads to isolation. I believe in healing that leads to a stronger sense of tight knit community [00:17:00] and chosen fam. And I really, really feel like I personally have started to better pinpoint and identify and build my chosen fam. Now more than ever. And I want that for you as well.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So learn to navigate these difficult conversations or difficult scenarios. Um, learn to what, what a lot of us say over and over again about like learning to set your boundaries, um, and to keep reinforcing them. Cause there's going to be so many times where folks will want you to keep playing small to their benefit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And Yeah, it, it, ultimately it's going to lead to change. So as you play big, some things are going to change. A lot of things for the better. Some things are going to be uncomfortable. Um, but just keep that in mind. Keep that in mind as you go through this process. Like it doesn't have to be an overnight thing.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I [00:18:00] don't recommend it being an overnight thing. I recommend this process of learning to play bigger as this like slow incremental thing where, where it doesn't completely turn. Well, I recommend playing big at a pace that feels right for you. Maybe baby steps feel good for you. Maybe you're at a point where bigger steps are needed.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So only you can figure that out. That's what's, you know, you might get annoyed at me because I say this a lot, is that there's no prescriptive approach. But that's just how it is. That's how it is, uh, you know, in anyone's lives. No one can tell you what is right for you, but you. So, um, yeah, I mean, I'm thinking about a couple of folks who have been in my shared spaces either have been my coaching clients or have been part of my group coaching program and it has felt so [00:19:00] affirming to know that folks are making powerful decisions for themselves.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Like I, I just heard recently one of my former group coaching participants completely changed departments from one PhD program to another as a result of doing this reflective work and realizing that she was in the wrong department. She was in the wrong field. She wanted to do something completely different.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And so she trust, she went through the transfer process. This is not the first time that doing the reflective work has led to someone who I've worked with transferring departments. It's also led to folks finishing their programs. It's also led to folks leaving higher ed. Also, I recently had someone who reached out to me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This person has a big following. They're finishing up their graduate program [00:20:00] right now, has a following on Instagram of over 30k. My following is not very big. I've got like 3k folks. So it's like, yeah, whatever, you know, numbers are relative, right? Um, So this person reached out to me and asked if we could chat because she wanted to learn more about my career trajectory because she's exploring her career choices and options.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I get the sense that she's considering perhaps options outside of the tenure track, which I think is very exciting because I want folks to know what their options are. And of course, I'm going to meet with her. So this is what's happening is as you play bigger. You learn about your options, you make different choices, and it leads to change and ultimately change for the better.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Um, not change to conform, not change to support one system that is, uh, not necessarily looking out for you and your best interests. So that's what I'm a proponent of. [00:21:00] I'm a proponent of you helping yourself, you helping your community, even if it's at the expense of no longer satisfying a specific system.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And that's what I want for you. So I hope that you got something from today's episode. I hope that you'll consider finding ways, you know, whatever pace that feels good for you to start to dream a little bit bigger and start playing a little bit bigger as well. Start tapping into your full self, your full potential.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I'm just so excited for what's to come for you. And same with me. I don't even know, I'm not even 100 percent sure what's to come for me, but I know it's, um, yeah, it's, it's only as big as I can dream. So I'm going to be dreaming bigger. I'm going to be challenging myself to keep dreaming bigger as well.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That's it for today. And as always, I'll talk to you all next time.

[00:22:00] Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you email me a screenshot, I'll send you a surprise freebie. The second way is to get your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit.

which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school. You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on Instagram with the handle at grad school, femtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name.

The last way to show your love is to order a copy of is grad school for me. My graduate school admissions book for first gen BIPOCs. Thanks again for listening and until next [00:23:00] time.

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