Mindset · Science

Bugged by a Fixed Mindset about Science

This past summer I found these little guys on my parsley plants. I was curious to know more about them and did a little research to learn about their life cycle. FullSizeRenderThese are parsley worms, and you can find them chomping away at your parsley plants, carrots, celery, and other similar plants. I noticed these guys were eating more of my parsley than I was, and I was faced with some decisions. Should I pick them off my plant and relocate them to my neighbor’s garden (just kiddin’!)? I could relocate them to nearby woods or let them devour my herb garden. When I learned that they would one day transform to beautiful black butterflyswallowtail butterflies, the opportunity to watch this spectacular miracle of nature felt like a gift.

I decided that I wanted to have a closer look at the transformation these parsley worms would undergo. I placed them in a large vase with several freshly cut parsley. I took photos or short video clips of them every day for about 10 days. I started to wonder if these guys would survive my care with me not being known for having a green thumb. I read that if they formed their cocoon, they could survive the winter and emerge in the springtime. But would they really form their cocoon this late in summer?

I spoke to few friends about it. While I received supportive responses, I also received curious responses. “I didn’t know you were into science.” or “I didn’t know you would be the kind of girl who plays with bugs.”

“I’m not!” I quickly replied. I’m not into science. I’m not a “science,” girl, whatever that meant.

I realized that, even as an adult, I was making the very mistake I caution children, especially girls, against making. I had a fixed mindset about who I am, what my interests were, and that mindset dictated my imagined limitations.  

These were my fixed mindset beliefs:

  • I’m not good at science.
  • I’ll probably end up killing the parsley worms.
  • I don’t know anything about raising butterflies.

mindset-1024x786I reflected on this thought process and realized that the following growth mindset beliefs were what drove me to step out of my comfort zone:

  • I may not know a thing about parsley worms and butterflies yet, but I can certainly learn!
  • I watched a YouTube video someone made explaining how to care for the parsley worms, and I felt inspired to experience this miracle for myself.
  • It would be something different to learn about and to try raising butterflies.
  • I reframed the questions from curious friends and family members in my mind. These people care about me and weren’t saying I couldn’t do this – just that I hadn’t explored this interest yet.
  • What’s the worst that can happen?

I created a video montage of my parsley worms, taking photos or short videos every day until they formed their little cocoons. It happened very quickly, and I felt like a proud mama as I peered at the parsley worms through the glass vase. The butterflies will emerge this spring (2016), and I can’t wait to take their picture and release them to the world!

If I had maintained a fixed mindset of what kind of woman I am, I would never have considered taking a closer look at the little green and black caterpillars enjoying my garden. I wondered about limitations I place upon myself, and I found one great way to challenge fixed beliefs. The power to challenge, to change, and to grow rests in one three-letter word: yet.

YETThe next time you find yourself saying, “I’m not good at [insert skill/ability],” simply add the word “yet” to the end of your sentence. For example, “I’m not good at raising butterflies…yet!” That little word opens up a world of possibilities. It gives you room to grow as you think about what you need to do to gain that skills, knowledge, or experience.

This little parsley worm isn’t a butterfly…yet! FullSizeRender (3)What statement do you need to add the word “yet” to transform your beliefs and your life?

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