Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nervous Anticipation

The following is part two of a multi-part series to run over the next few months. Melissa Baffa, Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM for GSCCC, will be joining the Corps of Exploration this year on the adventure of a lifetime. This blog series will chronicle her dive into the Unknown.

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It was early January. I had submitted my application to the Ocean Exploration Trust to join the Corps of Exploration for the 2015 Science Communication Fellowship program back in mid-December. The email should come any day whether I had cleared the first round of selection, and whether I would be participating in an online face-to-face interview within the next couple of weeks.
Only my family and a few close friends and work mates knew that I had applied for this very exciting, and somewhat intimidating, opportunity. I was on pins and needles. But in way, I was thankful that the opportunity had crossed my desk only days before the deadline – that meant I’d had to remain in this state of anxious anticipation for a much shorter time. One of the ways I passed the time was by poking around on the Nautilus Live website, enjoying the photos and videos posted from previous seasons.

Still, the anticipation was killing me!
In a photograph from the 2014 season, a "dumbo octopus," so named for the earlike projections on either side of its mantle, gets up close and personal during a deep-sea dive.
And then I got the email – I had made it through the first round! The first call was to my husband, the second to my mother, and the third to my supervisor. All were thrilled for me, and also a little anxious themselves as the reality started to settle in. How long would I be gone? What would the implications be for our family? How soon would we know for sure, so we could start making plans for work?
Insomnia hit me with full force. In the days leading up to the interview, I was so excited, I couldn’t get my brain to turn off at night. I didn’t know what to expect. I ran through possible questions in my head.
And then it was The Day. Because a continent separated us, it was an online interview.  The OET panel members were all smiles. Once the initial adrenaline rush wore off and I settled into the interview, it all just seemed to flow. We wrapped it up, and I knew in my heart it couldn’t have gone much better.
They told me it was going to be a couple of weeks before they announced their final choices. One day passed, then two. I couldn’t sleep. I would toss and turn at night for hours before I finally drifted off. Six days in, my eyes felt grainy and my head a little fuzzy. I started soliciting advice from friends and family – how could I push through this insomnia?

Twelve days after the interview, shortly after lunch, the email came in. I was all alone in my office; it was very quiet, but all I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears. The subject line only read, “2015 Science Communication Fellowship” – I would have no idea whether I was accepted until I opened it. I willed my suddenly-paralyzed fingers to push the mouse button. Funny how something I didn’t even know I wanted so badly only five weeks ago now had this incredible power over me.
I held my breath. One heartbeat, two. And then I clicked. Congratulations!” the email began, “It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that the SCF Selection Committee would like to offer you a spot in this year's Science Communication Fellowship.”

Now It’s Your Turn: When was the last time you had something really big you were looking forward to? How did it affect you? Please share by leaving a comment below!

Skip to the next blog post by Melissa: Insomnia

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