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The Secret Life of a Research Administrator | Doing Something Scary Changed My Perspective

By SRAI News posted 09-12-2019 02:32 PM

Authored by Tonya K. Edvalson

Clinical Research Compliance Officer
University of Utah

Membership Committee Chair

“The Secret Life of a Research Administrator” column is meant to facilitate more personal connections between SRAI members through the Catalyst newsletter. If you would like to share with the community or know of someone who will, please submit your article here.   

A friend of mine once told me that I should do something every day that scares me. Speaking in public used to scare me. I am doing that thanks in large part to the support of many of you in SRAI. There are two things that have held me back from enjoying Utah, the beautiful state where I live, heights and water.

Heights scare me because of an incident when I was very young. The thought of walking along the side of the mountain is terrifying, but give me a roller coaster and thrill ride any day! Hiking has opened up new adventures and I am finding that I can trust myself and seeing the beauty from those high places is something I have been missing out on for so many years. It’s an amazing experience!

Water, that is a different story. I grew up with amazing role models in my father and both of my grandfathers who served in my county’s search and rescue team. Most summers were filled with water rescues or recoveries. I know that sparked my fear of water, whether it’s rational or not.

When my husband announced two years ago we were going to be kayakers, I am sure many things were said (or at least thought), but I said, “It’s like you don’t even know me!” But, we bought the kayaks, the best oars, the gear for the car to haul them around, and the tightest and most comfortable life jacket I could find. We watched YouTube videos and I was still not convinced that I wouldn’t drown. I tried the flattest lake I could trust first. Guess what! I didn’t die. We had more adventures, tried different bodies of water, bought Baxter (my shih-tzu) a life jacket, and I absolutely love it! Our latest adventure even ended with tying our kayaks together and “rescuing” my brother-in-law’s family who had a misadventure on a large body of water in Utah, Lake Powell. I turned into a drill sergeant and for over an hour we fought those waves and conquered.

I have found that enjoying my surroundings, high on a hill or relaxing on the water, has given me a place to recharge. These are places that give me calm and a sense of purpose in more ways than I could have imagined. Maybe I wasn’t ready for that and missing it for so many years would have been lost on me.  I don’t know. But, I am going to keep doing the things that challenge me and realize that they have brought me so many fulfilling opportunities.

I challenge you all to take one thing that scares you and make it yours. You may find your new hobby, a safe place to be in your head, and meet people you would have never met. It’s an amazing journey.