MSTP Life Lessons: Forward Progress Isn’t Always Linear

As the fall dawns upon us, I find myself entering the third year of the MSTP. It has been a whirlwind, and it is tough to sum up some of what has happened, especially over the last year. If nothing else, I have learned that this whole journey is not the smooth process I had envisioned for myself, being the meticulous planner that I am most times.


Sometimes it feels like everything is going my way, like I’m on cloud nine.

Blog 1


Sometimes life comes out of nowhere, knocking me down like a ton of bricks – or like Michael Scott on an unsuspecting Jim Halpert.

Blog 2


Sometimes I do something more like a sideways shuffle – floundering around a little and hitting ’em all with the ol’ razzle dazzle, just hoping I’ll figure out what I’m doing along the way.

Blog 3


It is in all of these moments – in the mix of all of these weird, horrible, beautiful moments that I have learned: forward progress is not always linear.

The past few months have been a challenge. In the midst of the craziness and sometimes in the sorrow, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of speaking openly with many of my peers in the MSTP. I was surprised to find that almost all of them said that they, at some point, had also felt like the “dumbest student in the program.” They had also hit a bump along the road, sometimes a major one. They, too, had taken different paths and been at different stages than they envisioned at certain times.

And I am reminded again: forward progress is not always linear. Perhaps all I can do is to just keep moving – to trust in my mentors, in my support network, in my friends, and maybe even in myself – and know that as long as I keep moving, I’ll get there… even if it involves some razzle-dazzle along the way. We will all get there, thanks in large part to an MSTP that supports our individuality in ways that come in handy when we have each needed it most.

I heard a quote recently that really resonated with me, and I think I will use it to end my post: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, courage is the small voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.'” -Mary Anne Radmacher


So here’s to hard work and forward progress, no matter what shape it takes.

-Emily Hayward, GS-1


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