Inspiration for The Guidance Groove

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

My inspiration for writing The Guidance Groove grew partially from my conversations with the undergraduate students I have the privilege of teaching and learning from as a conservation biology professor at the University of California, San Diego. The young people who attend UCSD are amazing—bright, motivated, hard-working, and the best of the best in a myriad of ways. However, so many of them come to my office hours speaking of their imposter syndrome, uncertainty, unhappiness, and fears. I noticed that the underlying themes of their stories were not that different from those I heard from people in other areas of my life, and I sought to understand why so many outstanding, brilliant, and shiny people had self-doubt, lacked contentment, and were unsettled. 

Publishing research papers is the currency for advancement within academia, so translating complicated scientific findings into simpler stories through writing and teaching has been part of my professional life for 20 years, making the use of words my most comfortable form of expression. Thus, I started writing down what I observed and experienced from my students and others and that process helped me discover potential reasons why we humans move through life with less than ideal levels of ease and contentment. Before long, a draft of The Guidance Groove was born.

The Guidance Groove is my first book and, even though the subject is wholly different from my research, throughout the process of its creation, I drew heavily from my scientific writing experience. As with a science paper, the book is logical, succinct, organized, and easy to flip through to find the parts that are most meaningful for the reader. Much like the figures and tables in a research article, the stories used to illustrate my ideas are contained within boxes, making it simple for readers to find the examples that will help them better understand why we adhere to what I call the Unproductive Grooves of inadequacy, obligation, scarcity, and unworthiness and what it feels like to be stuck in those grooves and escape them. 

The logical progression I describe above was invaluable for the creation of my book, but the writing of and the inspiration for The Guidance Groove has another component that is less tangible, more difficult to explain, and not particularly logical. The process involves finding, paying attention to, trusting, and translating the voice that comes from somewhere that urges us writers to string words together in the hopes that we can relay the message of that voice into something meaningful, useful, and wholly authentic for another human to experience. That is the unknown magic of artistic creation. 

I have known this authentic voice for my whole life, and I long ago learned to pay strong attention when I hear its whispers, murmurs, shouts, and calls. For my writing, I listen to and transcribe the wisdom from that voice. To hear the voice better, I consciously quiet the untrue thought patterns in my mind. Those falsehoods that were long ago programmed into me by my upbringing, society, and my own choices to believe the made-up stories that comprise the bulk of my thoughts. I let go of what my mind tells me I “should” do, say, or be, and instead invite my mysterious and wholly authentic voice to be louder, clearer, and more distinct.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

PG is not in a position to judge whether today’s college students are more angsty than generations before or not.

He tries to avoid any old geezer attitudes that amount to “You think you have it tough, you have no idea what tough is if you didn’t go through the experiences I did when I was your age.”

He suspects that the days of old when college students just had fun and learned have never really existed for a significant portion of college students of any era. The golden glow observed through a rear-view mirror of distant pasts is probably self-generated rather than the way things actually felt during that period of being grown up without attaining true maturity.