Guest Post: Science artist Dr. Thomai Dion on confidence in science, motherhood, and entrepreneurship
Masha: Today's post is brought to you by Dr. Thomai Dion, a scientist and artist who has an amazing series of science books called Think-A-Lot Tots and a science technology engineering mathematics (STEM) coloring and activity book. Thomai and I originally connected online over our shared interests in both science and sharing openly about our experiences; now I'm lucky enough to include her science art as both an activity and prizes in my confidence-building workshops. If you'd like to see my guest post on her blog, please visit and comment! Now, here's Thomai:
In my field of work I tend to have a lot of titles. In no particular order: I’m a(n):
I’m also human. I have feelings. I worry. I daydream. I’m a mother too, so you can add an extra dose of worry to that mix. (Pharmacy humor. See what I did there?). What I’m getting at is that saying I’m “insert-solitary-title-here” cannot possibly cover the gamut of emotions that are all actually associated with what I do. I wouldn’t have things any other way of course, but I think broadly stating that there’s a natural air of confidence associated with embarking on an entrepreneurship originally inspired by one’s own entrance into motherhood would be… not entirely true.
I’m a pharmacist by trade and had previously held an amazing role innovating within a large Fortune 500 healthcare company. Once my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, we began thinking hard about our current career paths and how we wanted to raise our future little ones. We ultimately came to the conclusion that I would become a stay-at-home-mom; for all the passion and drive I had for my career, the excitement in knowing I would be home with my family quickly overwhelmed previous feelings. (That is not to say it completely extinguished things though!).
Going from jet-setting corporate business strategist to stay-at-home-mom with a baby was not without its adjustments. Life became much slower, the days longer, and compared to the busy schedule I had before, this was so wonderfully welcomed. Over time my stress levels admittedly dropped to zero, and with a baby-soon-to-be-toddler on the move constantly, my days were not without activity. I found myself in better shape, healthier and happier.
As my son grew he began to talk more and more, and with that soon followed his questions. It was amazing to witness him experiencing life events for the first time, inquiring about any and everything around him. And by “life events” I don’t mean only what we would consider big events like birthday parties, etc. To him, everything was a big event; the grass, the wind, even rainy days. This realization combined with his natural inclination to ask “why” sparked the idea to write my children’s science book series called “Think-A-Lot-Tots”, create my kids’ science clothing collection, and begin my own business “td the science mom” to encompass all of this work (td being me!). This is also where that important phrase I mentioned before about career-related feelings not being entirely extinguished comes into play. When I think back on all of my experiences and the different professional roles that I’ve held, it’s really no wonder that I’ve found myself pursuing entrepreneurship. It was perhaps only a matter of time, but like any transition it is again not without its adjustments.
I think the biggest initial hurdle for me with regards to starting Think-A-Lot-Tots, my Etsy store and “td the science mom” was simply just talking about it. Were these ideas actually good ideas? I of course thought they were, but was I subject to my own bias? Could this actually have traction within the marketplace? Would it inspire others as much as I hoped it would? Is it really that far-fetched? Am I really ready for this?
There were so many internal questions and self-inflicted worries with regards to simply talking about what I wanted to do that when I finally did discuss my ideas with my husband and family, their positive reaction was astounding to me. I had gone from seemingly endless rumination to having a team cheering me on and encouraging me to “go for it.” I still can’t express how appreciative I am to have had this, especially while I was just starting out.
The next big task for me was actually putting myself out there as I am by nature a relatively quiet individual. With the continued encouragement from others and my own conscious effort to push myself out of my comfort zone (inch by inch), I slowly began to share my work. And wouldn’t you know – people were actually interested in what I was doing! It all felt a bit unbelievable as I started gathering a following on social media. After many months of work, articles and podcasts, tweets and posts, I found myself exceeding any book sale goals I had previously set for myself. I have also taken a leap and broadened my work to include my kids’ science clothes within my Etsy shop, and I am proud to say I’ve very recently reached the highly anticipated milestone of making my first sale!
Thinking back on when I began all of this (which is really only almost a year ago) compared to how I feel now, my confidence in both myself and my work is by far what has allowed me to start and continue doing what I’m doing. During this journey, I’ve noted some of the major takeaways that I’ve learned in hopes of helping others who are thinking about pursuing a potential dream of theirs:
Make a tangible plan.
Put your idea to paper and map it out. This will help you create your major goals, define the “why” in what you’re doing, and identify what you could tackle now versus the many other to-do’s and larger picture down the road.
Talk to people.
Specifically – Identify a group of individuals whom you trust and value their feedback. If you’re uncertain about your abilities, open up about it and let them know. Those same foundational human elements of entrepreneurship like worrying, confidence issues, and even fear are common throughout all life experiences. Even if they don’t share the same entrepreneurial venture, they'll be sure to share relatable emotions with starting something new.
Give yourself credit.
You’re likely due for much more than what you’ve already allotted to yourself. Once you have your ideas mapped out, create a plan that can be executed, managed and measurable. The day-to-day progress can at times feel lacking and you again may experience moments where you are not confident in your work. Reflecting back on your achievements month-over-month can really put into perspective just how far you’ve come and help you stay motivated to continue pursuing your passion.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Yes, there are many folks out there that are already very successful. For the glaring majority though, that success didn’t just appear one solitary morning in a glamorous “poof” of shimmering adoration. It came after many, many days of hard work, consistently quality results and an admirable persistency. Your end-goal is likely going to take a while to achieve, but it’s during the journey where you learn and grow, not at your destination. Enjoy the ride.
Share your work.
Let’s face it. No one is going to know about the amazing things you are doing if you don’t tell anyone about it! Take that step and put yourself out there. It may be scary. Probably very scary at first. But again – Give yourself credit. Don’t compare yourself to others. And talk to people! As basic as these principles may sound, they are foundational to your success.
Thomai Dion is a pharmacist and mom promoting children’s S.T.E.M. education through books and apparel. Inspired by her own child’s natural curiosity to learn, she has created the science book collection “Think-A-Lot-Tots” available on Amazon. Her children’s clothing on her Etsy store empowers girls to pursue their interests, stating that “brilliant is beautiful.” All of her work and more can be found on her tdthesciencemom website. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest for updates and to join the conversation on encouraging all of our children to achieve and succeed. To reach out, you can contact Thomai at tdthesciencemom[at]gmail[dot]com.