Including when I was asked to write a monthly column for Erasmus Magazine. I was so enthusiastic, my immediate response was: “I’ll give that a shot!” But when I was cycling home, with dark clouds looming in front of me, the little voice returned, questioning whether it was sensible for me to have reacted so impulsively. Shouldn’t I have taken a bit more time to think about it?

The nagging questions in my head didn’t make things any easier. “Columnist? Aren’t you supposed to be an academic? Do you really believe you’ve got time to write a column every month? That’s a tall order, isn’t it?” The deluge of questions was overwhelming and my doubts only grew. Even while still on my bike I started to think up ways of getting out of the commitment. “I can email the editor-in-chief and say that on reflection it doesn’t fit into my busy schedule.”

By the time I cycled into my street, the dark clouds had passed and I saw a clear blue sky. I locked up my bike and went into my house, where my husband greeted me with a big smile and said jokingly: “I got home early and cooked. Professor smarty pants can sit down and tuck straight in!”

I looked up shocked. Of course, professor smarty pants – that’s me! I sat down, talked about my working day and suddenly all my doubts were gone. The little voice had been silenced and my enthusiasm soon returned. My husband’s witty compliment came at just the right moment to help me step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Even if I’ve never written columns before, I’m going to give it a shot. I’m looking forward to it.

Hanan El Marroun is Professor of Biological Psychology. She researches subjects such as substance use and brain development. At this year’s Dies Natalis she was awarded the FAME Athena Award for her efforts as Chair of VENA, the network for female academics at Erasmus MC. This is the first of her monthly columns for Erasmus Magazine.


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