Spring semester has arrived! Despite the fact winter only recently began to feel and look like winter, it’s time to bounce back into the swing of things and begin and end the semester with a bang.
I spent my winter break and first week of the spring semester studying and submitting qualifying exams. What an experience! Sleepless nights, a nonexistent social scene, and books becoming my “baes’, life was rough, but I made it through!
You may not have been taking qualifying exams like me. Maybe you were dealing with other big projects over Christmas break, or you simply did absolutely nothing except sleep your life away and binge watch your favorite Netflix movies. No matter what you did, it’s important to remember to gradually get back into scholarly mode. I made the mistake in past semester of hitting the ground running BEFORE my break was complete. This semester, especially with exams, I am learning to strike balance by controlling my pace but still facing the semester head on. For current graduate students and even prospective ones, here are some tips to get you going:
1) Self-care: Unfortunately, I did not do a good job of this last semester, but recently became more aware of what MY needs are and the importance of addressing those needs before I can really help others. It’s so easy to cater to everyone around us and neglect our own self care. Make yourself a priority! Make treating yourself part of your natural routine. You’ll thank yourself later.
2) Tap into your support network: People genuinely care about us and want us to succeed. Despite possibly disagreeing with faculty members or having tiffs with friends, at the end of the day, you’re here (or preparing to be here) because people want you to do well. They are advocating for your success. Check in with those people. Keep them near, not only for how they can benefit you, but how you can be of service to them. Include those people in your thoughts, in your plans. Show them how their presence in your life has positively impacted you.
3) Say no! A good friend of mine said something extremely powerful recently. He said, “The word ‘no’ is a complete sentence.” In a conversation with him and another colleague, I followed his statement with, “Sometimes, someone has to say your ‘no’ for you.” There is so much power in this small word, but we as graduate students do not utilize it often. Learn to not only say no, but feel good about saying no. Be ok with being human! People will do two things in response: They will understand and/or get over it. Put first things first and do what matters.
I would be dishonest if I said I have all of these things down to a science. I have not mastered them, but I am intentionally trying to practice them often. By engaging in what I’ve mentioned, I am ready for the spring semester to give me what it’s got! #teamgetPHinishD 🙂