Graduate school can be a challenge at times, and we need breaks to revitalize and re-center ourselves. During one of my study breaks this weekend I watched the Color Purple for the umpteenth time. However, during this viewing I was particular struck by Ms. Sofia. She was a Black woman who defied parameters during a dangerous time to be Black and a woman in America due to threats from the internal community and external societal. I would argue that she was one of the most self-assured characters in the work. She loved herself enough to not allow anyone to diminish her self-worth. And even though she had a season of silence, when she returned she chose to continue to live her life by her standards. I challenge all of us to see her as an example of true self-love. As we continue on this process to refine and hone our skills as members of the academy, we should maintain a sense of appreciation and love for ourselves. Embrace the “flaws” that have been highlighted by others and see them as an opportunity show the beauty of scars.
There are a lot of responsibilities that we take on as graduate students. Between personal, professional and scholastic development, I have felt absolutely exhausted at times. It is during these times to remember to be kind to yourself. Self-kindness allows you to forgive yourself. I may not get everything done as I would have like, but I am continuing to press forward, allowing myself to stumble and sometimes fall. There are days when the best I can do is show up… “but, dear God, I’m here!!”
Upon entering my doctoral program, I was told by one of my professors that doctoral study is a lonely process. I have never been one for crowds. So while I appreciated the notice, I did not put deep thought into her proclamation. Now in my fourth year of the doctoral process, I have a deeper appreciation for her words.
While the physical solitude of distance from friends and family stings at times, pursuing a doctoral degree for me has been more mentally isolating as I cultivate my academic self. In order to add to the body of knowledge I had to first consider who I am, who I am as a researcher, and who I want to be as a scholar. I encourage others to consider some of these questions before entering a program of study. For me the answers shaped my ontological and epistemological understandings of the purpose and goal of research. In turn, my understanding of my truths has shaped the courses I have taken and the way I frame my research.