If you polled every graduate student on a given campus and asked them if they had ever pondered the above question (or some form of the question) before, nine times out of ten, the answer would be a resounding “YES!” and for very good reason.
Remember when you were a kid in elementary school, and the teacher would ask a question or tell the class to come to her desk for a treat? You and your little friends would take off to her desk, eagerly raising your hands and awaiting her surprise, as you scream “Me first, me first!!!!
As I wrap up the 3rd year in my PhD program, I still struggle to find my sweet spot of productivity. BUT THAT’S OKAY!
Graduate school is essentially a marathon; you have a great (intellectual) distance to travel, and the primary goal is to finish. In order to do that, a balance must be struck between academic/professional work and self-care. Very often we forget about how important it is to take care of our mental and physical well-being. When we focus on sprinting too fast for a short distance, we run the risk of burning out (physically, mentally, and emotionally). So how can you negotiate your own balance of well-being and performance?
This academic year was a time of change for me: I suddenly became a guardian of my two younger brothers. I moved them to Bloomington with me because I knew they would have a better opportunity here than where they lived. However, I didn’t know how hard it would be to raise them while also continuing my academic career as a PhD student.
Before the boys moved in with me I had planned on being ABD (all but dissertation) by now, but I decided to take things a little slower. I knew raising two boys would be a lot of work but I figured I could easily continue on with my studies without any significant changes… I was wrong. Almost everything changed… Continue reading
Skip dinner to focus on homework (Check). Stay indoors to focus on work (Check). Eat the same thing for lunch over and over cuz it’s the easiest thing to prepare (Check). Having health complications due to eating habits and lack of exercise (Check). WOAH! WAIT! THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND!! Continue reading
My sole purpose at Indiana University is to graduate with my Ph. D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Yet, I seriously doubt that I would be able to be as successful as I am without friends (new family) and extracurricular activities to help keep me sane. In many blog posts on this site, my colleagues and I share many ways that we have found to connect to the larger Bloomington community. I, too, like to stay active in the Bloomington community with my church, the Farmer’s Market, and shopping. Additionally, I have found myself very connected to students, my peers and undergraduates. Perhaps it is the nature of my degree, but I enjoy the connections that I have with my peers and students.
I serve as the adviser to the undergraduate chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the NAACP. This is my second year and I love the opportunities that I have to advise, mentor, and learn from these amazing students.
We have a very active chapter of the Black Graduate Students’ Association or BGSA here on campus. From social events to networking nights, since my tenure at IU students in this group have celebrated birthdays, births, graduations, defenses, and so many other life altering events together. This has been a great way for me to connect to others across various disciplines.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about balancing all aspects of life in graduate school: academics, relationships, health (mental and physical), etc. While I can’t offer an ultimate solution for achieving a perfect balance between all of these (equally critical) elements, I do think it’s important to try to do so. I admit that I’ve never been the best at finding a happy medium–and that instead, I tend to swing from one extreme to the other. However, the older I get (and hopefully, the wiser), the more evident it becomes to me that if you let one aspect of your life overrun all the others–in the end, you’ll “feel it.” At this point in my life, I try to build elements of everything that I find important into my day. I don’t always succeed, but I’m determined to continue to try. Balance is important.