This last week has been the pits for me; First, I got sick, and then a small piece of my back tooth came out, and I need a crown (MAYBE $750 ). I still have so much to complete to stay on track (a detailed critique/commentary for one class, and I must read a book for another class by tomorrow) but throughout the weekend my body was simply not functioning. So I did what I could during the week, and when everything ended Friday I headed home. I made soup with onions, jalapenos, and green onions and curled up in bed.
A major challenge we face as graduate students (or others in hyper productive environments) is that we get so used to being productive (or at least striving to be) that when we are not working, we experience guilt to different degrees. And this can really weigh down our future efforts.
I was in the bed, sick from the flu, with a toothache I would wish on no one, and yet I still worried about getting my work done, and what would my professors think of me if I did not live up to their expectations. BUT LIFE HAPPENS!!
Graduate school is an incredible experience that will test your limits, be they intellectual, emotional, health-oriented, or anything else. My friends and my family are my number one support system in graduate school, and I lean on them like crazy.
One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that it’s important to be honest. Especially in the first year of a program, there will be the people who are trying to put on airs to seem like they work the hardest (most common phrase, “I got no sleep last night”) or that they are the smartest (most common phrase, “I read < article > where < big name in the field > referenced < theory > that said ___”) and if you get bogged down in trying to play that game, you will end up feeling inadequate. Not to mention, those people are
probably definitely exaggerating.
The problem with putting up a façade is that you cut yourself off from receiving the support that you actually need. So, instead of saying “I got no sleep last night,” talk to your cohort mate or a more senior student about how you’ve been spending your time, and ask for advice on how to make sure you’re focusing on the right things. Support systems can’t work if you are not honest and open about the kind of support you need. Nurture those relationships, and you will have a much more fun, if not enjoyable, time in graduate school!
One thing good about the internet is the ability to more easily interact with your family and friends. Now, when I mean interact, I don’t mean mindlessly scrolling through their Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr profiles. It really means having a 2-way interaction, whether it be as “slow” as sending them an email update or as audio/visual as a Skype conversation.