This will be the last blog entry about my grad school experience. Wow, it’s really over. However, shed no tears because it is not the end, only the beginning of a new chapter.
OK, super sappy, I know. I just can’t resist a touch of drama. Plus, I saw Avengers: Infinity War last weekend and I think the theatrics have rubbed off on me. I am still not alright by the way. Few of us will be until Captain Marvel gets released. Maybe not even until Avengers 4. This kind of movie that Marvel Studios made is called “the event” in the comic book genre, which is when all the superheroes get together to save the world and everything that happens affect everyone. And what an event it was!
Anyway, enough nerd rage for now. I wanted to leave you guys with some thoughts about grad school. This might be handy if you’re going for your PhD because from what I’m getting, it’s not much unlike a master’s, except that the stakes are a little higher, people expect you to know APA or MLA like the back of your hand and when you defend your dissertation, things are a little more formal. Additionally, getting a PhD takes a little longer. So when Dr. Strange said in the self-titled movie that he was able to get his master’s and PhD at the same time because of his photogenic memory, I was like, “Bullshit!” (Oops, more nerd rage, my bad.)
I would like to say something that will help you with grad school and this applies to your work life, too: Let’s stop glorifying being busy.
Being busy and the idea that it’s awesome and fulfilling is definitely a troublesome concept in the United States. During my second and final year in grad school, I wasn’t just taking classes: I was working on my thesis, I was volunteering for the American Association of University Women as a member on the student advisory council and I was working as vice chair for the communication division in the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. Pro tip: DON’T DO THAT. If you’re like me and you want to help out or prove yourself or add stuff to your resume, that’s cool, but try to pace yourself. Consider eating, sleeping and self-care into the 24 hours that you have each day.
I was extremely stressed during both semesters, to the point that I was unpleasant to be around sometimes. It’s silly that this happened, because I attended at least two self-care workshops last year. Where did I put my notes from those workshops? Why did I forget about them afterwards? Oh yeah, because like Dr. Strange, I like to show off. I like to be the best. Now that I finally have more free time, it’s really dawning on me how crazy it was to commit to so many things at once.
However, I’m both glad and relieved that I did. I was able to perform my duties and do them well. This last year has been such a blur that I rarely took moments to enjoy my accomplishments, so I was actually surprised whenever my professors and my fellow feminists in AAUW complimented me on my work. Looking back, I realize that it’s not that big of a surprise really because I poured my heart and soul into everything I did. Which leads me to my second thought: Hit the pause button sometimes and appreciate yourself and the things you do. How many people go for a master’s degree? Or a PhD? It’s such a rad thing, right? Give yourself a few pads on the back.
And finally, in the light of finding your own time, here is my third advice to you: Find an activity to do when you’re not studying/reading/writing/doing research/etc. It can be something creative, it can be physical, it can be a daily nap. Just make sure it’s something selfish. That sounds odd, but I’m being honest with you here. Find something that makes you happy, that contributes to your well-being and that doesn’t revolve around other people. Self-care isn’t selfish per se, but the “being busy” concept paints it that way. Taking care of yourself is a wonderful thing and it will help you with your academic endeavors as well as your career later on. A person who feels good about themselves is more likely to work well and work hard than someone who feels drained all the time.
I fortunately fell in love with fitness. If it wasn’t for the gym and a better diet, I would’ve found it difficult to stay positive. Lifting weights was like shaking off the bad mojo.
I hope this will be helpful to you guys. Now, excuse me, I have return to some comic book issues about Thanos and Captain Marvel. 😀