I’ve used the words “crazy” and “busy” so much this semester that they have begun to lose all meaning.
Just to paint a picture: I have two classes (meaning that I’m attending grad school full-time), my part-time job, my work-out routine/karate training, my volunteer work with the American Association of University Women, my thesis, and this silly notion that I would like to have a social life.
Luckily, one of my professors gave me a wonderful piece of advice when the semester started: “Focus on the learning, not the performance.” Considering that I’m a perfectionist and over-achiever, that line has spared me several migraines and moments of self-loathing. As stressful as grad school can be, it is possible to achieve a sense of balance. If it hadn’t been for exercising, I probably would have spun off the reels a long time ago. It helps me fall asleep, and I feel physically stronger and more energized. I totally recommend finding a physical activity while you’re at school (or just in general, honestly), because it will make you feel better. Sometimes when I’m doing an exercise like weight lifting or push-ups, it feels like I’m literally purging poison out of my body.
So far, there has been only one time when grad school was zero fun: A few weeks ago, I was working on my research proposal on a library computer, and I thought I was saving all the changes onto my flash-drive. I left for lunch, feeling pretty good about my progress. When I returned and opened the file, it dawned on me that I had saved the new version of the proposal to the desktop. And I had re-started the computer when I left earlier. Two-plus hours down the drain. I almost started crying. I picked up my notes and slammed them against the desk, and threw my pen at the computer screen. Fortunately, my brother was there as I started to descend into madness and he patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath. You got this.”
In conclusion, shit happens. I was able to re-write everything, which didn’t take two whole hours, thank goodness. I also had another cup of coffee to make myself feel better.
Despite the challenges, I still consider going after my master’s one of the best decision I’ve ever made. I am gaining so much more than a degree.
I have made new friends.
I have attended three different conferences, all of which offered their own unique experience: Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters (MASAL) in Kalamazoo, MI; the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in Washington, DC; and the AAUW-MI Fall Leadership Conference in Taylor, MI.
I have immersed myself in a passion that was actually always there, thanks to my professors, cohorts and friends: Feminist media studies. While I’m working on my research on superhero masculinities, I keep coming up with ideas for future projects. It’s something that’s going to keep me busy for years.
And I have discovered my sense of humor. It sounds weird saying something like that and my friends have told me that I’m funny, but I guess it wasn’t until recently I really believed it.
A good sense of humor will also help you get through a difficult journey like graduate school.