I’ve said it once (many times, actually) and I’ll say it again: academia can be a really shitty place when it comes to your mental health. Yes, your academic adventures can result in a variety of extremely rewarding experiences–there’s no doubt about that–but when your forced to survive this high-stress environment that expects you to juggle heavy workloads, long hours and high expectations on top of the rest of your adult life… Let’s just say that even the most dedicated students can start succumbing to the pressure.
I was warned, even before I started grad school, that there will be at least one point during my five-year PhD where I would get stuck. It might be because a key experiment won’t work for weeks on end or the data I manage to get simply isn’t adding up—whatever it was it would be a very obnoxious rough patch and getting over it definitely wouldn’t be easy. In fact, I might find myself even tempted to quit.
But young, naïve little Krystal kind of just shrugged off the thought. That won’t happen to me, I assured myself. Besides, even if it does, I’ll get over it because I’m doing what I love! That’ll be enough to pull me through, right? I just have to keep the end goal in mind! Right?
I feel stuck and I don’t know why.
Everything is telling me that I should be having the time of my life.
I’m going to my dream grad school. I’m working in a discipline that I love. I’ve successfully survived my first year. And terms such as “intelligent”, “smart” and “successful” have been used to describe me–to describe my life. I mean, I suppose if I were to look at my CV I could maybe shrug in agreement…
But I don’t feel it.
I don’t see it.
And here I am… Stuck. Anxious. In a rut. And scared that my life has been a horrible mistake. That I don’t really belong here. That I’m an imposter.
Science is boring.
This is probably a phrase you heard at least once in your life. Most likely, it came from the mouths of those who didn’t particularly enjoy science or didn’t do well in science-related classes. It was a comment that us scientists (or soon-to-be scientists) were always quick to defend. Maybe a little too quick. Because regardless of who said it and in what tone it was said, I am a scientist and I’m here to tell you that I agree…science can be boring. In fact, more often than not, it kind of is. Continue reading
There wasn’t any doubt I would go to college one day. Learning was my past time. My passion. The sheer idea that I would someday be able to attend an institution dedicated to acquiring knowledge was like a dream come true. I couldn’t wait! But, honestly, if I was being completely truthful that wasn’t the full reason of why I wanted to go to college. After all, I could see right in front of me just how much more difficult life is for those who don’t have a degree. I didn’t want that life. I wanted something better.
I feel like every other blog post I write starts off with the same theme: grad school is such a weird time in a person’s life. After all, you’re simultaneously trying to make it as an adult (pay bills, start families, etc.), yet are still forced to live the student life of crappy wages, weird work hours and never-ending papers and assignments. However, despite this odd balancing act we grad students find ourselves in, that doesn’t make what we do any less of a job.
Grad students are working adults. We are not interns. We are not volunteers. We work for our respective schools (either through research and/or TA duties) and are paid as such. Sure, we may have a required amount of classes to take, but the point of grad school is to do great research, bring in funding and publish lots of papers. It’s a full-time job. Continue reading
Disclaimer: Though this article mainly talks about grad school experiences, this topic is applicable to many different types of people and the advice is applicable to anyone who feels the expectation to be constantly working.
Grad school is an interesting beast. You’re neither a student, nor an Adult(TM) and as such, you really get none of the benefits from either category. That is, you don’t have the surplus of free time between classes that you once had in college, nor does work limit itself to 40 hours a week like it tends to do in Adult World. Continue reading
Disclaimer: This post is just a single anecdote of my experiences with feelings of anxiety and my personal way of coping with it. I am my no means an expert and highly recommend that if you think you may be dealing with feelings of anxiety or have an anxiety disorder, that you seek help from a professional.
I’ve been in grad school for almost five months now (holy crap, it feels like years!) and it has been quite an experience. Though I’ve bitched and complained both here and on my Tumblr, overall it’s been a positive experience. After all, it feels like everyday I’m learning something new about my research field, meeting fantastic people and getting more and more involved with the science that I love… Continue reading
At the time I’m writing this, I should be studying for my final exam that’s occurring two days from now. I should also be trying to wrap up my first mini research project so that I can present to my professor this week to see if I found anything remotely interesting. Even more, I should also be helping my boyfriend with laundry and cooking and chores and other house related things, because I’ve seriously been lacking at all these things, making him pick up the slack.
Life is hard. Grad school makes life harder.
When this post is published, I would have finished the first quarter of my grad school career. It’s a great feat and pretty awesome in the grand scheme of things. But, I am in no mood to celebrate because goddamn it was such a challenge! Worse, it feels like I haven’t accomplished a damn thing and am not a single step closer to that degree I’ve been dreaming about for years. Talk about a motivation killer, right?