The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
On December 20, I turned in my grad school applications. I’ve still got another three weeks until I can expect to hear back from the first program and I’m honestly not sure I’m going to make it. I’ve gotten through more than four weeks already — a noble effort. The thing is, I have a vested interest in my own survival so I needed to find some way to make it through the waiting. Here’s what I’ve got.
Distraction is the first line of defense. This is the foundation to surviving any long-term wait. Trust me; this is a required step. Find something to keep your mind off the waiting. A new TV show to get lost in. Learning a skill. Anything off of Phineas and Ferb’s list. Schoolwork always seems to be an excellent way to fill up all of your time until you can’t think of anything else. If you can keep your mind off the waiting, it won’t feel like waiting at all and the time should fly. “Should” being the operative word there. This doesn’t always work as well as I’d like it to.
If you’re anything like me, distraction will be a limited solution. Your mind will keep drifting back to the waiting. More and more often. That’s when I pivot to using the waiting itself as my distraction. Recently, I’ve been looking up housing near the school I applied to. I don’t even know if I’m going to need accommodation there and I certainly don’t need to be looking yet. But this isn’t about necessity. This is about getting my mind off waiting. By focusing on housing, I’m able to focus on something I can control that’s still within the subject of my waiting, which I can’t do anything about. Focusing on something like this feels like I’m making movement on the thing and keeps me engaged and excited about the potential future of it.
Sometimes the problem with allowing yourself waiting-adjacent focus is the inner voice. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That annoyingly persistent voice just loves to tell you all of the things that could go wrong. Maybe you won’t get accepted into the program. Maybe none of this will work out. Maybe there’s no point. Now we’ve got a whole new thing to be distracted from. For me, I can’t just ignore that voice in my head. It only gets more determined. Instead, I’ve learned to reason with it. If that voice tries to tell me, for example, that I won’t get accepted into the program, there are a few different things I might tell myself. First, I’ll remind myself that I have no way of knowing what’s going to happen. If that doesn’t shut my own brain up, I move on to a technique I’ll call “So what?” I tell myself, “Okay, I might not get in. So what?” The reality is that my life will not be over if I don’t get into a program I apply to, difficult as I’m sure that is to believe. Sometimes I have to do more reasoning than other times, but eventually, I feel a lot better.
Waiting is no fun at all. Unfortunately, it’s also necessary at times. I haven’t quite figured out how to change that, so, at least for now, we’re going to have to figure out how to deal with waiting. No matter how impatiently. Hopefully, what I’ve learned can help you too.