This first year of graduate school has been tough! I’ve read too many pages concerning literary theory and countless articles concerning the novels we were discussing in class. Aside from the never-ending content from class, I learned how to be a better student and more about myself; that is not something that I expected to do in this year.
As a result of having various assignments and books to read for my classes in addition to working 35ish hours a week, I found that I was not getting nearly enough sleep each night. I remember looking in the mirror one night in November and just staring at the dark circles under my eyes. I knew then that my body was not made to run on 4-5 hours of sleep each night. In addition to this, I found myself getting sick more often. The stress and lack of sleep was weakening my immune system and just making myself feel like garbage.
When I had this realization that my habits were not healthy, I started talking with my therapist and friends to figure out a new routine. I found that scheduling out my week down to specific times of when I would work on homework and when I would take breaks began creating a positive effect on my body. Thankfully.
Multiple times throughout these two semesters I have reached a point of feeling like I could not possibly find the energy to finish my assignments or get them done on time. But somehow, they get done, and they get done well. I think that graduate programs push you in this way to make you realize of how capable you are.
The most important thing that I have learned this year is that myself worth is not found in my schoolwork or in a grade. For so long I measured myself worth in the grades that I got and in how well I did in a class. That’s an unhealthy mindset, I know. But this year I made friends with three girls in my cohort, and they are the most supportive people I know. Because of their constant support and willingness to listen and give the tough advice, I have found myself not being as hard on myself when I don’t do as well on an assignment like I would have liked.
For those who are thinking about going to graduate school, I think it is very important to make sure that you take care of your body and mind first. You cannot do your schoolwork if you are not healthy. The next most important thing is to find people in your program who are supportive and kind. I’ve only known these three girls since August, but I believe we will be lifelong friends because of the tough conversations we have had and the awkward classes we have endured together. Lastly, it’s important to know and be able to recognize the signs of burnout. Graduate school is hard, and it feels like it never stops; but you have to stop sometimes and make sure that you are not borrowing tomorrows time to get through today.