I’ve been absent on here for months. I wrote this post back in September (hence the autumn pictures) but didn’t want to post it.
I was really struggling.
Well, I’m back! And I’m ready to share. Here’s what I wrote on September 28th, 2018:
“I kind of don’t know where to start with this post. I feel vulnerable even talking about this because I can’t seem to get over the fact that I told so many people, including readers of this blog that this was my application year. The application year. Watch out world, here I come to plow through the application, interview, and match process while also attempting to propose, run, write, and defend my dissertation, finish and submit five other manuscripts in progress, continue other active research projects on top of maintaining a full caseload of hospital patients and clinic clients.
I hope that sounds as crazy as it felt to me.
But maybe it doesn’t sound that crazy, because I KNOW PEOPLE WHO HAVE ACCOMPLISHED ALL OF THESE THINGS – IN. ONE. YEAR.
I think I wanted to be one of those people. Because I know I have the ability to push just as hard as the best of them in the short term (see how I’m cutting myself short there?). That’s what I did the past two months and the past three weeks especially.
I said no to all social events except for writing dates.
I neglected my inbox.
I cleared my schedule of all meetings except for those with my advisor and lab.
I stopped cooking at home and went for fast and easy food on the go.
I stopped going to the gym and yoga class.
I stayed at the library until it closed.
Then moved to a coffee shop.
Then moved to a 24-hour donut shop to pull the all nighter.
I EVEN ACCOMPLISHED THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE FEAT OF WORKING FROM HOME.
And honestly, it worked.
I was writing 4-8 hours every day (cutting myself short here again, I looked at my writing logs during this time and I had multiple 8 hour straight writing sessions AND ONE 14 HOUR WRITING SESSION… oof). I was completing sections of my dissertation proposal like crazy. I was checking off items on my to-do list at a graduate career record pace. I was doing it!
What kept me going? The shoulds.
- You should be good on your word.
- You should apply to internship in your fifth year or you’re “behind.”
- You should have worked harder your first 1.5 years in the program.
- You should have known this was going to take you a long time.
- You should keep pushing no matter what.
- Why? Because you SHOULD apply this year.
- You shouldn’t be the person who stays an extra year.
- You shouldn’t do that because others will think less of you. Worse, they will remember that you didn’t belong here all along. They’ll find out the secret you’ve been hiding for four straight years – you don’t work hard enough to deserve this.
You know what?
FUCK THE SHOULDS.
Yes, I got shit done and it felt good.
Yes, I COULD have made this all happen by the deadline. I know I could have. But why in the world would I do that if I was eating like shit, feeling like shit, sleeping like shit, and putting everything else I love aside?
I’m sorry shoulds, but that is just not my style.
Sure, I committed to graduate school when I began my program. And I’m committed still to completing my degree in its entirety, but I did not come to graduate school to suffer, despite this weird underlying narrative running through the veins of academia hinting at all the SHOULDS including that WE SHOULD BE SUFFERING. What. the. Fuck.
No, just no.
Here’s what my decision came down to:
The pros of staying:
- An entire year dedicated to proposing, running, analyzing, writing, and defending my dissertation BEFORE this madness happens.
- One less year of long distance with my partner. He just got to the same city as me and it feels amazing to be together.
- One year less between he and I in completing our PhDs. I stay one year longer, that’s one year less in the gap that he and I have between when we will be applying to jobs.
- More time for honing my clinical/assessment/research skills. I’m finding that internship is NO JOKE (duh, but it’s becoming very real). So any extra time to sharpen my skills is a big bonus.
- MORE TIME TO SAVE MONEY. Applying to internship is extremely expensive, so another year of low-cost living in Nebraska would do my savings account some good.
The cons of staying:
- Feeling down/disappointed/embarrassed because I feel like I should apply since that’s what most people choose to do.
When it’s laid out like that it seems pretty straightforward to me!
So my advice for today friends is to pull back on the grind and relax a bit. Don’t push yourself so hard you start to break. You’re worth more than that, so take a cue from me and pour yourself a glass of wine.
I think September version of Jessie said that pretty well in the end. Honestly the only thing I feel mildly down/disappointed/embarrassed about now is not publishing this post much earlier. But, I’m back. I survived my run with the shoulds and am excited to continue to share.