I’ve started blog posts over this past month, but haven’t really felt motivated to write here. Grad school is just really hard. Especially my mode of doing it, which has been to act for the first few years as though it was never going to end and I would just have forever to get my stuff done. URGENCY is a part of my life now based on funding in the lab, a mentoring change (sort of, my boss just realized that he has two sixth year students), and the general desire to just be finished with this phase of my life. I happily skated through years two through four working in lab enough to keep up with my boss’s somewhat lackadaisical oversight (translation: a medium-low amount) and doing lots of teaching and mentoring, which takes up as much time as you let it (I let it take up a lot of time).
The new URGENCY has been positive in many ways: I am at my most productive ever, the beginnings of the story that I had this summer look better as I surround them with more data, and on good days I feel smart and sure of the PhD. On bad days or when experiments fail or don’t show the expected result, the URGENCY turns to panic that I will never publish a paper, have permission to write my dissertation, or be done. The URGENCY also comes with guilt (why was I such a slacker before?), bitterness, and sometimes despair, which looks like me (a crier) sobbing at my desk, to my labmates, to my friends and family.
Everything comes in waves, which is comfort in itself. Waves of happiness and pride follow waves of gloom and doom, over and over. Even on the worst days, I remember that there are always more waves and I keep going. Right now I’m just functioning below my average in terms of my ability to be/feel social, friendly, and fun. What I am doing is coping. As Pema Chödrön says, I am “letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”