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.”

5 thoughts on “Coping

  1. Keep it up, try to stick to the waves of happiness 🙂 Guess it is part of grad school to have these ups and downs…. Good luck with your final experiments and writing your dissertation!!

  2. Hey Abby friend,

    Not to get too “new baby” on you, but something struck me as I read this.

    One of the things I was scared about when giving birth was the “ring of fire”- I’ll let you google it if you’re not familiar. And as it came to that moment in Noah’s birth, I remembered one thing that someone said in a forum. Yes, the ring of fire hurt like a mofo, someone said… But it could only last 30 seconds max. Then something would change, most likely the baby’s head would come out. “Anyone can handle 30 seconds of pain,” the commenter posted.

    And they were right. I barely remember it now.

    I think you can remember that your situation will only last so long at the current “pose”, so to speak… Soon, something will shift. Likely it will shift because of something external (the research is ready, etc)… But YOU always have the power to shift things yourself if you get to that point.

    Just a few middle-of-the-night thoughts… 🙂 xo

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