You know, I often write about the struggles I face as a doc student, in part because I hope the someone considering grad school will stumble across the blog and go into it with their eyes wide open. Plus, its cathartic to put my story into the internet abyss. But there are also periods of sunshine and rainbows that remind me of why I continue to put myself through the other stuff. Like right now - things are just coming up me. :)
After a killer spring semester and a week of much-needed rest, I finally worked up the nerve to look at my grades. I'll be the first one to spout the "grades don't matter" line, in part because I've believed that most of my life (and I have the undergrad GPA to prove it), but also because I get that a) there are no more school applications to worry about, and b) I'm learning to generate knowledge rather than report it. And yet, it still felt pretty great to see almost all Hs (on the H - high pass, P - pass, L - low pass system my grad school runs) for the semester. I felt validated for the level of exhaustion I was feeling at the end there and like I might actually be able to approach thriving some day.
Then I get an email saying my Letter to the Editor was accepted for publication in the journal I plan on submitting my inaugural first-author manuscript. I strategically submitted to that journal in hopes improving the chances of the still-under-way manuscript being accepted. Plus, I now get to cite myself when writing this article and, really, isn't that the dream?
THEN I get asked to do a sex ed 101 session with some undergrads working on an arts-based intervention I have been involved with off and on for a few years and with which I am moderately obsessed. It was one of the most fun things I've done in a while and reminded me of why I keep saying I want to teach. Plus, it looks like I'm going to get even more involved in the project because fun+research=yessssssss.
NOW I've just gotten word that I was accepted into a summer short course on multilevel models and multidimensional approaches to immigrant health. Plus travel stipend. Why yes, yes I will go to Ann Arbor for a week to get access to national datasets and learn some stuff from leaders in the field from across the country. And you fit in perfectly with both my dissertation ideas and all the things I discussed with my progress review committee this past week? Well. If you insist.
I did it - I have successfully finished one year of doctoral study! Let me tell you, those last couple of weeks there were just a question of trying to survive... Survival included no days off from spring break until the end of finals and my first ever migraine. Clearly, I'm getting that this whole doctoral training thing is not for the faint of heart (or brain).
I took all of last week off to recover and seriously needed every bit of it. I couldn't handle listening to music for a few weeks there and haven't had coffee in almost a month (with the exception of that ill-fated migraine day). There was so much I was trying to synthesize and so much that needed to be accomplished in a small period of time, that I couldn't take any additional stimulation. Hell, the last day of finals, I ended up walking halfway across campus because I didn't know what to do with myself and then working out for a while before I could even take the nap I desperately needed. This is actually the first time I'm writing anything more complicated than a text message since finals ended.
I was tired.
It wasn't until I started dreaming again a couple of nights ago that it occurred to me that I'd stopped doing even that. My brain was fried and I hope not to go back to that again. Part of it is my own fault - I turned one of my final papers into a draft of a dissertation prospectus that I was certainly not ready to write but did anyway. It's not unhelpful - I have my progress review meeting this week and plan on talking to the committee about my initial dissertation thoughts to see if I'm heading in the right direction.
This is the first day I'm daring to get any work done and my poor little still-singed brain isn't super happy about this post, much less all the other things I will have to work on soon (like a grant application, a manuscript, and who knows what else at work when I make my way back into the office).
It'll be like this for a while, I get that. I also get that rest is important. But as I make my way through this post, I'm also wondering how I'm going to do this summer. We've taken someone already biased toward action and put me on a steady diet of intellectual speed and academic angst.
And still, I'm plotting the books I'll read this summer once my brain is up to it, including what I'll reward myself with if I make it through the books I already own. I might be hooked...