I'm currently sitting in a building on campus that clearly used to be a church for Writing Wednesday, a weekly chunk of designated space and time offered specifically for graduate students to sit down and get work done (think manuscript or dissertation writing). This sacred time alone is invaluable for busy students like myself that struggle to just take care of basic life needs but are still trying to be productive students and scholars. Plus they have K-cups out the wazoo and BREAKFAST. Its offered by the Initiative for Minority Excellence here at school, so unsurprisingly, there are a lot of people of color that attend. Also unsurprising is the fact that most people know each other since there frankly just aren't THAT many PhD students at this school.
So that's where I'm sitting this lovely morning, having enjoyed a lovely jalapeño cream cheese bagel that makes my heart happy and trying to balance the exhaustion-induced desire for coffee with the anxiety-driven need to limit my caffeine intake. I swear, between coffee needs and finding the right kind of music to fit the work I'm doing, its like a constant game of self-medicating chemistry.
I was aimlessly looking around the room just a few moments ago in that way you do sometimes when you're trying to figure out how to phrase something you're writing when it occurred to me that PhD students have some very predictable patterns of behavior, myself included. To start, there's the typical white earbud/laptop work combo (plus points if they're both Apple products) clearly indicative of someone making many thoughts. Caffeine of some kind is almost a necessity, which is banal in how un-insightful an observation that is... But then there's also the pen case of different colored pens and highlighters for color-coding all the thoughts. Many also have a planner because what kind of student would you be if you didn't have a stupid amount of deadlines to constantly have to juggle? Mine is a very casual school, so most people are wearing at least one piece of athleisure wear (sneakers, anything with moisture-wicking spandex, a FitBit type thing because who doesn't keep track of their heart rate and steps constantly these days?, and potentially something involving fleece).
This leads me to the thesis of this post - we all really do just have similar ways of being and for all that we pride ourselves in our original scholarship and innovative thinking, we're products of our shared environment and being in a college town means that its EVERYWHERE. Classes, laptops in coffee shops, books and notebooks, and largely muted colors so you can focus on your oh so important smart thoughts because who has time to think about such banal things as style when you're busy trying to change the way people think about something?
I find this mildly entertaining but also a little sad. I'm one of these people. I love the stretchy pants I'm wearing right now and have a stupid number of gadgets all dedicated to maximizing my intake of information, my generation of knowledge, and my productivity in the academy.
I'm a PhD student.
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