Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Token Bad Day - A Grad Student's 24 Hours Of Terrible

I suppose a post like this would have been written sooner or later. I'm surprised I haven't been inclined to write a similar post earlier.

Anyway. Remember my post yesterday about how fantastic this week was going? Scratch that. With the risk of sounding like I have a split personality (I really don't!), today was the exact opposite yesterday. Weather-wise. And, well, everything-wise.

I've realized that this blog gives off a false impression of a graduate student's life. And for this, dear readers, I am sorry. Because here's the thing. Contrary to the impressions I've been giving off the past few months, the grad life isn't perpetually strewn with rainbows and unicorns. Butterflies, ponies, kitties, chocolate covered almonds. Also, side note: why is my blog so, so pink? Annoying. (You see? I told you. Bad day).

But here's my point. The grad life is not easy. It might seem like common sense, but I feel the need to finally, explicitly admit it on this blog.

I can't stress enough that graduate school can, at times, be difficult. I walked past a group of little girls (okay, they weren't little. But you know what I mean) chatting in Mackintosh-Corry's cafeteria today, scoffing at how "easy" grad school would be next year.

Um. Hey, little girls. News flash. It isn't.

The grad life isn't easy. While it is predominantly a rewarding, awesome, fantastic experience, it's also incredibly challenging to juggle all your responsibilities, all your tasks, all your work.

The grad life can be uncertain. It can be tense. It can be stressful. It challenges your mind, your will, your emotions, your heart.

There are some days when you walk out of your office, out the building, into the library, only to sink down into the closest seat you plant your eyes on. You slump down, you wonder how you'll get all your work done in such a short amount of time. You bury your face in your hands and wonder what, pray tell, you're even doing in grad school. You can't do this. This is too freaking hard. This is really really really hard. I can't write all this. I can't read all this. I can't do this. I can't deal with all of this. You can't make me. I'm not cut out for this.

And you don't want to burst into tears because, you know, you're a big strong adult and all. But that's exactly how you feel. You feel like crying from the stress, from potential disappointment, from the omnipresent workload that haunts your every step.

For those landing on my blog as you research grad school, I want to warn you that you might get days like this (I say 'might' just in case some of you have supernatural superpowers). Days when the workload is overwhelming. Days when you doubt your competence, your intelligence, your skills. Days where you clutch your hair and wonder why you entered academia.

I guess today was mine.

And there are some days when your future isn't as dependable as you thought. You realize that some dreams might stay just that. Pipe dreams you can no longer depend on.

And it's days like this that can sometimes bring you down. Where the only thing that can cure your funk is a good night's sleep or a relaxing evening watching your favourite TV shows.

I don't mean to paint a picture of grad school as an excruciatingly painful experience. It's not. Bad days happen. And I suppose tomorrow, I'll visit my blog and gaze in horror at the negativity exuding from this blog post.

But tomorrow's another day. I'll let Future Barbara throw a tantrum at herself for writing such a depressing blog post. Right now, I'll rest on the fact (as should all of you experiencing the token Bad Day) that bad days pass. This will, really, pass. Worries will eventually go away. And it makes us appreciate the better, not-so-stressful days more, yea?

"Be polite to all, but intimate with few."
- Thomas Jefferson

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little bit of each other everywhere."
- Tim McGraw