For some people this may be extremely premature; but for me it's better to get ahead of the problem before it festers into something ugly. Writing this post has proven to be very therapeutic, so hopefully it can help someone going through the same thing.
Graduate school is challenging (and that my friend, is an understatement). They say that if your dreams don't scare you; then you aren't dreaming big enough. Well I am TERRIFIED! This week in the middle of class, I was struck with an analogy that I thought I'd share with my readers.
Note: It's about to get super nerdy...so I won't be offended if you skip over the next paragraph.
When a woman gives birth, it is one of the most beautiful and excruciating experiences in her life. Let's talk about Oxytocin, a powerful hormone (otherwise referred to as "the love hormone") is made in the hypothalamus and stored there until the pituitary gland releases it into the bloodstream. When released the uterus contracts, causing labor contractions and the eventual and painful birth of a beautiful baby. Oxytocin also plays a role in maternal-infant bonding and the development of a mother's love. From what I've heard, during childbirth women are known to scream obscenities and that they will never do this again....until their baby is born and oxytocin gets to work.
In the interest of time, I'll get to the point. Although women know childbirth is painful, the strong bond with their baby causes them to desire more children in the future. Well that's how graduate school is for me. While working towards my Masters' degree, I was literally miserable for the first year because it was so hard and frankly I was scared that I would fail. However, when I received that degree, the blood, sweat and TEARS was all worth it. I was so taken by my accomplishment that I immediately wanted to find another program to enter; this time medical school.
Twenty-one years ago on the playground of Clover Street Elementary School (while tending to my best friend's busted knee) I decided that I was going to grow up to be a Medical Doctor (MD). After my senior year in college, I had been thrown off this path when I didn't pass the Medical School Admission Test; so I refused to get rejected again now that I was equipped with a Masters' degree! Boy was I wrong.
⏩ Fast forward to this year: Many years and tears later (if you can't tell by now I cry a lot to release emotion lol) after receiving my first professorial position; I finally decided that my 21 year old dream was over. I realized that I wanted to be a doctor for all the wrong reasons, the number one being MULAAAA. However, this was just a dream deferred. My newfound love of teaching fostered a new and improved dream; I decided to get my PhD in Cancer Biology. I figured if my heart was no longer invested in becoming an MD, I would become a PhD and teach the next generation of doctors.
Back to the true purpose of this blog post. I have officially completed the first month of my PhD program. While I'm excited to reach the finish line (yes I'm already thinking about graduation), I need to build up the strength I'll need to get through the next FOUR YEARS! I have already put some things into practice, so here are a few tips that may help you get through tough times when you would love nothing more than to just throw in the towel:
Take a freakin' chill pill!!
Of course, you're going to experience a bit of stress, but don't be overwhelmed. Whether it be getting that new job, passing a test or receiving outstanding marks on a 10-page paper; what is to be, will be. Put your best foot forward, keep calm, carry on, and what do ya gotta do. When it turns out for the best, you'll be glad that you popped that chill pill.
Don't be a Quitter.
Simply put, quitting is for losers. You're not a loser are you?! If something isn't working out the way you thought..make changes..alter the dream to make it bigger and better; but DON'T GIVE UP.
In the words of Nike, Just Do It.
Netflix & Chill..
Step back, have a YOUday and binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. Don't look at as being lazy..it's just a self care day.
Remember: To whom much is given, much is required. No matter how long it may take, you are capable of achieving your goals. If you're a graduate student, we're all in this together. If you're simply chasing a dream, let's all run together and finish this race. You can win; scratch that...YOU'RE GOING TO WIN!