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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Grad School Games

Next week is my last week of classes. Like ever. I have spent the last 18 years of my life going to class, and it is all about to end.

What's weird is that I haven't even really been thinking about this. It kind of hit me anew this week. I haven't gotten to slow down in anticipation of the finish line. I've been in high gear, and now I feel as though I'm neck and neck with anything and everything that could prevent me from getting my final research proposal approved and turned in for next semester.

My schooling has been pretty rigorous overall, so I guess it's fitting for my final week of classes to be a complete doozy. All of my mental and emotional energy at this point is being devoted to preparing for the committee meeting for my project proposal. I will dress up. I will bring baked goods for the faculty members. I will explain my research plans. And I will pray that I find favor with them or that they have mercy upon me or, you know, maybe just that I don't break down and cry in the conference room.

That meeting is Monday, and the final proposal is due Thursday, which gives me approximately two and a half days to make any necessary revisions. Though I wish I could devote those days solely to making revisions, I will have to split them among final projects — and the accompanying writing, meeting, data collection, and presentation prep — for three other classes.

Talk about going out with a bang.

I've got Haymitch's advice from the Hunger Games repeating in my head: Stay alive.

If I can just stay alive for the next seven days...
If I can just stay alive...

I finished typing all of this and then heard the little beep that tells me when a new email is in my inbox. This one was from my committee chair. "I think this meeting will go very well," she wrote. "See you Monday!"

I remember when getting a committee was what I was worried about. And I remember when finding a place to do the professional portion of my project was what I was worried about. I remember when picking a research topic was what I was worried about. I remember when writing my lit review was what I was worried about. And all of that has worked out so much better than I hoped it would. I need to stop worrying so much. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Grad School in GIF

1. Grad school year two is basically a mixture of sophomore slump and senioritis. Not a pretty combination. The newness has worn off. I'm realizing how much work is still ahead. I'm feeling burned out. And I just want to be done.

Tell me about it, Eeyore.

3. I just wrote 3 instead of 2. That is evidence of how tired I am.

Yeah, kinda like that. 

3. You know how I recently mentioned my newfound love of iced coffee? Well, I don't have a coffee maker at home, but I have perfected making iced coffee with instant coffee, and now I make it every day.

After I make iced coffee. 

4. All of this semester's classes have been major letdowns. I feel like I am working my tail off and learning nothing. The only thing I really care about is finishing my master's project proposal, but I have been devoting absolutely ridiculous amounts of time to other classes. Okay, primarily one other class. It is like the Dementor of classes, sucking out all of my joy and will to live.

I want to be like, EXPECTO PATRONUM, CLASSES.  

5. I just reread that last point and was struck by my own bitter tone. Despite my frustration and fed-up-ness with my classes this semester, I realize that I have it pretty good. I go to my dream grad school. I have people encouraging me left and right. I know that so many people have my back. Twice in the last week I have just sobbed in friends' arms. I point this out because it means I have friends in whose arms to sob. I don't want to forget to be grateful for that.

I am like: 

And my friends are like: 

6. Whenever I express excitement about finishing school, someone reminds me that I'll never have as much freedom as I do now. I'm not sure I believe this. I never have the sense of finishing work at the end of the day. I work from the time I wake up until the time that I go to sleep. I do not come home and turn my attention to other things. I come home and continue. Grad school is relentless.

This is your brain on grad school. 

7. The only way I've learned to take breaks without feeling guilty is to put social events on my calendar. I am completely incapable of relaxing alone when I have this much to do.

I could learn a thing or two from Honey Boo Boo. 

8. All of this is unhealthy, and I realize it. I feel like I don't have much of a say in the matter. I signed up for these classes. Drop/add is over. My only option is to keep going. Some nights I do go to bed before I have finished my tasks for the day. That is my only way of saying no these days.

Preach, Leslie.

9. Every once in a while the triviality of it all hits me. You know, Ecclesiastes-style.
"'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'"
If I didn't know better, I would think the first chapter of Ecclesiastes was written by a grad student.
"I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." 
(Hamster needs a haircut.) 

10.  Every once in a while, my love for the subject matter hits me, too, though. Everyone was freaking out about the Starbucks red holiday cups a couple of days ago, and I literally got shivers thinking about the way Starbucks presents itself as a brand so consistently and deliberately. I want to help brands be that way. And yesterday I was visiting an organization's website, and I got excited thinking about how much thought had gone into making it pretty and practical. These things remind me that I'm happy to be studying strategic communication even on days when I feel like I want to quit studying altogether.

People when they realize the holiday Starbucks cups are out.
Alternately: Me when I think about communications. 

11. I'm getting excited about the prospect of moving back to Kentucky after I graduate. It's hard to do life without family. I'm increasingly aware that other people have families here and I do not. In college I learned that America is considered the most individualistic country in the world. No other culture values "standing on your own two feet" as much as our culture does. In most countries, it would be unheard of for a 20-something girl to peace out of her community and move away on her own. On the one hand, I'm grateful that I live in a country in which that is possible. On the other hand, I think America values individualism too much. Living far from family, to put it bluntly, is stupid and the worst.

Even Thor needs his people. 

12. I still love being a T.A. It is the only part of grad school in which I feel like I know what I'm doing. It makes me feel like I have a purpose here beyond just my own coursework.

How I feel after a successful grading session. 

14. Speaking of grading, I don't know when it happened, but I have entirely stopped caring about my grades. As in STOPPED CARING. (I'm pretty sure that no one who knows me in real life is going to believe this.) It's not that they're bad and I've given up; it's that there's so much work that once something is turned in, I'm over it. Actually I'm usually over it before it's turned in. 

I give approximately zero bothers. 

13. I got an ocular migraine the other day, and it was so weird because I had blind spots. BLIND SPOTS, YOU GUYS. I COULDN'T SEE ALL THE WAY. I had to go to urgent care and everything because I didn't know what was going on. I bring this up now because I am having trouble reading this page, and that's what happened right before the blind spots came last time. I can look at the screen, but I can't focus on the screen. It is super weird.

Me when it happened. 

14. ON THAT NOTE I should probably stop blogging. I hope to post pictures soon from Katelyn's wedding and other goings-on. I am also trying to get my friends to do a round-table video blog, so that may be on its way if I can effectively peer pressure them into doing it.

15. I can't find a GIF for peer pressure that doesn't involve weed, so no GIF for you.

No soup for you either. 
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