I sat down to write this post-first-year-of-grad-school reflection on multiple instances, but each time I was distracted by a whirlwind of graduation parties, Netflix shows calling my name, sunny day outings, and figuring out what to do with all of this “free time” I suddenly had come upon.
So here I am, with fifteen minutes left in my lovely 4-hour summer work day, I found this a highly appropriate time to pause and take a moment to figure out what this past year has meant for me:
While talking on the phone with a friend in the program the other day, I reaffirmed for myself three things: 1) I am surrounded by incredible people, 2) I have more people to call friends than I give them credit for, and 3) I have truly started to figure myself out.
I’ll start with that third one… When I moved here to start my grad program, I had only just begun to start conceptualizing what my identity as a professional even looks like on me. I have discovered that it looks basically like what I have been doing, just more on top of due dates and showing up on time to meetings. I have chosen to try and figure out a plan for a professional identity that doesn’t sacrifice my spirit for learning from mistakes, for wanting to bring enthusiasm to a job, and for desiring to be around only those who love their job (or at least can love it most of the time). Most importantly I do not ever want to show up to an interview and appear to be something that I cannot maintain over a long period of time. I’d probably get fired really fast if I acted like I was some on-top-of-it-all 24-7, organized student affairs professional with a lot of practical experience. As of right now, I am only those things some of the time. I’m working on that last one, but as of right now, I can totally sell each of my semester long internships (shout-out to IUPUI Housing & ResLife, UVM Residential Education Team, and Champlain College’s LEAD Program).
As for the feeling of interpersonal connectedness that I felt I was so wholly missing last semester, it has since begun to manifest. Slowly but surely I have a small, but sturdy, network of people that I have grown to trust here at UVM. I keep coming into new places believing what people have told me my whole life: that I am a social person, a stereotypic extrovert through and through, a people-person. While all this is true, I tend to forget to take care of myself while trying to be that “always-on” person.
What I have learned from this experience so far is that I need to go for a few hard workouts every week. I need to drink a lot of water. I need to embrace my disdain for large group functions. And I need to take more bubble baths.
The month that I took at least 2 bubble baths a week was a game-changer. It is the only time of day where I can guarantee that I won’t be worrying about school, money, or my job expectations. And that’s HUGE. Especially for a grad student.
Two things have happened that will make some of those worries a little bit easier to handle this coming year.
1. I got a job with one of the sororities on campus to be a House Director. In short, I live-in (fo’ free) and handle their food budget (grocery shopping) and any facility issues (don’t drink in my house or break anything!).
2. I have “done this” already. I survived year one of graduate school and am this much closer to being allowed to work on college campuses (and get paid well for it) forever. Or for however long I can handle 18-24 year-olds.
So all in all, despite the hours I spent on literature reviews, reading theories, and plowing through textbooks, and despite the gallons of tears I cried, and the days spent moping, I learned so much about how to keep happy and take care of myself, rather than always putting others first.
I will always have a place for acknowledgments in my life, but I can’t let someone else write my own story.