Tag Archives: pep talk

A Good Reminder

Today was one of those days that cements in my mind, at least temporarily, why I am lucky to be in graduate school.

It began like any other day in Seattle: woke up to a grey sky, I gave myself extra time in the morning to do the crossword puzzle, because, after all, it is Tuesday, so I had a fighting chance. I made myself breakfast and enjoyed a cup of tea. I contemplated biking or taking the bus, and given the doom and gloom forecast for 8-10 inches of snow, I took the bus. (As an aside, there has been no snow accumulation today, at this point. What a crock). I got to school, had a somewhat frenetic teaching session, and then settled into a routine of meetings, chatting, and dilly-dallying.

And then I met with my adviser about my thesis for the first time in about 2 months, and everything magically got great.

I had feared that this meeting would go poorly. I had rather quickly put together an outline of my thesis, with some of my main literatures and key points. I felt tepid about it, prepared for the worst. I expected a meeting of deep questions, “why this, here?”, “what do you mean by ‘deserving youth’?”, “are you sure you’re citing the right people when you discuss neoliberalization?” But all of this was for naught. We had an incredibly productive and validating meeting. My adviser was (to me, at least) shockingly supportive of the direction I was heading, and impressed by how ‘together’ my thoughts have already become.

So we chatted about deadlines and timelines and goals, and moved onto my upcoming AAG presentation, pausing briefly to discuss funding woes and grant cycles, etc, etc.  Of course there was the requisite talk of cats, cycling and teaching. Always a good break. And then some surprising, though unofficial, good news, to which I will write more freely once it is ‘official’.

All of this is to say that I left my meeting reminded of why I am in graduate school, and why I love being a scholar. All of the doubt and fear I had that I was missing the mark, overlooking some enormous gap, or just plain ‘wrong’, not only evaporated, but was dislodged so entirely that I feel I might go *gasp* a whole week (!) without those thoughts again.

For, not only am I just ‘on the right track’, but apparently the natural steps that I laid out for myself, my natural work cycle and thought progression, my inclination towards scholarship and goal setting and time management and organization… it is all working.

Let me pause for a second, lest it seem I am merely tooting my own horn. That is not what I am writing about. Rather, I need to record the sense of confidence and sincere lack of doubt I have at this moment. These moments are so, so, so very rare in graduate school that I need to have this feeling in writing, so that I can come back to this on the other 360 days when things are just crap; when there is no validation; when I am filled with doubt; when I wonder why I forsook my friends and family across the country to move to grey and expensive Seattle; when finding a healthy balance between work and life is exhausting at best, and impossible at worst; when the graduate student life is demanding without appropriate compensation; when I feel completely isolated from the amazing intellectualism of many of my peers; when I’m not connecting with my students; when I look at my savings account and ::sigh::.

That is to say: this life, while it has its moments, is a difficult one. But I am getting paid (though that is a sore subject in and of itself), I get to teach, I get to meet with two of the most incredible women faculty that I’ve ever met, I get to meet amazing colleagues and friends, I get to present my work at conferences, I get to read all day if I want to, I get to have a perfectly reasonable excuse to go home on a Friday night after happy hour and just knit! So, for those times when all of that good is eclipsed by all of the other tough, crunchy, gritty and anxiety producing ‘stuff’, I hope I can come back to this moment, when I felt so completely sure of myself, and, truly, on top of the world.