This week closes my first semester of graduate school. Man, that went fast. For the first time in my academic career, I am relishing the opportunity to stuff knowledge into my brain. I’ve started fantasizing about future research I might do and classes I might take, which is not at all like my former study-averse self.
1. You’re capable of adjusting to anything: I started this semester with frightened wobbly baby deer legs. I wasn’t sure that I could keep up the pace of working full-time and school part-time. Those 14+ hour days seemed breakneck. I was worried I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to do it all. After a few weeks, it became routine. I even found space in my schedule to join committees. That’s not to say there aren’t sacrifices. My social life/desire to go out on the weekends has steadily declined, but I’m building something here and the bar will still be open when I get to the other side of it.
2. No one is going to advocate for you but you; go grab your opportunities: That perfect opportunity, that job, that book you want to publish, that person you want to meet, that really excellent taco, it’s not just going to come to you while you wait. Pursue it, ask the questions, go out into the world, and advocate for yourself.
3. It’s okay to tell people what you need: This could be the fact that sometimes you study best alone. Or that you can’t make the office holiday party, because you have a final tomorrow and your grades are more important than forced fun. It could be that, sometimes, life feels way too hard and you’re feeling a little lonely and you just need some human contact and damn it, hug me. When stretched thin, you are going to lose your mind (just a little) and vocalizing your needs is vital, even if you feel selfish for doing it.
4. There is great joy in nerding out with other nerds: A few years ago, I visited a best friend in London and met her significant other and his group of close friends. They had met in a chat forum for people who like trains. We went to a pub and they talked about railway museums they had gone to and praised one guy’s book of tube maps that had recently been published. I remember marveling at how cool it was that these train enthusiasts found each other and bonded over this shared love. I’m studying to continue pursuing public service, surrounded by people who want to do some good and it is just the coolest.
5. Plot your exit ramps: If there is something in your life you dislike, stop doing it. (Not paying taxes or washing yourself. Keep doing those things, for all of our sakes.) If you are unhappy at a job or a living situation or a friendship or a relationship, gtfo. I don’t mean just drop everything and run. Take a look at your highway of life and plan the best exit ramps for you. (No AC/DC jokes, please.) Does it make sense to wait out the end of your lease and move? Should you set a savings target and then quit your job? Make those plans and make a move.
In two weeks, I’ll be kicking off 2018 by traveling to Cuba and learning everything I can while I’m there. Grab life by the horns, my friends! (But seriously, if you have travel tips for Cuba, let me know!)