How to manage grad school, a part-time job (or jobS), a relationship (or a family) and not to go crazy? If you’ve been to grad school for over 6 month you have probably figured out that it’s a rhetorical question. However, we c
an always brainstorm strategies to “Keep calm and ______”.
The next question is HOW do we keep calm?
1. Put it in perspective
We might be constantly broke, criticized for our life choices or academic performance, etc., etc., etc BUT most of us have a roof above our head, we are not starving, not terminally ill… Hence, we can’t complain TOO much.
Of course there are tons of things that we can complain about such as problems within academia, complicated family dynamics, other less-than-perfect living arrangements, and we continue this list forever. However, it’s OUR choice which list we’ll focus on: the list of complaints, or the list of blessings.
2. Focus on the list of blessings instead on the list of complaints
Of course, a good complaint session might be therapeutic once in a while, however, it’s in our best interest to focus on the list of our blessings and make it as lengthy as possible.
Think your life sucks? Watch The Theory of Everything (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUayjO_KgsQ), or Leviath ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpawdA34HNk )
… still think your life sucks as much as the main characters’?
3. Life is more than just grad school
That’s the hardest one to keep in mind at times. We get so immersed in our research or just everyday motions and routines of reading, going to seminars, keeping up with employment, etc, that it is difficult to forget that our personalities are not confined within our theses. Have you ever had a hobby? Who did you want to become as a kid? What did you friend and relatives think you’ll become? Where is your favorite spot in the city? When was the last time you tasted your favorite ice cream? Our personalities are somplex and we have so many roles (students, children of our parents, partners, parents, etc). It is true that we might have chosen the role of a ‘graduate student’ to be the main one at this time, but it is TEMPORARY.
Grad school is not a permanent state of being (although most of the time it feels like one), and if things become unbearable, it’s a great point to keep in mind.
4. Grad school is TEMPORARY, but this fact should not be a panic-trigger
Most of us are worried about employment after obtaining our degree, and we should definitely work towards obtaining experience and keeping our ears and eyes open for relevant possibilities. However, even if you are not 100% sure what kind of employment you wish to take up after graduation, it should not trigger a panic-attack while you are still working on your thesis.
Imagine that you went for a hike up a mountain. The higher you are getting, the more you can see. Similarly, with your graduate studies: the more you know and the more experience you get, the better is your ‘view’ of other possibilities. You are NOT a horse. You don’t have to wear blinkers or follow a stricter-than-necessary route.
4.5 But really, what all of us need at times to keep calm is a nice friendly hug, so walk over to the nearest human and exchange hugs (if socially acceptable, of course 😉 )