5 Things Graduate School Taught Me About Myself
By: Kendra Annette
When I hear graduate school the first word that comes to mind is stress. Better yet, hell may be a better word to replace the first. It has been a solid two years since I have been out of graduate school. As the thoughts resurface, the endless amount of writing, reading, group work, projects, exams, presentations and last minute shuffling to hand in assignments come to mind.
Graduate school is brutal and anyone who stands before its path will get sucked into its vortex. Depression was something I struggled with deeply in graduate school. At my worst, I felt the world closing in on me multiple times. I spent late nights Googling “graduate school depression” before going to class the next evening just to see if what I was feeling was real and not a figment of my imagination. In life the best thing we can do is connect with others who feel the way we do. What I found was very little support online, instead finding several articles confirming that graduate school depression was in fact a legitimate thing.
Since the end of my days as a graduate student, I have come to realize that graduate school through all its ups and downs did in fact teach me several lessons about who I am as a person. It is often said that through discomfort, we truly begin to grow.
Here are 5 Things Graduate School Taught Me About Myself:
1. I don’t give up easily
There were several times in graduate school when I wanted to quit. I was ready at several points to just throw in the towel, withdraw from my classes and kiss my professors goodbye. It took every fiber of my being to keep going. Now that I look back, the real reason I may have not wanted to continue is because I was studying a field that I knew I no longer wanted to even go into, yet I continued anyway and stuck it out. I did however reach an overwhelming part in the semester where everything was due at once (the dreaded end of the semester). One day, I panicked and cried my eyes out at my kitchen table at the amount of work I had to do. After that good cry however, something in me began to click. I was nearing the completion of the degree and I told myself if you’ve come this far you have to keep going. Since completing the masters I am proud that I did not throw in the towel and stuck with it.
2. I work better alone
In graduate school the majority of projects/classwork involved collaborating with my other classmates. While I am here for a good collaboration, the all too often turn and talk to your partner about the answers task became rather daunting. Usually, after the professor lectured for a good 20 minutes, group work would take up the rest of the hour. I often remember myself scowling at the idea of brainstorming with others because let’s face it I am a textbook introvert. Introverts work better inside their own heads versus talking their thoughts out loud. Extroverts on the other hand prefer the aforementioned method as opposed to working quietly in their heads to come up with ideas and solutions. There was a point where I grew extremely frustrated at the amount of turn and talk collaboration we had to do in class with our peers. At one point I thought of explaining to my professors that some of us are introverts and prefer to work alone, though I never did. In graduate school I forced myself to get through it, but till this day I prefer working independently as opposed to working in a group.
3. I’m pretty much own my own in life
Sounds a bit melancholy, I know, but graduate school helped me realize that I am really on my own in every sense of the word. When I first entered graduate school, I expected it to be just as fun and exciting as undergrad. Memories of ice-cream socials, guest speakers, gathering before class to chat with fellow classmates and laughing in the library while on the computer resurfaced my mind. However, grad school was just the opposite. My campus was small, cold, dull, quiet, and dead. There were no food socials, special events, or even times for interacting with my peers on a social basis other than the group class work we were required to do. This was a stark contrast to fun I had as an undergrad student. Life in grad school was essentially work and nothing more. Now that I look back, I guess that did prepare me for real life perhaps.
4. I am resilient
There were times where I would see assignments on the syllabus that seemed impossible to complete in the time frame allotted. At the end of the day, I got everything done. This not only showed me that I am resilient but also that the impossible is possible if you just take a step back and take things one day at a time.
5. I love learning
Even if I found one class less stimulating than the other in graduate school, I have a true joy for learning. There is power in empowering yourself through education. It may be a sad fact, but graduate school is where I learned how to use the Google Suite (Google Docs, Forms, etc.). My curiosity and creativity are my greatest assets and as a lifelong learner I revel in the fact that even though graduate school was long and arduous, it still propelled me to gain new insights and acquire knowledge I didn’t have before.
About author: Kendra Annette is a lifestyle blogger, freelance writer, avid yelper, wanderlust and personal development junkie. You can read more posts from her on her blog: www.KendraAnnette.com