I think I've had a sort of "a-ha" moment this past week. Well, actually, I've had a few of them. I love making lists, so here they are:
1) Being in graduate school is really a job. Unfortunately, you are not getting paid for it, so it's really really hard to think about it as a job. But you are spending a large part of your day working. Let's look at the characteristics of a "job" outside the potential-for-pay aspect. It involves work. It involves stress. It involves deadlines. It involves minimizing distractions. It involves time management skills. It involves an occasional sinking feeling that you may not be able to finish your work by a certain deadline. On the flipside, it also involves a profound feeling of satisfaction when you do actually make that deadline and are rewarded for your efforts. Grad school is all of this. Except instead of getting paid for all of this work, you are actually paying the institution. Hmmm....that just doesn't seem right.
2) You are supposed to feel somewhat overwhelmed. Mentors and professors prefer to call it "being challenged" because it makes it sound like you are struggling for a logical reason. I had a nice conversation with my husband about this because over the past few weeks, I honestly feel like I can't possibly do everything that I am supposed to be doing with school work. And I am a full time student. I don't work. I just sit at home all day and do school stuff (oh, and think about what to write on this blog periodically). Seriously, how is it, I ask myself, that I actually feel swamped when I have nothing else but school work to do? My husband says that this is grad school....this is what it is like to work on your doctorate. It is all-consuming. It is overpowering. And it is sometimes a drag. I constantly have school on my mind. I get up in the morning and one of the first things I do is turn on my computer and log onto Blackboard. Talk about obsessed.
3) In a few months, I will be my own boss. I do wonder what it will be like when I finish my course work and move on to dissertation work. Right now, I have external deadlines from classes. I march to the beat of someone else's drum. What will happen when I have to create self-imposed deadlines?? I'm dreading it already. It's going to be like I'm self-employed and I'm not sure I have the discipline for that, yet! In a sense I can see why there are so many "ABDs" out there (ABD = All But Dissertation). It seems like it would be easy to "take a little break before one starts dissertation work" and then get lost back in the "real world."
So there are my "a-ha's." Or maybe they are "ho-hum's." Better yet, after re-reading it all, perhaps they just amount to bunch of "oh-no's."