I realize I spend a lot of time talking about my status as a divorcee, but I rarely talk about the other things that I am (i.e. a graduate student in the humanities). Yes, I am one of those very dedicated, smart individuals who has chosen a career path in academia, pause, and not just any old field of academia I would add…English Literature (emphasis on the Literature portion). You see, let me explain, Literature is one of those funny fields of study…funny in that you spend countless hours, reading countless books (thousands of pages really), and you probably will never obtain any sort of job that will help you to pay back your countless student loans. True story.
I’ll add though, I can’t say that I am at all disappointed in my choice to pursue an advanced education in English Literature and Composition studies. I do believe it is one of the most holistic educational experiences one can have, and when I look at others who have graduated from similar programs (albeit different disciplines) I realize the stark contrast in our educational experiences and rigor. English is tough, it’s tough based upon the sheer amount of reading one must do (literally thousands of pages per week) and not only do you have to bank those pages but you also have to comprehend just what’s going on within the plotline and with the applied theoretical approach. However, all of that said, you gain a greater appreciation of the world, humanity, and the experiences/perspectives that accompany the aforementioned. The discipline of Literature really speaks to a greater understanding of the diverse nature that is our world. I’m just struggling now with how to contextualize the aforementioned into an appropriate, lucrative career path that will support my loan repayment in particular. I hope you can sense my optimism here. Smiles.
Today though, I was thinking about the ways in which grad school has changed me especially as I approach the end of this particular educational endeavor. I realized that I no longer take showers for enjoyment. You see, as a grad student (single mother probably adds to this) you get so used to having so much nightly work that taking a shower becomes an unwanted task. It’s a get in and get out approach. I used to love the shower when younger; I would stay in there for a full hour if possible. Now, my body won’t even allow me to do this. It just WANTS OUT. Move on whit, you’ve got work to do!
Interestingly grad school has also lent to my extreme obsession over books, so much so that I take pride in all of those that I own. This is why I have a wall-to-wall bookshelf filled to the brim with them (I’ll be adding 45 new novels next semester (one’s I’ll need for my comprehensive exam). Because I am slightly OCD, I have them arranged by height and width. It’s obsessive but I pride myself on having read them all.
Finally, grad school has turned me into an anxiety-ridden freak (thank god this blog is anony). This isn’t really an isolated phenomenon though. In fact, I work in an office of about twelve colleagues that teach within the Department (myself included) and of the twelve I would say…twelve are on the same anxiety meds. I heard a couple of em’ swapping meds the other day (don’t know if this is legal). I’m convinced that we’re not crazy, we’re just driven right?
So, an abhorrence for showers, book obsessions, and crazy pills…this is what grad school (in the humanities) perpetuates. I’m proud to say that I’ve learned to control my bouts of anxiety (which typically center around my attempt to be perfect in situations where perfection does not exist) through the adoption of an “I don’t care attitude.” Seems to be working quite well so far, although I’m judged by some. This is another thing about grad school, it’s a political environment, one wherein there are certain expectations, ways of doing things, and definitely grad student no-no’s (not trying to be perfect is a no-no). However, I’ve learned that life is for living and not for being perfect. It’s for loving things beyond the halls of the English Department (although I do love these halls and they’ve given me much over the years I’ve walked them). If you can’t find balance then you’re probably the best grad student (and the most unbalanced human being). It’s taken me up until my last semester of graduate school to decide to stray from this.
I’m beginning to love showers again, although I’m realizing this is a gradual process. I do like having clean hair on a daily basis, though. Smelling good is nice too.
I don’t know how many more books I’ll be collecting come my graduation in December. I do know that my bookshelf will begin to adorn non-classical works–and that’s OK.
Just in case you’re a perfection-seeking grad student in the humanities–anything that ends in the suffix “azepam” should be of help to you. I suggest the balanced thing though, having tried both I find it a much better course of action. You don’t want to graduate a masters holding drug addict and/or chain smoker bordering on lung cancer.
(This pic speaks well to my shower commentary. I never had so many days of greasy hair as I’ve had in the past three years. Apology in advance to any of those who experienced me on a day wherein I didn’t have time to take a shower (for a few days in a row) and/or I forgot to wear deodorant. I know it happened, more than once.