Graduate school has been on my bucket list for awhile, and as much as I thought I knew what to expect as I made my move in August, there was a lot more that I was left to learn:
1. It's like any other transition
Starting over is not an easy thing to do. No matter how well you mask your emotions, there is some degree of nervousness. But just like all of those other transitions you make, you own how you feel, you branch out, and you remember you're here for a reason. You just have to experience it to move past that first phase of anxiousness.
2. You are not the person sitting next to you
Just because you don't have 7 years of work experience, does it mean you don't deserve to be sitting in the seat you are in. Just because you are not fresh out of undergrad, does it mean you are not capable of handling the work and the projects thrown at you. Just because you're not a parent with more life experience, does it mean you do not have experiences and insight to offer. The beauty of graduate school is that everyone's experiences are so different, giving you more opportunities to learn and grow. Don't compare yourself.
3. Learning is still fun
You are going to school because you wanted to deepen your understanding of a subject that means the world to you, a concentration that will fuel your professional life down the road. Maybe I'm just a full blown nerd, but that's really exciting.
4. Homework still sucks
No matter how interesting the topics are, those 35 page readings and 15 page papers will still probably yield a sigh or an eye roll out of you. It's socially acceptable, don't worry.
5. You are not the only ambitious human being in the room
Long live the days of being one of the few go-getters, the one who seemed to find every opportunity to seize, and absolutely own it. Now you're in a room full of equally passionate human beings. You won't have all the answers, you may not get every job or assistantship you apply for, and you certainly won't be the only innovator on campus. But bring a group of those kind of people together, and the world will be a' changing.
6. The only person putting the weight of the world on your shoulders is you
News flash: things probably aren't as bad as you're making them seem. We tend to blow things out of proportion, put more pressure on ourselves than needed, and get discouraged when things aren't going exactly the way we anticipated. Spontaneity is a good thing and a linear path is BORING. Take a deep breath and understand that this bump in the road won't last forever. I promise you.
7. Undergrad is a totally different ball game
Yes, the workload is a lot, that's not even it. It's more so that maybe you don't live right on campus, you have a bigger commute to class, your hundreds of friends are not right within a five minute radius of you, and starting from square one is a tad more intimidating when every human in your cohort is a different age or coming from a very different previous experience. All those stressful undergrad moments don't seem as stressful as they used to be, and you'll miss those four years, but you know it prepped you well to be where you're at.
8. Me time is a beautiful thing
Self care is important. Take whatever measures you need to take care of yourself. It's okay to not be involved with everything; time alone is a wonderful thing.
9. You feel really lucky to be standing in the shoes you're in
You know not everyone gets this opportunity. You know you're doing this for yourself. You know you're carving an incredible path for your future. No matter the workload, hours of studying, or duration of time to complete your degree, don't wish it away. It's another hallmark experience you're living.