The other day I was having lunch with a fellow PhD student. We have the same advisor, who had told us at the beginning of the year that it’s normal to feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes you’ll feel excited about your research, then you’ll feel like you can’t handle it anymore. My friend and I commented how true that had turned out to be for us this past year, and how absolutely draining it is. But on the other hand, it’s kind of funny to look back and realize how up and down it was on a regular basis. The plus of it being so regular was that during the lows, I was able to remember that I would feel better again at some point… and sooner rather than later. Like in a few hours. Or tomorrow. Or next week at the latest. Like that saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.”
I am sure if Dante wrote his Divine Comedy now, graduate school would constitute its own level of hell. With separate sub-strata within the Greater Grad School Level of Hell distinguishing between masters and doctoral stress. But I digress…
Doctoral studies seem to be a series of emotional highs and lows profound enough to make me wonder if I’ve unwittingly developed a cocaine habit. And then I have to remind myself that it’s merely a side-effect of the PhD.
If I were to write down the thoughts that run through my mind each day, it would look something along these lines:
-I used to like the morning. But I don’t want to get up and face all the things I have to do today…
-Class is going well. I love being surrounded by nerds who have a good sense of humour.
-ohmygosh they are all participating better than me in this discussion. They probably think I’m an idiot.
-Why can’t I understand this topic? I shouldn’t be in grad school.
-I can’t do this! I can’t do this! I.CAN’T.DO.THIS!!!!!! [commence crying in my office]
-I can totally do this! I have the most awesome friends and having lunch with them is the best therapy session ever. I love my life and I love being in grad school [commence reveling in warm, fuzzy feelings]
-My life is going nowhere… I hate this.
-PhD Land is so cool, it’s like I’m in nerd heaven or something…