This Will Be Hard

Since I’m a few months from finishing, I’m feeling reflective.

No one really told me how hard the process of grad school would be. Sure, they said it would be a lot of work and stress and no money. One of my M.A. professors said if I made it through my doctoral work without getting drunk that he would be shocked (Dr. T., now’s the time to be shocked). But no one sat me down and told me how emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically difficult it would be.

How my confidence would take a hit every time someone questioned the relevance of my research. How my relationships would change because of the workload. How I would rarely have a good night’s sleep because of anxiety. How many times I’d want to quit. How many times I’d wonder why I ever chose to do this in the first place. How I’d feel that everyone was making unreasonable demands of me. How I’d feel terribly unqualified for each next step. How everyone would count on me to finish. How few people would truly understand. How my faith would reel. How humiliated I’d feel with even the smallest failures. How many times I’d have to change my plans and timelines. How I’d compare myself to every other scholar and feel worthless. How there’s still a lot of sexism in this field. How impossible it would seem to get a job. How it would complicate my marriage. How my mind would play tricks on me. How it would affect my health. How the lack of money would affect my pride. How big everything would feel – all the time.

So I’m telling you it will be hard. If you are somehow immune from any of these feelings, then OK, but I think we all feel some version of them at some point. The trick is to be really honest about them and not pretend they don’t exist.

I’ll post later on all the ways grad school is wonderful and why I wouldn’t trade the experience. But right now I want to bask in the difficulty. Because “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts…” (Romans 3:3-5, TNIV)

My dad asked me a few days ago if I had any regrets. I told him no. He asked if I’d do it again. I told him yes. And I meant it.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Academic Anecdotes, Life of the Mind

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