Staring at the empty page of my computer screen, I come to the disheartening realization that I have no clue whatsoever what I am supposed to do.
I now understand why everyone says grad school is so hard. It has nothing to do with the difficulty of the courses or the amount of work to be done. Well, maybe not nothing; the work is somewhat more challenging than undergrad course work, but this makes up only a small facet of the strenuosity of grad school.
Why, then, is grad school so hard? Because your state of life has changed. When you are an undergraduate, you are still in the process of becoming an adult. No matter how much you think you are an adult as a freshman or sophomore, if you’re jobless, living in the dorms, and your biggest concern in life is making sure you get papers turned in on time, you’re not fully an adult yet. Your life is centered around classes, friends, assignments, having fun, dorm life, and the experience – which is much the same as high school. Somewhere between walking across the stage and walking into your first grad class, however, a shift occurs. It’s hard to pin down exactly when it happens, but it does. You get a job, move into an apartment, buy some furniture, stock your pantry, and realize that there is a whole world out there entirely independent of and separate from school. You wake up one morning and realize (while staring into your closet full of professional attire, perhaps?) that you are undeniably and irrevocably an adult. You’re not quite sure when it happened, but you know it is true and you know you cannot go back.
Your focus in life shifts school to everything else. And that everything else is pretty great. Your time belongs to you, fully and truly, for the first time.
Then grad school starts.
And your life falls into chaos.
You have to learn how to fit time for all the crazy amounts of reading and writing and everything else into your already full life. No, you can’t go see that new movie this weekend; no, you can’t leave town for the weekend to see family; no, you can’t redecorate your apartment; no, you can’t deep clean your apartment; no, you can’t read the pile of books you just bought. Why? Because you have homework. Have a significant other? I hope you don’t like spending time with him/her, because you won’t be able to.
Grad school is hard because it strips away everything you love about your life and leaves you as a stressed-out giant squid of anger.