Over the past week I started this blog post over and over in my head but I could not bring myself to start typing. I couldn’t bring myself to write down and publish the idea that I’m more than a little freaked out by all of the changes I’ve gone through recently. Everything came to a head yesterday though and while the exact circumstances are not overly important I will tell you that the event in question made me wonder about my choice to attend grad school. I questioned myself, my ability to succeed, and my personal motivations for picking up my life and moving to Halifax. Thankfully, even though most of my friends and none of my family live on the East Coast I was able to talk through my doubts, fears, and worries with several people.
I want to thank those people for picking up the phone. I want to thank them for distracting me, for loving me, and for believing in me even when I’m scared and lonely.
Yes, I’m scared. Yes, I’m lonely. I suppose I thought I’d avoid homesickness and nostalgia for my undergrad because grad school is cool. Grad school is new and exciting. However, there are things it’s missing, for instance, in my undergrad I had time. I never thought about how in my undergrad I had four years to get to know my classmates. Over those four years I made friends, lost friends, and found new friends. It took me four years to find those people who would stand by me when my mind is a hurricane. It took me four years to realize my mentors were the people I’d been intimidated by at first and then grew to admire. It took me four years to grow into the person I am today. It was not easy. It was not always pretty. My undergrad was full of feelings, fears, family, and friendship.
Somehow, over the summer I forgot about everything that led up to the me of today. Okay, well, maybe I didn’t forget about it but I shelved those experiences. I closed that chapter of my book. To use an analogy I told my mom the other day, everyone around me at Dal, with the exception of one person, is meeting Season 5 Sam. No one else was there for my character development throughout Season 1-4 of my university self. I enjoy the anonymity that meeting new people brings but since I’m only here for a year (at the moment anyway) it makes me a bit nervous. My goals for grad school are to: a) produce a thesis I’m proud of and b) to live my life. The latter means I want to make friends, I want to go running and get to know my new neighbourhood, I want to discover my new campus, I want to attend concerts, conferences, and cons. I want to fit all of that into this one year. It’s a little overwhelming because relationships take time to develop and at times it already feels like time is slipping away from me.
PhD applications are due soon(ish). Grant applications are due sooner. I’ve got presentations, essays, and classes to prep.
It’s scary to be on my own in this way. It’s exhilarating to be on my own in this way. What I’m learning, or reminding myself of, is that it’s going to be okay. It’s all going to be okay. It’s okay to be lonely in grad school. It sucks but it’s okay. It’s okay to be scared. It’s anxiety-inducing at times but it’ll be okay. It’s okay to feel out of your depth. Sometimes I have to stop myself from pinching myself when I’m sitting in a lecture hall because the lectern says ‘Dalhousie University’ and not ‘Carleton University.’ It still confuses me sometimes.
I miss the certainty of Carleton. I miss my bosses and my co-workers.
I miss my undergrad cohort (Shoutout to the HUMS CHUMS who’re killing it at school and in the “real world”)! I miss my professors and my mentors.
I miss the Discussion room, the Lecture Hall, and the Lounge.
I miss my sisters.
I miss the familiarity of Paterson Hall.
But, it’s okay that I miss people, places, and things.
Despite all of the fear and worry I really like Dal. My program feels like a good fit. My grad cohort is a dynamic group of individuals and I am excited to get to know them better. I am also looking forward to watching Season 5 Sam grow and develop.
I am going to be okay.
It’s going to be okay.