Saturday, October 23, 2010 Company. I think you two would like each other.

So much has happened since I last wrote, but, yet, so little. The euphoria I experienced upon arriving in West Lafayette has long since evaporated and been replaced by little sprouting seeds of doubt. The semester is half over, and already I am tempted to call this journey done. I have been told on multiple occasions at this point that I am “supposed” to feel this way and that there are “many” others out there that feel the same as I. In all honesty, how does that help me? How does knowing that there are other graduate students out there that are just as miserable as me make me feel better? From that perspective, it actually makes me feel quite a bit worse.

I’m going to employ a tactic relatively unknown in this country and speak the truth. I know – it’s shocking. I beg you to read on, and to ignore the fear that that 5 letter word incites in you. I would like to be open and honest about how graduate school is affecting me for many reasons, the chief of which being that I feel that my peers are not being honest with anyone – including themselves. I also believe that if this blog is truly to be used to help anyone out there, even just one person, that I need to be honest about everything. So here goes…

I am doing very poorly in my courses. Some days, I can barely make sense of the articles I have to read for lab. Some days, my spirit is too defeated to even care. There have been days where I felt that I was not smart enough to be here. Not smart enough to contribute anything of note to intellectual discussions regarding lab experiments or legitimate scientific articles read for class. And I wonder, how in the hell did you make it out of undergrad? In addition to that, I wonder why the hell my undergraduate professors are even allowed to call themselves teachers. (Well most, not all.)

I am lonely. I miss my family so much sometimes just hearing a sad musical note in a song brings on the waterworks. I went home to visit my boyfriend and our friends in early October. I am sure I had what my boyfriend would classify as a nervous breakdown, and it was an internal struggle to put myself on the plane to return to what I now adamantly refer to as “Hell.” I’ve already written about the diversity in my program, but my loneliness is the result of more than just that. Are there no scientists that read poetry or science fiction? I’ll even take someone that’s read ANY classic novel and be happy with that. Is there anyone for me to talk politics and/or race relations with? Someone that likes to travel? That likes beaches? So far, the answer is a reverberatingly loud and emphatic – NO.

I am told that this is how I’m supposed to feel. That I am a first year graduate student and that’s just “how it is” during the first year. It seems to me that the status quo is not sufficient, to say the least. But, I am here. If they didn’t think I was capable of handling this program, they wouldn’t have extended an invitation to me to become one of the elite Boilermakers. So, at the end of the day, I have to remember and remind myself of that. I have to take the drive and initiative that I displayed in undergrad and double it. I have to lean on the shoulders that are offered to me, and take help wherever I can get it.

I’m sorry that I don’t have a better or more inspirational message for you, dear readers, but this is me being open and honest about my state of mind at present. Right now, there isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel. But maybe when I wake up tomorrow there will be. Graduate school is not easy, nor did I think it would be, but it is up to me and only me to maintain my status here and recognize that the knowledge that I do not possess in this moment will come in time. Everything takes time.

I can hear you screaming “Wait, what? That’s it!?” Don’t worry your pretty little head. I’ve ALWAYS got time to share. Do not be afraid to employ the resources available to you at your institution when you begin to have feelings such as these. They are there to help you. They want you to stay and, what’s more, they want you to be happy. My resource told me today that “graduate school is only a blip on the grander scale of life,” or something very similar to that. In short, when you start feeling like this (and thank God if you never do), remember that you can do it, that you are worthy and that you have the power to pull on some steel toed boots and kick that PhD’s mighty vociferously pompous ass. Smile while you make grad school your bitch and focus on the life you want to lead after graduating. What’s the worst that could happen? You fail. Then you get back up, dust yourself off, laugh hysterically when you realize that the seam in the ass of your pants split when you fell, and try again. I’m in the process of sewing said seam back together. I’ll try again when I’m done.


  1. Maybe it's because I have no drive for anything not fantastical, thereby rendering any drive I have absolutely fucking useless. But I don't even consider that I may succeed or fail. I just go through the motions put forth to achieve a goal, and that languidness oft is a mechanism of failure. If it is, though, I've lost nothing. I never expect to succeed, to reach some goal that isn't lofty and evasive.

    I don't know that it'd work for you, or that you'd want to try what is probably an abysmal approach to these affairs. It's still something else.

    Anyhow, you know I wish you luck in conquering this bitch. Just be sure you don't lose anything precious along the tempestuous sojourn, Kristen.

  2. If by "precious" you mean sanity, then I'll be sure to keep it close by at all times. I actually think that this advice is the best I've received so far. It's rather hard to make oneself feel better about any situation when someones says "everyone goes through it." That is bullshit. And they know it.

    I think your process has some merit. Having low expectations with regard to winning or losing, failing or succeeding, diminishes the gravity of the situation and thereby the amount of effort you put into achieving that goal. I'm not sure if this is exactly what you meant, but that's how I'm taking it. I actually feel better now. It's JUST grad school. It'll be here tomorrow and the day after. If I succeed great. If I fail, I always have my family in NC to go home to. Thanks Kurai. You've honestly made my day.

  3. I would bring out the soap but you're an adult now (smile).

    No words of wisdom, I know that sometimes life knocks you down, but you have to get back up. If you stay down you loose.

    Smack that Bitch and make it give you your money. Pimps say pimping aint easy, but they've never tried Graduate school.

    Mouth closed ears open...I hear you.
    Love dad.

  4. Science Fiction and Fantasy Club
    every Tuesday at 7:30 pm
    STEW 318

    Just because you haven't looked doesn't mean it isn't there.

  5. Why thank you anonymous Boilermaker! I had no idea! Where does one even go to search for clubs such as these on campus?

    I'd also like to say that the comments above are in reference to my cohort, not Purdue as a whole.

    Thanks again. Maybe I'll stop by with my latest and greatest fantasy novel.

  6. I see it differently. Just because you didn't state it doesn't mean its correct by any means to insinuate that you were referring to the whole fickung college. I think I'll take a stab in the dark and reply under the presumption that you are talking about your field... but I could be wrong, if I am, forgive me.

    The best advice that I can give is to quite hoping for the best of those around you and step outside the box by going to the different clubs (homework pending, of course). Clearly you aren't as A-type as you counterparts and realize that life isn't just studying. Stay cordial but stay your distance. I'm sure you'll find "that" group that you're looking for.

  7. First of all, the fliers were all over campus (and the concrete) during the first month of classes.

    Secondly, as a member of your cohort, I am extremely offended by your statements. I know of at least two of us (excluding yourself) that read science fiction, and I am 85% sure there are more. You should try getting to know us better.

  8. I'm sorry if you find yourself offended Anonymous. Again, I did not know about the group on campus. There were many such fliers around campus during the first month of courses. Perhaps this particular one was lost among the many.

    In addition, I have attempted many times to "get to know" many members of my cohort. I recognize that I am new in a new town and that it is 100% necessary to get to know the people that I will be working with. There is no need for the animosity. I did not write this particular entry as a means of denigrating any particular member of the incoming PULSe class. This is simply my way of sharing how I am currently feeling. I am sorry if my attempts to get to know you or anyone else do not meet your particular standards, but I simply did not know anyone (before today) that had interests that were similar to mine.

    I am sure, given the tone of your response, that we will not be meeting to have drinks or discuss fiction. But, I believe the tone that you may have taken from this blog is not one in which it was intended. Again, I apologize if you find yourself offended. No offense was intended. I hope you are enjoying Purdue and PULSe. Good luck to you.

  9. Wow this is awesome, Kristen you reached out and you got a response. So now you can join the other Sci Fi heads on the day and time indicated.

    Great, be sure to let me know how it went

  10. I would have to say that I agree with ComnAttractn... because it's not stated doesn't mean that you didn't attempt to reach out to other. Insinuations breed wrong opinions.

    Looks like you made a new friend babe! Haha. Now maybe it's just me but no where did I see you call out or speak ill-willed toward your cohorts. Someone is being a tad bit sensitive. Clearly aiming for a Ph.D comes with the clause of being a subjective parvenu. From my analysis, you said that no one that you KNOW of (not to be confused with no one PERIOD) has interests similiar to yours. If 30 is the new 20, is speculating the new attacking? Fill me in.

    Me personally (disclaimer: these are MY thoughts not to be misconstrued for how you may feel), I wouldn't apologize. For the animosty that was retorted (by an anonymous person at that) was ill-mannered, misdirected and uncalled for. Have any of your "cohorts" attempted to reach out to you? From our conversations, no. Secondly, after a third read of the blog... what was said that could offend someone? Nothing that I saw. Oh wait... maybe that part about people not being honest with themselves. However, if that's the response that one line garnered then... clearly it's true. So again, don't apologize.

    I, however, apologize that Mr./Mrs. Anonymous mistook your opening up and reaching out for possible comraderie in a manner that compelled such a negative and unruly riposte. I do urge that you don't take this misrepresentation and bare ill will towards the rest of your cohorts and peers.

  11. I am going to attempt to clarify my position, then I will leave the discussion.

    I am offended by your comment that no one that you know of in the cohort reads sci-fi because I was present when someone asked you about the book you were reading and a brief discussion of fantasy and science fiction ensued. From the PULSe Mentor Meeting, someone said their favorite author was Isaac Asimov, which also sparked a brief discussion about science fiction. It wounds me that you don't recall these instances.

    Also, some of us feel that we are making overtures of friendship that are not returned. Perhaps there is a failure in communication somewhere?

  12. Hello again Anonymous.

    I can see that this non-issue has gotten out of hand to some extent. So, let me try to explain one final time what it is that I truly meant. The comments above are a simple statement of what I am currently going through. My statements are not meant to place blame or suggest in any way that there are no people in my cohort that share interests that are similar to mine (to include and extend beyond sci fi). It is simply a statement that I have yet to make a friend that I can identify with on the level that I am accustomed to. I am not trying to say or imply that people of the current PULSe class do not exhibit these characteristics. It is simply a statement that of those that do, I have not found any friends among them. I hope that makes better sense now, and perhaps I could have explained it better.

    The fact that during one meeting a few people had a discussion about science fiction does not mean that we will somehow suddenly become friends. It just means that at some point we discussed a common interest and went about our daily lives. Common interest does not necessarily equate with friendship - long lasting or otherwise.

    This entire post was my way of sharing with my audience how graduate school is affecting me at this current point in time. It was not a means of stating that my cohort is lacking in some way, and I think there is a possibility that you may have interpreted it in that way. There is nothing wrong with you or any other member of our cohort. There is nothing wrong with me. This has simply been a difficult transition for me, and I wanted to be sure to write about it for the people that will be entering graduate school next year and the year after that. This way, when they start to go through what I am going through, they'll have some idea of what they can do - i.e. speak to a counselor, or an administrative member in their program. Honestly, I am saddened that you either missed or ignored the overall point of the post and zeroed in on one small aspect of it.

    Without knowing who you are, or how we've interacted (or apparently - not interacted) over the last few months, I am unable to comment on any overtures of friendship that may have been extended. All in all, this is merely my outlet for when the pressure of graduate school starts to weigh on me. Unfortunately, I can not account for any and every interpretation of what I write.

    Like I've said before, I hope that the initiation of your graduate school career is going better than mine, and that your research/rotations are going well. Good luck to you.

  13. I'm going to galvanize enmity here. Because that's what I do. I's trollin'!

    Down here~ you have friends who are all up in that Science Fiction / Fantasy. All up in it.

    Further, we're not very bright. So we don't get cantankerous. We're too base to be offended. Assumptions? I can't even spell that word without copypasta. Is it delicious? Do I need it!? Does it make an ass out of me!? You!?

  14. You are absolutely right Kuraitenshikun. I've already been blessed enough with friendships that will last me a life time. I'll focus on those and be sure to let everyone else know that they'll never be able to measure up to my down south homies. LOL