I wish I was starting this out as some altruistic guide to those looking to start their grad school journey, or as evidence of poignant thoughts that I am narcissistic enough to believe demand to be recorded. Instead, I’m in my living room sitting next to my cat, irritated that I forgot to take my antidepressant, and debating whether it would be too sad to make a grilled cheese sandwich for the third time this week. I skipped classes today because I fell asleep after taking an advil to combat the blood clots from my less than benevolent uterus. The awareness of my inadequacy as a grad student and as a newly minted adult is harder to ignore than my period cramps- it seeps into the eye contact I make with my adviser and the desperate laughter after dark punchlines of my inevitable failure.
There’s no ignoring my past: a degree in mechanical engineering devoid of organic chemistry and quantum mechanics, a couple voluntary hospitalizations, several romantic relationships that ended with me convinced that I was a heartless bitch, and a family with enough health problems to consistently hit max out of pocket for five years now. None of those things were particularly easy, and many of them produced enough anxiety to keep me awake for days on end, but I fear that this may be more difficult. This week alone was it’s own brand of hell, surviving the breakup of the first woman I ever loved and then trying to make it through a meeting with my adviser being able to explain the most basic concepts of my research (a task I had managed to butcher twice already).
So here I am, marking the start line. This is where I admit that I have so much to lose and so much to gain. This is where I allow myself to be every bit as miserable and ecstatic and crazy as I need to be to get through this. And maybe whatever happens I can see the miles I ran in appreciative wonder.