Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So much reading, so little time…

I’m convinced that the experience of being overwhelmed is the same in any field: one day you’re completely on top of the to-do lists, the post-its, the schedule; the next you’ve fallen to the bottom and can hardly see the light through the little yellow sheets. As a chronic over-committer, I’ve been overwhelmed at various points throughout my life. I was overwhelmed with school work and extracurricular activities in high school, with courses and activism in college, and with studying, student organizations, and having a relationship in medical school. Now, as a graduate student, I find myself overwhelmed once again. At the end of last term, I was looking forward to this one as a semester of ease. I had only registered for two classes (though I was hoping to attend four) in addition to teaching and preparing for prelims. Though I constantly feel like I am saying no and stepping-down out of high-commitment positions, my life seems to have a knack for filling itself.

This semester, I blame it on prelims. In retrospect, I recognize any event that is widely defined as the most horrible part of any doctoral program could not be easy. Looking back, I see that the short papers I had crafted “in preparation” were laughable in their lack of rigor and data. Reflecting on it, the amount of work that remains to be done before May is daunting at best and impossible at worst. And yet here I am, reading like my life depends on it and trying to sleep/stay sane.

I suppose the lesson in this for any prospective student (or any student really) is that it never gets easier. It gets different, and hopefully it gets more interesting, but it doesn’t get easier. The further along you go, the more there is to do. And, fortunately or unfortunately, the further along you go, the fewer people there are to tell you to get it done. I’ll leave you to think on that while I go and do the one thing that I never struggle to complete: snuggling the dog…

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