Just a low effort post. I would love a mutually supportive comment discussion about it (because I’m not on facebook). Twitter replies would be nice, too.
I appreciated this post from Ben Kuhn, Grad school is worse for public health than STDs. In it he calculates that the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) caused by grad school (mostly through depression and anxiety) exceed those caused by STDs.
I wonder how much time I waste agonizing over how to fix my problems, trying to control my angst and confusion through willpower and daily habits and acceptance, when maybe a large chunk of my problems will disappear on their own after I defend. Being a grad student really is like being the frog in boiling water. I don’t know what’s normal anymore with work. I went straight from college to grad school, and 6.5 years later grad school has been my whole adult working life. The already long feedback loops get longer and the isolation steadily increases over the years as exernal structure disintegrates. And I’ve had major extra difficulties in grad school: having two advisers leave in the first two years, falling through the cracks with advising because of trying to salvage my early work with my now out-of-state first adviser while working with a new adviser at Harvard, 5th year basically lost to illness…
I have a bias against blaming external circumstances. I feel like it’s jinxing myself to say “just finish grad school– then it will all get better.” I feel like the problem has to be me. But it’s really not irrational to think that things will massively improve after I defend, since that is what most of the people who’ve been through it say, and considering how routinely negative being in grad school seems to be for the mental health of thousands of other grad students.
Since I have a month until I have to turn my dissertation in, and I will find this belief motivating whether it turns out to be true or not, I’m going to allow myself to believe that most of my current bad feelings are due to grad school. I’m still in the tunnel. I need to focus on getting out of the tunnel. Pretty much every other plan or self-reflection can and should wait until then. Fingers crossed that everything makes sense when I’m back in the light.