Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Truth Time

Truth #1:  You haven't heard from me in a little over a month.

Truth #2:  I have started and not finished 6  different blog posts over the last month.  If you're reading this, it's because attempt 7 was successful.  Yay.

Truth #3:  This semester has been a total blur.  I mean, did any of you realize that it is now May?!?!?!  Did you know that today was my last day of classes for the semester?  Because I barely do.

Truth #4:  I have been in an "interesting" mental space for the last four months.  And I use the word "interesting" because there is no one word that can accurately sum up what my mental space has actually been.  I've been happy, I've been sad, I've been excited and disappointed, distracted, depressed, elated, occasionally focused, anxious, hopeful, stressed, etc., etc., etc.  There are a number of reasons why this has been the case.  Losing my aunt at the end of December has been hard on me and hard on my family, which, in turn, has been even harder on me.  It is always difficult to lose someone you love but sometimes, even more difficult is watching someone else you love feel the loss.  I have also dealt with a couple of personal issues, which I'll refrain from discussing on the world wide web.  On top of that, school has been stressful, I've been writing a dissertation grant application for the last couple of months, and I've been training for the upcoming (in 4 days!) half marathon, all while trying to maintain a (probably much too active) social life.  It's not surprising, I suppose, that I've been in a fog and in a funk for these four months.  I sincerely hope that after the semester ends, I have some time to relax and regroup and get my head screwed back on straight.

Truth #5:  In all of this emotional rollercoastering, I haven't been the very best student.  I have been just getting by, one week at a time.  Now, for those of you out there casting a mildly disapproving look in my direction, as my advisor put it, "Katie, your 'just getting by' is still getting you A's, so I wouldn't worry about it."  True.  But, does it mean I've been happy with the work I've done or what I've learned (or maybe in my case, not learned)?  Not especially.

Truth #6:  What I am happy with is that yesterday, I submitted the above dissertation grant application.  I struggled with it a number of times and I hated it for a while, but in the end, I am proud of what I turned in.  I think it has a fair shot at getting funded and even if it doesn't, it will be a great starting point for future grant applications (which, luckily, are coming up in August, September, November, and January ... yikes).

Truth #8:  Never have I known stress like the stress of writing a dissertation grant application (especially while simultaneously working 20 hours per week and taking a full course load).  I mean, for one, my entire academic and professional future rides on me getting money to do research.  For two, my name is going on this thing.  It's my work.  And people are going to read it and either decide to give me money to take me one step closer to my future or reject it.  Let me tell you, people.  A scary/sick/normal(?) amount of my academic self-worth is wrapped up in people accepting my work.  The result? S-T-R-E-S-S.

Truth #7:  Given how things have gone, I really have no idea what to expect in the half marathon on Sunday.  I went into training in January with a time goal in mind and was super motivated to go after it.  With a couple of injuries that necessitated time off and taking several weeks to get back into shape after said time off, I'm no longer sure whether or not that goal time is still realistic.  I've had some spectacular runs lately and am getting faster.  So, the way I see it, this race could go spectacularly, or it could be just ok.  But after all of the crap that's gone down since January, I am perfectly ok with 'just ok.'  There's always another training season and another race.  I'm planning on giving this one my all and seeing how it shakes out.

This has been a rough time for me (in case you couldn't tell based on what I've already written).  I have struggled mentally and emotionally in ways that I don't often struggle.  I haven't been myself in a number of ways.  But I can tell you for absolute certain that there is almost nothing I love more than crossing everything off of a semester-long to do list and tying up the end of a semester with a nice, neat, big red bow.  Things will get better, because they always do.  I will take a much-needed and well-deserved mental break and maybe a vacation - my god, I hope so - and I'll get back to myself, who is usually a fairly happy, upbeat (if not mildly overdramatic), somewhat motivated person.

Thanks for reading, friends.  Even when my posting becomes so sporadic.

Tell me...  What do you do when you find yourself in a funk?  Or down in the dumps?  Do you have any no-fail strategies to snap out of it? (One of the things that always helps me is looking at pictures that make me happy, hence the Sanibel pictures in this post!)


  1. So sorry to hear about your aunt. I know just what you mean when you say it's harder to watch others suffer around you, that is SO true. I think you're taking the right approach though, and just taking each challenge and each day as it happens. Hold your head up, but don't hold yourself to unrealistic expectations.

    For me personally, I find that my fail-safe way to get out of a funk is to surround myself with people who don't let me stay there. It's easy to wallow, to sleep and eat my weight in bad food, but sometimes I need a good swift kick in the butt to snap out of it.

    Take a deep breath, you've arrived in May, and good luck on Sunday!

  2. Hey, Katie, it's Rob. Might I add another "truth?" You're back in the States after what looked to be an exciting/stressful/educational time in Bangladesh. There's all sorts of -- I'll use your word -- discombobulating about re-entering American society after having been away.

    The most important statements in your blog entry are worth repeating, though -- "Katie, your 'just getting by' is still getting you A's" and "I submitted the above dissertation grant application." Even not at your best, you're getting your job done. You're good at this, even when it doesn't feel like you are, or even when you think you could be doing better.

    Good luck on Sunday. Don't hurt yourself.

  3. Thanks so much, to you both. :)