Two things happened within the past 24 hours which led me to this post: a conversation with a close friend and waking up this morning without guilt. I’ll get to both of those things, but first I want to explain the state of the blog.
Clearly, I haven’t been posting here as regularly as I did last year. I knew in the fall that I wouldn’t have as much time to play video games or to write about them during the academic year, but I didn’t anticipate not wanting to write about the games I was playing. I felt that way for a few reasons which revolve around being in grad school. I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially, going to grad school full time is my job. Even when I’d rather not be thinking about what’s due next or how I need to be preparing for conferences, I am. And that can suck.
Now I don’t want this post to be depressing because that’s not why I write here and that’s not how I feel. It also wouldn’t be a fair representation of my experiences coming back to school. I’ve had a lot of fun this past academic year, met some great people, and made more progress on my research interests than I thought possible at this point in my studies. By all accounts, I’ve had a wonderful first year back. Only three more to go!
The spring semester has been over for a few weeks now, and I took that first week off as ‘me time.’ I let myself sleep in, I played video games for many hours, and I watched a lot of Netflix (mostly The Killing). It was great. For the first few days. I found myself quickly slipping into discontent. At first I shrugged it off. It would pass. But it didn’t. And the second week of break went by where I felt stuck in this weird limbo. And that’s where my conversation with a friend comes in. We talked about how grad school can place you in the mindset of ‘what’s the next thing I should be doing?’ We sometimes operate at that level for so long that when break/summer arrives, we’re not sure what to do with ourselves. Guilt can enter in here as well. Technically, I’m on track with all my work and studies. I can afford to take the summer off and leisurely prep for the fall whenever I feel like it. But could I be doing more? Should I be sending out proposals to conferences? Should I be working on something publishable? When will I have this time again?
Stop and breathe. That’s what I had to tell myself this past week. I’ve become a very goal-oriented person these past few years. I plan ahead and work toward what I value. I’m constantly trying to ‘up’ the quality of my work. That drive has served me well in school. However, it can also set me up for feelings of failure. The expectations of grad school, particularly for PhD students, doesn’t help with this either. To be clear, my purpose is not to make graduate school out to be some sort of hell that is more hellish than all the other hells out there. Many jobs and general circumstances in life have aspects about them that suck, and academia isn’t different in that regard. Balance is key though, and that’s what I’m trying to find to reclaim my summer.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t wake up with guilt this morning. I’ve been feeling guilty due to much of what I described above. But whenever my mind wandered to this blog, I felt a little bad about not writing. I haven’t been producing content, and it’s been bothering me. My conversation last night is, at least partly, responsible for my guilt-free waking this morning and has allowed me to write this. I love writing. I might even love it more than I love video games. But I especially enjoy mixing those two things and sharing them here with you. I want to get back to that, but I also want to be comfortable with what I’m producing here and with the frequency of my posts. I’ve decided that I won’t commit to a schedule for the summer, and I’ll keep any goals loose and to myself.
Generally, I’d like to work toward a better me this summer. I want to shed some of the pressures of grad school and a few pounds. I want to be okay with sleeping in and sometimes staying up way too late playing Fortnite. I want to travel back to MI and sit on the beach with nothing but the sound of waves and gulls to keep me company. I am going to do those things, and I thank you for visiting this space where I may share them.
Thank you for reading this, and thanks for sticking it out with me. 🙂