First-Year Lessons

This week I finished my first year of my Ph.D. program, and yet I also spent most of the week miserable.

Hard truth here: online media isn’t always what it seems.

You can look at someone’s feed or their blog and assume you know everything about them. You can assume you know what their daily life looks like, what their priorities are, what their mental state is… You can make an entire judgement about a person based on the carefully curated images they have chosen to show you.

But online content, in any form, is not a proxy for actually getting to know someone and learn about them.

This past year has been the hardest year of my life. I’ve felt incredibly isolated, overwhelmed, and, at times, entirely defeated. I’ve wanted to quit. I’ve wanted desperately to just go home. I’ve had moments of terribly needing someone to check in with me and how I’m doing and just as many moments of not wanting to talk to anyone at all.

I think it's important to be honest about the way online media can hide the truth of things. Getting a Ph.D., in my experience, is incredibly challenging and draining and it's important to normalize conversations on that and not be too hard on ourselves for having those difficult times.

So, after one year in, here’s some reality checks I’m giving myself:

  1. Its okay to separate your job from your life.

  2. Its okay to have hobbies and passions outside of school.

  3. If something makes you happy, celebrate that and cherish it.

  4. Only you know what you’re capable of, the rest of the world is just waiting to see it.

  5. The only person you truly need to impress is yourself. Belief in yourself is worth 100x more than trying to convince someone else to believe in you.

  6. If you want something, go after it. Be proactive.

  7. Mindset is everything.

  8. There are still millions of options of what you can do with your life.

There are probably a million more I can list out, but by far the hardest lesson I’ve been trying to learn this year is that I am inherently worthy, valuable, loved, and important and I don’t need validation from others to have worth as a human being.

So, yeah… it’s been a tough week. But I’m ready to become my best Elle Woods and keep on moving along.

Until next time,


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