Hey scholars! I am just one week away from my summer ending and am feeling all in my feels! During this last week I'm spending time reflecting back on my summer and the things I've accomplished and ways I've changed.
This summer was transformative for me.
Full confession - the summer didn't start off great. After a couple bumps in my personal life at the start of summer, I was left feeling utterly alone. I felt like a complete failure who hadn't accomplished enough in my first year, who had let down those around me, and who generally wasn't doing a good job in her program.
And I hit an all-time low: I started looking for a new job.
Yup, you read that right.
This is the first time I'm admitting this, but at the start of the summer, I was struggling with a depression so intense that I was seriously considering leaving my PhD program and my field entirely. This was so serious that I even started conversations with my mom. We talked about the possibilities of law school or getting into the publishing field. I was looking up jobs, considering finances, and looking at relocating out of Boston.
I was ready to go y'all.
I wish I had some great story about what motivated me to keep going, but I don't have one. Somehow and for some reason I just did. I stayed in my program and kept working until I finally got the mindset shift I needed, which leaves me with the tip I have to offer you.
At the beginning of the summer I created a new page in my Notion planner where I started logging everything I was planning to do this summer for my lab, currently working on, and already accomplished. I wanted to be able to have a concrete list, by the end of the summer, of what I had worked on and completed, both for myself and to discuss with others if necessary.
It was such a small thing to do that took little time and effort, but it truly made a difference in my motivation. Every time I got to move a task to the completed section I got a little boost of pride. Plus, I got the added reminder of all the other things I've accomplished. And now, as the summer comes to a close and I'm feeling frustrated at myself not having completed my manuscripts I have those lists to look back on. Just the other day, in a moment of inner frustration, I looked at that list and realized I had pretty much forgotten the stuff that I had spent days focusing on and completing in early June.
I'm totally a visual person and do not have the best memory, so this visual reminder of my accomplishments has me feeling so proud of myself and ready to move forward.
And if you're wondering how my mental health is...
Well, I'm no longer looking for new jobs.
After a year of feeling like a complete failure and frankly just not feeling like the accomplished, confident, driven woman I was before I started this program, I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. In a word, I'm finally feeling competent.
Now, I don't know if that change is all due to my little list, but that guy sure has helped me. So try it out for yourself! Log what you accomplish in the Fall semester and track how that list impacts your mental health both during and after the semester. I can't wait to hear about your results!
Until next time...