If you’re about to enter graduate school for the first time or coming back from a much-needed break, as we move into the school year I hope that you all remember this: take breaks! I recently got back from a 6-day trip to New York, and at first I felt as if it was poorly timed. Being that I only had a week to fully seal in the deal with academic loose ends before school steamrolled it’s way back. Truly, I needed that trip.
Regardless of a delayed flight, work meetings for the next 3 days afterwards, and personal life wonderings, New York reminded me that letting loose is so renewing. It gives you another look at life and you’re able to come back to your challenges with energy. I know that we are all coming off summer break and talking about another break might seem unnecessary, but when work starts piling up, the burnout is real. An early reminder about the balance that you’ll need to find while navigating a fully loaded life is something I wish I could hear every time I feel my anxiety building. We have bodies that have needs, and listening to those needs will not only help you as a person, but also as writers. Take breaks when you feel it. Work hard, but be kind to yourself. As a returning graduate student, I can tell you that the balance that you try to achieve will always change.
Being able to make those changes will get you through the year a lot more easily. The demands of graduate studies will require you to make sacrifices. OK, yes sacrifices might sound pretty serious, but it could be eating an apple rather than that brownie (I’d still eat the brownie). Learning the gives and takes of graduate life will be an amazing journey. As I said before, there will be ups and downs. Ultimately it all boils down to you! Take moments throughout the year to assess your needs. Doing so will be such a help when things start to get crazy. Believe me, they will get crazy. Take that break and rev up when you need a charge. Often I still struggle with the demands of personal life, classes, and finding time to work on writing.
It’s not something that you figure out and execute successfully every time. It’s something that you develop with time. Even professors will tell you that they still have the very same issues, which is so comforting to me. It means that you will find a way. It means that the things that you learn about yourself here at Columbia will reach far after your academic career. Even as I write this I have another blog to finish, poems to read for RHINO, and a class assignment sheet to edit. You can bet that I’ve also penciled in a break or two. I hope that you are as excited about this year as I am! Getting back into the thick of it is only part of the fun. Welcome to Columbia!