I have finally hit the “mid-term” mark of my first semester in grad school. I went into this feeling really prepared and confident… that feeling did not last long. At the risk of sounding naive, I was not expecting one class to be so much work. The university website said to expect three to four hours of work for every credit hour, meaning I could expect 9-12 hours a week. Most of the time, I hit that limit in two days!
However, I have not forgotten how fortunate I am. Having an employer that is willing to invest in me like this is incredible. And, if I can swing it, I’m going to take the four classes a year route. Taking two summer classes will be intense, but I know I will be glad I did it when I’m able to finish my program in three years instead of four.
The following are six things that have helped me survive the first half of this semester and that I know will be beneficial as I continue on this journey.
Planning – putting all of my non-work commitments in writing
I have a beautiful planner with school, blog, and personal sections. I have started putting everything in writing. Blog deadlines, trips home, even Amazon delivery dates and when my foods expire are in there. I even write out which days to use retinol. It might sound a little over the top, but it has really helped me eliminate the anxiety that I might forget something or that something important is slipping through the cracks.
My work/life balance is really excellent at the moment, so I leave anything work related on my Outlook calendar.
Nourishment – planning quick, easy meals
I am not someone who finds cooking relaxing for the most part. It’s time consuming, and some nights I realistically cannot find time for it. My mom is a saint and often sends me back to Nashville with a week’s worth of lunches and dinners. I also really enjoy crockpot cooking; you can find my favorite shredded chicken recipe here.
I recently received some meals and coupons from Freeli, and it seems like a good fit for days when cooking just isn’t going to happen. I’m going to try the meals out and will report back!
Blinders on – eliminating opportunities for comparison
When I started throwing out the idea of going to grad school, one of my co-workers was super encouraging. “I did it with two small kids. You can totally do this,” she assured me.
At my first realization that this was going to be a long hard process, I immediately started comparing myself to her. Then I took a deep breath and realized she was probably just as (if not more!) stressed and miserable as I was throughout the process. She didn’t tell me it was an easy process, she told me it was doable.
I’ve watched other people handle working full time and going back to school much more gracefully than I am at the moment. But at the same time, there are also people who might feel that way about me.
At the end of the day, I just remind myself that I literally do not have time to make comparisons!
Reading – using the Libby app to read for enjoyment
I set aside time each night to read before bed. It gives me something to look forward to, and it balances out all of the required reading. I use the Libby app because it’s free and has a really great selection! (It is seriously one of my favorite things on the planet and kept my sanity in tact when I was quarantining alone.)
Being intentional – focusing on relationships that add joy to my life
Quarantine has left me with a lot of time to truly reflect on the relationships in my life. The combination of maintaining friendships long distance and during a pandemic has made me keenly aware of which situations leave me nourished and those that drain my energy. Instead of dwelling on situations that would previously frustrate or upset me, I’m determined to channel my energy into true, genuine friendships.
Listening to my body – sleeping in a little if I need it
After years of struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, I’ve become a morning person. (This is a major accomplishment for me! In college, I used to go to bed at 3AM.) I think I’m so afraid of getting out of the habit, that I don’t want to let my schedule waiver. However, I’m learning that staying up until midnight for classwork then getting up at six is not sustainable. Even an extra 20 minutes or not guilting myself for taking a nap on my lunch break goes a long way.
If you have any advice for me on how to survive 11.5 more classes, please send it my way.
And if you’re here for advice, I’m cheering you on! You are doing great! This too shall pass.