Tag Archives: university

Start of Class, Start of Mental Games

The new school year has officially begun. Naivety and underestimation is in the air. And as a graduate of the wild, free, memory-making undergrad, you become more aware of the beauty of being a freshman again. You also become more aware of how old you truly are. There is no turning back because as a graduate student you are not allowed to be naïve, irresponsible, or lost.

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So as you walk the campus looking at all the young students milling around, you realize 1) you’re lost but don’t want to ask an undergrad where a building is because you will look dumb and 2) you are lost in more ways than one that no undergrad could ever help with. It is a big change being on a campus as a graduate student (law or medical student included). Even if it’s a familiar school and familiar grounds, something deep down within you feels changed. Don’t try to ignore or deny it, it’s a part of life now and you need to accept and adjust.

But there are some things you will never adjust to. Like when you’re looking for your classroom on the first day of the new semester with that practiced, fake smile like you know exactly where you are going, and suddenly a new undergraduate student asks you for help. It went a little something like this:

Female Student: “Excuse me, miss, where is Bryan Hall?”

Me: “Yup you’re almost there” and walk away.

Total shut down. And wait, did she just “miss” me?! That means I’m old to people who are only 4 or 5 years younger than me. Then it suddenly sinks in how the university campus world sees ME now…

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Just when you think the worst realizations have occurred that you will have to deal with, you finally do find your classroom and sit in those rickety chairs with the desktops that flap up from the side. You look around the room and see faces of people who really are older than you: people already in the work field, those who have been in their profession for many years, those who are married with kids, those who have already figured out their life. It’s then that you suddenly feel like a child again…the child that one of these real adults brought along with them, a child who should be writing in crayon and having a coloring book rather than a textbook.

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Then you start mentally freaking out that this is not the right decision. You shouldn’t be here. Grad school isn’t for you. This life isn’t for you. I just want to stay at home and play with kittens and puppies all day. You went from being the oldest person on campus to the youngest and dumbest person in the room within 15 minutes.

In the midst of your mental breakdown, the professor starts speaking and introducing himself or herself. Only to then inform you to call him/her by his/her first name. Say what now?? I don’t think that’s even in my biology to call a professional and my elder by his or her first name.

After explaining the syllabus and how it will all work there’s a final realization….

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So in conclusion, you’re screwed… but everyone around you is in the same boat, just in different phases of life. You are not the dumbest in the room. You are not the only one who feels misplaced. You are just part of this whole new world called “graduate school” and expectations are higher. But that means you need to play the game and fake it until you make it, baby!

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And we’re right back to the child thing again. Stay young, my friends!

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Phases of Post-College Life

There are many phases of life after graduation. You’re completely normal for going through all of these. Don’t be afraid… just be a tad concerned.

1. The Hopeful Phase — “I have a chance! I’ll get my dream job and be able to travel finally!”

This first phase has tricked us all. Got me, too. It’s hard not to be positive when every university/college encourages you to chase your dreams. You know what I have to say? Thanks. For. Nothing.

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2. The Graduation Day Phase — “Wait, it’s over already? No, no, no, no, no I don’t think I’m ready for this.”

Now the idea of not having a clear future hits close to home. As you sit there with your beautifully stiff cap and gown on, you think about how you are about to be released into the world. How many of us were actually ready for that one? (Those going back to school don’t count. You don’t need to worry about your job…yet…you’ll be next, though, darlings.) You start to panic and beg to be let back into the university to maybe get a second or third degree. Please?

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3.  The Beginning of this “Career Search” Phase — “I’m going to look for my dream job. I have a college degree so I’ll be ahead of most people out there.”

Graduation-Day-Depression is over, and you are determined to stay positive and find your career job. People all seem to have jobs around you, so how hard can it be? The naive determination keeps you going. Hold onto this last childish-hope that you have. This phase will probably either last a few days before the next phase starts up or it will never end for you. Stay strong, my friends!

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4. The REAL Job Hunt Begins Phase — “I’m just going to add every little useless detail of my accomplishments to my resume. That should definitely get me the job. What’s a little embellishment?”

You start getting a little desperate now. Don’t worry, it’s natural. A little embellishment isn’t a lie exactly and is not always illegal. It will only get you in trouble when your future employer is smarter than you…and chances are they will always be. But that never stops people! Keep chasing that laser.

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5.  The Realization Sinks In Phase — “Yeah, I’m screwed.”

Realization that there may be no hope for you. Beware, this is a pretty low phase. Some may even become zombie-like, and if you come across people like this stay far far away.

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6. The Cynical Phase — “Why did I even go to college? Why did I spend thousands on tuition for no hope of a future?”

People start being very cynical around you…or maybe you’re making everything seem cynical because of your state of mood. I mean how useless can you get? A crisp, white piece of card-stock engraved with gold writing with your name in the largest font…maybe it could be a giant name tag to mark my territory? I told you Phase 5 was real rough; it even bleeds into this phase. The only difference: people start reminding you how screwed you are.

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7. The Bottom-of-the-Barrel Phase — “I think I’ve officially hit rock-bottom.”

This is when you succumb to all those feelings of inadequacy and apply to any and every business you pass on the street. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; everyone has had a job like this. If anything, it just means that you’ll never give up and keep pushing through the tough times! Also, just beg employers to make up jobs so you can be employed: “I’ll be the window-washer for your three small windows.”

Although this classic joke never gets old…unless it’s you, then it’s very very old.

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8. The Completely Hating This Adult Life Thing Phase — “I’m worth more than this!”

SO you finally get a job and you make close to nothing. So half the battle has been conquered, I’ve gotten a job (whether your career one or a temporary one), and I’m still poor. Working doesn’t just equate to money, instead it equates to time spent getting just enough to pay taxes and eat Ramen noodles. Mmm I can just taste that sodium now.

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9.  The Poor Person Phase (everlasting?) — “So what do I want to do this Friday night? Let me hunt for change under the couch first.”

It’s definitely time to reevaluate the financial situation. This phase may last forever, but just remember you’ll make it through. Shoot, if you’ve made it to Phase 9, then you’re golden! Look how much you went through already. Be strong and proud of that accomplishment. I like to think things are just getting more expensive.

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10. The Can-Things-Get-Any-Worse Phase — “Now everything is a just joke to me. Haha…ha…h…”

This is when you start to analyze and compare every aspect of your life. Stay sarcastic, my friends. It’s all we may have left by this phase.

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And remember, you have an army of new graduates being funneled through this Phase System ahead of you and behind you. Just think how many more phases there will be for those graduating after you! Consider yourself lucky in that sense. And consider yourself lucky to have gotten an education because some people weren’t able to be like you. Stay strong and good luck!

P.S. – I’m at Phase 4 FYI.

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