Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hello there sunlight

About 2 hours ago, I submitted my NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Proposal.  I'm excited about the project, which I will actually start next week, and I have a halfway-decent chance at getting the Fellowship. 

I'm now climbing out of the hole that application made in my life - the sunlight greeting is an exaggeration, I will admit, but my life has been far more work than fun for the last few months.  The NSF hasn't been the only big work thing looming over my life, but it was the biggest deadline.  Now that it's over, I can do things like grocery shopping (not wasteless unfortunately, but now I have food in my cabinet again so I'm accepting that for the moment). 

I definitely started myself off onto the wrong foot this semester.  I've been running nonstop since I went to France for a conference in August, to the point where even taking time to have dinner with friends or cook or relax on my own felt hard.  I got a few moments - weekends or days away where I intentionally left the computer behind - but overall, I have been a little ball of stress.  And it's affected my life in a lot of ways.

For one thing, I haven't been shopping the way I want to.  In some ways, that's been good because I've been using up things in my cabinet.  On the other hand, I've had a CSA share in my fridge for 2 weeks and I should probably deal with that, but I haven't felt like cooking for a while.  I finally ran out of things in my cabinet and had to go to the neighborhood grocery store, rather than to the CoOp I'd rather shop at but which is far away.  And, particularly in the last week I've just been eating out.  My wallet's not thrilled with me, nor is my conscience. 

I also learned that when I don't get to spend time with friends, especially when I'm stressed and really do need to talk, I become a giant crankypants.  The day before a midterm several weeks ago, I nearly yelled at one of my officemates (of which I have 6, which is a whole other issue) and had to cut myself off midway through a loud, frustrated outburst in response to him.  At which point I walked to a nearby park, sat down, cried, and realized that I was not ok.  I've been spending more time with friends and with myself, but I need to give myself permission to continue doing so.

In short, I've learned that work will expand to fill the time I give it.  I'm hardly the first person to learn this lesson, I know.  But it was hard to be in the middle of it, knowing that I needed to relax and slow down but feeling trapped by the need to get everything done.  I could have asked my advisors and collaborators to give me a week or two off, but I wasn't willing to.  My classwork is mediocre, so I feel like I have to prove myself with research, but the lack of hard deadlines within that is messing with my head.  I'm impatient to get things done, and wanting to impress, but I need to stop biting off more than I can chew.  Otherwise, I'm gonna burn out. 

Anyway, that's me.  Hopefully regular posting will now resume, and there will be one less thunderous looking graduate student on campus.