True Life: I’m In Grad School

It has been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. Reason being, I’m rather busy these days. I do not know if this post in particular will have any sort of “wow” factor or really be that interesting. Long day, just trying to write to relieve stress.

So, this grad school thing. Well, I should probably preface this post by saying I’m enjoying myself and that Texas A&M is meeting expectations.  Anyway, back to grad school. If I had to describe it to someone…

Constant Work

Back in my student athlete days I was always busy but I was not always working. During my undergad years I was given plenty to do but most of it was just a waste of time or required little mental energy on my part. So while there may have been stuff to turn in or a test to study for the general mental cost was low. I was able to take back-to-back semesters of 20 credit hour semesters and rack up A’s. This while training and competing. I’m a smart guy but let’s be real. Shit just wasn’t that hard.

Let’s fast-forward to graduate school.  I have half as many classes as I did in undergrad and only half of these current classes require me to put in effort. Turns out, that’s about all I can really deal with right now. Not only do I have class but I have laboratory responsibility as well.

[RANT] Being a GA is not the easiest thing. I know some people are of the opinion that because I’m doing “cool” things that I’m interested in that somehow I’m not really working like the rest of the 9-5 people. Ya… if you think that you can go fuck yourself. I’m not trying to be an asshole about it but it really does piss me off when I hear someone disregard what I do every day. I work with very expensive equipment and if I make mistakes I can not only cost this department a lot of money but also hurt the reputation of the research done by collecting crap data. Plus, I’m not just pushing buttons, I then have to interpret that data and understand the physiological significance. Don’t get me started on the statistics that accompany the data collection. [/RANT]

Where was I? Right. As I mentioned, class ain’t easy. I just took a test last week and if I didn’t know all of the material it would have been impossible to do well on the test. Not complaining about that. I expect to be tested. It’s just that the time commitment necessary to obtain the level of understanding is high. During the day I’m running exercise tests, being trained, completing assignments for my advisor, going to class, and trying to fit in a workout schedule. Then you study. Then you can relax. Then you can eat. (ya, I prioritize exercise over relaxation) Did I mention making sure I don’t dive headfirst into my studies so as to give my fiancé the time she deserves (yes, that seems like a no brainer but if you know me you know my obsessive personality).

Grad school is one thing after another. Work never ends. If I’ve got free time I should probably be studying for a test or reading a research article or practicing how to run tests or… you get the picture. Never before have I been challenged and stimulated like this. Despite what the above words may imply I’m not really that stressed out. I was made to work hard. I just feel it important (for my own mental health) to acknowledge that I will be working hard for a very long time. This is not a sprint. Thankfully I haven’t said yes to every single opportunity thrown my way or I would be overwhelmed. On the same token, I always carry caffeine pills with me because sometimes I don’t have the motivation to dig in and grind out an assignment.

Each day I try to find the balance. By focusing on my goals and having a vision of the future I know I will be successful. It is not easy. I feel no reason to lie about that. For anyone who reads this that wants to be a grad student understand that undergrad was the warm-up. If you are not willing to work, do not apply. But, if you have the passion. If you have the desire to learn more, go for it. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you end up in a good program.