The whole graduate school thing can be very tough some times, as a few of us know. It is in those times that I find myself wondering whether my friends that chose to be done with school at the bachelors level had the right of it. I think this is a doubt that a lot of people have from time to time through out their graduate school career. More than that I think it is important that we all know that these thoughts pass, things are always better in the morning.
I have always been one to winder about the path not taken, what could have been. While this is not always such a good idea, it is none the less the way my brain tends to work. So often after a particularly bad day, I sometimes find myself wondering about what would have been. Please do not misunderstand, I do enjoy graduate school, and I very much enjoy research. I do not think that there is any other job that I could be doing, at the moment, that would be as satisfying as conducting research. Well, astronaut for sure, and maybe treasure hunter. But nothing that would be all that feasible.
The worst days, the ones that tend to evoke the introspection, are one that every graduate student is prone to, at least I think most of us are have these days. When research goes astray; reactions that do not work when they should, or results are not what they need to be, or even the occasional conflict in the lab between group members. These kinds of days are inevitable as a graduate student, or for that matter as a researcher. More often than not a single occasion of one or all of these events would not phase most, it is just part of science. However a week of these events, or having them coupled with the social stresses can lead to a seriously rough day.
In the social realm, or at least of the things that are not directly concerned with school or research, there are a few things that tend to tip the scales toward introspection as well. Chief among them are periodic digs from those who do not entirely understand the whole graduate school process about what am I doing still being in school. For most college ends after 4 years, but for some of us school goes one for 3-5, or more years. Couple this with shots about not being married, or the ever frustrating idea that returning to school marks an end to ones adventurous stage of life, as if it means giving up on all fun and adventure. As all of these are the opinions of others, they should not be a bother to my, or anyone who does not agree with what is said. However if these are coupled with a bad day in the lab then anyone could start to wonder if things wouldn’t be a bit better, or the grass is a bit greener on the other side of the fence.
Part of me knows that this is all nonsense, because I enjoy my job. The fact that I enjoy my job is one of the reasons I work so hard at it. However, thanks to the tendency of humans to look back and question, these common events in the life of a graduate student sometimes lead to questioning. I hope that other who have these questions do not stress over them as much as I do, or as often. However if you are a grad student, or just a student of any kind, and are perplexed with these questions, I have a recommendation on how to deal with such stress. Find a particularly funny movie, then have a nights sleep without being bothered by any of the stressors in your life. Things will be better in the morning. Above all; keep calm and carry on.