Yesterday was a good day. My bf made me breakfast, we went to the gym (good lord, my quads are screaming), we spent the afternoon at one of my favorite bars enjoying the breeze and the sun coming through the huge front windows, we watched a truly awful movie, and we went to bed early. I woke up smiling, relaxed, completely un-stressed-out. Do you have any idea how unusual that is?
Grad students (all academics, I suppose) get used to feeling like there’s always something we *should* be doing. Reading the next book on the list, revising or drafting the next paper, grading that stack of essays. We feel like our down time should be spent getting ahead, not relaxing. And that’s just absurd. If you want to be a workaholic, that’s one thing. If your job is so engaging or so important that taking a day off just doesn’t work for you, great. But grad school? Academia? Nobody’s life is going to change if we turn the damn revisions in on Tuesday instead of Monday. Our students aren’t going to fail if we get their essays back a day later than we promised. And what good is getting ahead if we’re exhausted, burned out, and grumpy? None. So when I looked at my to do list on Friday and realized that there was nothing time sensitive left on it, I declared this a guilt and work free weekend. And it has been amazing.
Being in transition is really difficult for me. I don’t like to make big decisions because I’m constantly weighing my options and reevaluating and it gets exhausting. One day I think I know exactly what I want and the next day something happens that turns everything upside down. Since I decided to go the PostAc route, I’ve been in a constant state of uncertainty. In many ways, though, as difficult as transition is, I think that sometimes I focus on the uncertainty in the way some people pick at scabs. I take a kind of morbid delight in the low-level panic I feel most days. So it’s unusual and refreshing to find myself feeling content. Maybe it’s because my to do list is under control. Maybe it’s because I finally got some feedback from my adviser that is totally manageable. Maybe it’s because my students are smart and engaged and even on my bad days, teaching is relatively painless. Maybe it’s because I applied for a job that I am 100% qualified for and have a really good feeling about (I woke up thinking about what I’d do on my first day; I felt certain I could hit the ground running). Maybe it’s because I’m starting to see the foundation of the next phase in my life and it’s helping me find acceptance in the current stage. Maybe all those things.
And also this: I’m feeling very much in love and very settled in my relationship in a way I never have before. Before Benny, I was single for a long time, and for most of my adult life I’ve been in and out of unhealthy and unstable relationships. I think, just like I pick at uncertainty like a scab, I used to really enjoy the drama of my unpredictable and often painful love life. My entire first book is born of that kind of pain. So, I’m reveling in the fact that I can wake up next to this great guy every morning and feel certain that neither of us plans to go anywhere. It makes the questions about my career and my finances seem less overwhelming. I’m not out here alone, floating aimlessly through my perpetual adolescence. I have a partner. And even when things are totally up in the air, at least I have someone to spend a gorgeous fall weekend with not worrying about what happens next.