Back to School and Anxiety. Yay!

Leage of their OwnHi, all. Blog posts this summer were much lighter than I thought they would be. That, however, is not indicative of how productive my summer was. I actually accomplished quite a bit. My reading list rationale is close to ready for submission. I wrote a chapter for an edited collection with a friend, I revised an essay for an academic journal (fingers crossed), and I read most of the long novels on my comps list along with several shorter works. (On that note: I loved The Bonfire of the Vanities.)

I have a couple posts in the works to go up soon, but it’s been a stressful string of weeks* and I’ve just been trying to get as much reading done as possible ahead of the semester getting fully under way. Summer seems like it should be relatively stress free, but when you’re in grad school, summer often means not getting paid (or getting paid just enough to pay rent), your friends moving away, and trying to get everything done that you didn’t accomplish during the semester. Plus, I haven’t seen my partner in almost two months. In some ways, the start of school is a welcome return to a regular schedule, paychecks, and people not assuming you’re on vacation.

Anyway, as I read and read, I keep trying to give myself pep talks (i.e. Leslie Knope) and dance breaks and time with friends and family. I also find listening to craft tutorials weirdly soothing. But with all the work, and life changes, etc ahead, I’ve hit a point where it feels like I have to sprint uphill for the next two years. If you know a grad student, do me a favor and give him or her a hug. For real.

At the risk of disclosing that I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack, on top of these practical concerns, this summer several infographics about the adjunct crisis and that dreaded article about the Baby Penalty were widely circulated. It’s hard to keep chugging when so many people want to tell you that the light at the end of the tunnel has been dimmed due to budget cuts and the value for the work you do seems devalued by the university system. I try to remind myself that I do what I do because I think it’s valuable and I think the work my classmates and my professors do is valuable. It’s terrifying that I may well be spending a decade in higher education to make only a little more than I do now in a system that, like that McDonald’s fiasco, seems to demand a dual-income household or a second job to work. Just don’t have a baby as part of that dual-income household. But: I love this work and I think it is valuable. I will persevere, dammit.

Anxiety aside, I’m really enjoying what I’m reading. Today was the first day of school. I’m teaching the same class I’ve taught for years and my students seem nice. I’m taking one of my last two classes for my Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate. which is going to be helpful for studying for my exams, I think. It should be a good semester. It’s the first time I’m not taking an English class ever. Weird.

How do you cope with stress? What does your semester look like?

*Although my parents, Julio (who sent me flowers and had carry-out delivered to my apartment), and my writing partner Megan have been wonderful!

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