Grad School Makes You Hate Yourself

Last week, I had a rough afternoon.

I started out wary. I was in one of those menstrual moods where you’re not sure what’s gonna set you off, but you know it’s gonna be something. My mom always says that she loved her period because she “felt different everyday!” …uh… haha, that’s great in theory, I guess… until you practically blow a gasket over some minuscule thing, or burst into tears at a saccharine Hallmark commercial. But I was fine, I was maintaining… and then I had a post-presentation meeting with my professor. It seemed, at least to me, that he had less to say about my argument than my delivery of said argument. His criticism, while essentially constructive, denounced my “lack of formality,” which he feared would work against me because it would distract people and prevent them from taking me seriously.

…when someone confirms those devious thoughts inside my head, it kills me a little inside. It means that what I had told myself over and over again was an overreaction… really, well, wasn’t. It was true. Apparently I do come off as unprofessional sometimes. I can try all I like to justify that it’s just me, take or leave it. But not really. I’m a capable chameleon. I’ve done it before. Hell, I once convinced an insurance company to give me a salaried job with full benefits when I hadn’t had any legit customer service experience in 6 years. It’s just that it’s exhausting. Sometimes I just wanna be me and leave it at that, but that’s not how success happens, I guess. That’s not how it’s guaranteed.

And so I was sad, and ashamed, and beat down, because you bust your ass, and in a second it feels like it’s shot to hell because you didn’t gift wrap it the desired way. So I was having my car-cry, telling myself to stop being a baby, to take the criticism, and use it to better myself. As I sniffed and blinked my way through that monologue, I came to a stop light and for a split second I saw (thought I saw?) someone that I did NOT want to see. I wasn’t expecting it (when are you ever?), and whatever composure I had attained dissolved immediately, and I lost it. Because when this myriad shit strikes you all at once, it’s… ugh… it becomes so hard to live inside your own head. And while you wanna reach out for help, you don’t wanna bother your loved ones… because everyone is fighting a hard battle right? And when I think about it like that I feel the solidarity and the solitude at the same time, and it’s crushing…

And so I got home, curled into a ball on my bed, and I cried. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Then I got up. I wiped away the runny mascara. I blew my nose. I poured myself a glass of wine, and I sat down to write.

Grad school does make me hate myself sometimes. The past couple of years have made me question my very identity, my core sense of self. I haven’t felt like me, and I haven’t been sure who me is anymore. However, there is one immutable thing that I know: I am no basic bitch.

To me, “basic bitches” are people don’t step outside their comfort zones. They confine themselves to emotional safety nets, nets which will perpetuate their fragile sense of self-confidence and value. But value doesn’t accrue unless you invest in it. Sure, it would be easier to be satisfied with my hometown, my pumpkin spice lattes and my safe insurance job. But that PSL just ain’t enough for me… and as much as it may pain me, and as much shit I might get myself into, whether it’s school, dating, life en générale, I won’t confine myself to those safety nets… ’cause I ain’t no basic betch. When I remember that, I hate myself a little less.

Current Quote: “Why do we fall, Bruce?”

Current Jam: contest between “Bulletproof” by La Roux and “Ribbons and Detours” by Silversun Pickups. Who won?

4 thoughts on “Grad School Makes You Hate Yourself

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