Gloomy Days, Winter Thoughts, and ALL CONSUMING DREAD

Ask anyone who is applying to graduate school (or has done so in the past) and they will tell you that your life becomes muffled by a thin but resiliant coating of anxiety. This weather-proof coating (someone should get busy marketing it as a spray for hiking boots) is made up of thin layers that are best expressed in question form (Trebek, eat your heart out): is there a typo on my CV? Did I remember to send out my GRE scores? Can I really afford this many applications? Why does my school charge me 15$ each time it prints my transcript (theories: magic paper, gold-flake ink, DaVinci-esque conspiracy)?

Underneath these superficial layers are the deeper, meatier dilemmas that plague those applicants silly enough to have heart-and-soul wrapped up in the notion of attaining a doctorate: am I good enough? Do I have something worth saying? Does my lack of childhood trauma somehow infect my statement of purpose with a healthy dose of the mundane? What happens if I fail… am I doomed to fail?

Though for the most part these thoughts are relatively commonplace and do little to hinder my progress, occasionally they stack on top of one another and turn into the afforementioned ALL CONSUMING DREAD. At times like this I thrive off positive feedback, shameless complements, and bright moments of self validation. Accordingly, I have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. For example:This morning, my cat fell asleep on my foot… I took this as a sure sign that a. I am her favourite human being, b. moe loves me for more than just kibble, c. I have a soothing presence, d. all cats will soon bow down to me in a sort of reverse Egyptian mythology.

You get the gist. Needless to say I am about 2 statement of purpose drafts away from landing squarely in crazy town. On the other hand, I am also 2 drafts away from swiping these applications off my desk and getting on with my life and commitments.

The moral of the story: if applying to graduate school makes you crazy, embrace/harness the crazy.


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