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Confessions from a grad student

Photo credit: Amanda Edwards
Photo credit: Amanda Edwards

After I walked the stage and received a handshake from the school Chancellor of University of California, Irvine, I had ended my journey as an undergraduate in the English department. I was ready to start another life at Mills College, where I could seriously focus on my academic and writing goals. I worked so hard for the past four years to receive my diploma, as well as admission to Mills’ M.A. program in literature.

Over the summer, I had this wide-eyed idea of me with my wild hair and combat boots, walking around campus with excitement for my classes and the future I planned to have here. I thought of many ways to prepare myself for this future, to the extent of even planning a schedule for my weekdays. Overall, I was nervous and excited about it.

It’s been over a month since I’ve been at Mills. I knew that it would be difficult as a grad student, but I had no idea about the true extent of it. Currently, I’m balancing grad school, two jobs (and looking for a third one), amidst conflict and protests of a reconstruction of the school’s budget and its aftermath, and … my conflicting emotions about this place. *cues the theme song to “Daria”*

All of these things make me fear my future here and whether I’m even good enough to attend my classes. My peers have such brilliant minds and things to say, and I feel like such an idiot around them. I’m self-conscious about what I say and do on this campus, even at my job. My partner’s always worried that I’m overworking myself with the load I chose to take on. No matter how many times I make schedules for my life, it never goes according to plan because of my body’s need for sleep or some inexplicable thing falling down on me.  In short, nothing is what I expected here at Mills.

At the same time, it’s not all that bad as I make it appear to be. I AM studying to prepare myself for a Ph.D. program in English. I’m the Opinions Editor for The Campanil, hoping to gain some experience in journalism. I’m working on new material for different literary publications, even with my course load and jobs. So, what can I say? I’m working on most of my goals.

I think it’s just the shock of jumping back into academia after finishing my undergraduate years at UCI. I didn’t even give myself a real break or time to have fun or relax after those four long years. When I was applying for my program, I thought this was what I absolutely wanted. Now … I’m not entirely sure about that. I’m not questioning my place or thinking about leaving Mills. I just have small doubts, that’s all.

I’m not discouraging anyone to apply for grad school or complaining about what’s happening to me. I’m admitting that this is my current life situation, that I am struggling a bit to keep myself together under this atmosphere. I’m not afraid to say that. At the same time, I admit that this is only the beginning of something different, different from my experiences as an undergrad. There have been and  will be days that I’ll doubt myself, but I’m still ready to take on what I’ve started and planned to finish at Mills.