Once upon a time, I wasn't always a mega-grouch. I was fairly happy, fit, and carefree. My undergraduate years in college were the best for this. They combined things I liked doing with things I was decent at. My part time jobs all worked pretty well and taught me life skills. I met my best friend and love of my life there. I got married there. Life was good.
The summer after our marriage we moved across the country to attend graduate school. Moving wasn't even bad. It was an adventure! We settled into our first town home and started school...and that's where things got sticky.
I began graduate school with high expectations. I had always done fairly well in school (even with minimal effort), so I wasn't worried about the class work. I had previously held an undergrad research position so I wasn't worried about that part either. I just knew things would work out.
My first mistake was not making friends as soon as possible. I was in a science program which was designed to have short rotation periods in several labs, before choosing a Ph.D. lab. I figured it didn't matter if I made tons of friends in the first few weeks, I would have plenty of friends in my new sunshine-y awesome Ph.D. lab!!! So, I spent lunch hours alone in the library, studying. This also meant that when things began to go downhill, a little later in the year, I had no one to talk to. I didn't want to put anymore stress on T, he had grad school worries of his own...
So, I bottled things up. This was NOT the right choice. I ended up crying, alone, in a bathroom stall. Twice. I would spontaneously burst into tears at home (much to T's surprise and horror, poor guy didn't know what was going on). Disappointment laced my voice in phone calls home to my family. I didn't know what to do and I had no one in the same position to ask advice of or confide in.
My second mistake was thinking that graduate school would be just like undergrad.
Graduate school is awful. It is. I am not kidding.
Even people who say its OK are only looking at it in terms of producing the degree/career goal they have. There are days of complete misery and days where it is tolerable. I think that adds up to pretty awful. But then again, I had a pretty crummy experience.
Since I was expecting it to be similar to my undergrad experience, I took no qualms in taking more than the minimum number of hours. Even though I was working part time as teaching assistant and dedicating time to research hours during rotations. The minimum was 9 hours of coursework. I took 14. I also got assigned to one of the more time consuming classes to TA. No problemo. To top it all off, I wanted to impress my first rotation professor and gladly VOLUNTEERED to come in and finish up an experiment over the weekend, while putting in all spare time to being at the lab.
In short, I was insane and did WAAAAAYYY too much.
And that doesn't even begin to cover it...next time I'll be writing about how it all went downhill, fast.