It has been a productive day. Now 11:51 p.m., I am exhausted. There will be many more days like this in my immediate future. In fact, with the (possible) exception of Thanksgiving, every day for the next three weeks will be a struggle to keep my head above water. Yet the fight is not over and with each passing day, I am just a little bit closer to the end - as distant as it seems. I don’t want to keep saying the same thing day after day and I sure don’t want to appear as though I’m complaining, but nothing could have prepared me for what is currently expected of me.
Except experience. After my first graduate semester is completed (and assuming I am invited back for another) I will have the needed experience to prepare me for what is to come, which is of course, more of the same. It will not be as daunting; I will have picked up some practice and knowledge along the way that will make the workload for the next and subsequent semesters feel much more manageable. Still overwhelming perhaps, but manageable. I know this, but it is of little comfort tonight. I still have a long way to go and little time to get there.
I expect when it comes time to write my thesis in a couple of years (although the prep work will begin much sooner), I will again find myself in a similar position - wondering what I have gotten myself into. And again I will keep moving forward, sometimes blindly, until I reach an end - hopefully a Master of Arts degree. I am not sure I have ever dedicated so much of myself to a single purpose - certainly not where my education is concerned. Up until now, I didn’t have to - and that is not necessarily a good thing.
Being “smart,” as I have been accused of more than once, is not enough to make it. Lots of smart people are working dead-end jobs, doing only what it takes to get by. I am not by nature a “go-getter.” I would much prefer to take the easier, softer way. Being able to apply minimal effort and excel can have a negative effect, one that makes taking shortcuts a way of life. For most of my undergraduate term papers, I could and usually did wait until a week or so before they were due before I'd start writing. It is certainly not the recommended way to approach these types of tasks, but I was always able to get away with it. Procrastination and I go way back.
Although I knew that would not fly in grad school, I still put off some of the preliminary work, when I had the time, until now when I really don’t. I didn’t wait until the last minute, it was apparent early on that would not work, but I did not use good time management when I had the time to manage. Now, my time is being managed for me - it is virtually all dedicated to school. I have become painfully aware that it’s as it should be - I am not special. In fact, I have some catching up to do… I am not feeling particularly smart right now. The humility in that statement is palpable.
I waffle between feeling like there is no possible way to make it to just seeing a glimmer of hope that I can. Today, when I finished reading, documenting, citing, reading some more and then writing a little, I realized I am a long way from home. A very long way. But it is calling me, as impossible as it all feels right now, tomorrow is a new day and with it brings new opportunity. A friend told me earlier this evening to just breathe… It’s probably the best advice I’ve heard in a week.