Notes From The First Year

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Hello blog readers,

So this is it, I am in the last week of my first year as a doctoral student. Can you believe it? Here are some thoughts and things that I have learned along the way. Also, here are some things that I wish I would have known but hopefully can use in the future.

1. Keep an open mind

Starting something new is always a challenge but the more open you are to new ideas, the better things can get. You don’t know because you haven’t gotten there yet.

2. Take notes by hand

I don’t know what it is, it may be a security blanket for me but note taking helps a lot. Even when I look back on notes that I have taken by hand, I can make more sense of things.

3. Laugh a lot

Laughter can make even the bleakest moments better. Your code didn’t run, laugh. Your reviewer said that you know nothing, laugh. When it seems as you have no friends, laugh. Just keep laughing. It will pass.

4. You are here for a reason and a purpose

So you may have these moments where you feel like you don’t belong and you just don’t measure up. You are here for a reason. So you don’t even know what a statistic is. That’s what books are for. You are here for a reason. You don’t feel like you measure up next to superstars. You have a purpose. Actually, breathe in and out and use these words as a mantra. Mind blown.

5. Embrace who you are, it will take you a long way

So you are an uber nerd. That’s okay, your nerd brigade will support and encourage you. Embrace who you are. You have great ideas but don’t think you know how to write very well. Embrace who you are and get some help. Online, offline, in a book, there is a ton of help out there for your dilemma. Embrace who you are. You like comic books,graphic novels, and all things nerdy. Embrace who you are. Your friends already do and they don’t care because they are just as nerdy in their own way.

6. You may not be in a relationship the way you think you are

So you may not have an actual partner but you have a relationship with your dissertation. It will be a long term relationship and that is okay. Love it, live it, learn it. Embrace all those in your life who support you no matter how other worldly you may sound.

7. Write your lit review as soon as possible

Gather all of your data and articles as soon as you can. Then look for a system to help you write your lit review. There are tons of resources to help with this as well. Just write, because the more you write even though it may seem like crap or someone tells you it is crap, you can always save it and use it for something.

8. Back up your data and files

I am still working on this but it is okay to have several copies of the same thing in numerous locations because you just don’t know how many times in a semester you will leave all of your flash drives at home(count as of now:4).

9. Don’t be afraid to email your professor something silly, the worst he or she can say is no

So being the slow person that I am, I find myself with the weirdest thoughts and questions. Sometimes I have to email my professors to get their feedback or perspective. Also, sometimes you just have to get used to hearing no, so that when you do hear yes you can be pleasantly surprised.

10. Use your voice it’s the only one you have

So, sometimes things happen and you don’t feel like you are being heard, use your voice. You think things should be changed, use your voice. You need help, use your voice. Often times people may not know what you need unless you use your voice so use it.

11. Self-care is the salsa of life

So you are having a good day, dance. You are having a bad day, dance. Just keep dancing. Like Dory says “Just keep swimming”. Keep doing the things that help you to protect yourself and give you balance. You are in it for the long haul and you have to stay healthy.

12. Kindness never hurts

Even though you may think you know everything(or 85% of everything), there are others who know more and who can help you. Be kind. You want to treat others the way that you want to be treated, so keep being kind. Even when your feelings are hurt. Or even when that totally hot guy who you think you would be perfect for still doesn’t see you. Be kind to him and his new girlfriend lol. There is a lot wrong in the world but there is also a lot that is right and how better to be a change for good than by being kind.

13. Not everyone needs to know your story, that is a priviledge

So you have a wonderful, amazing, wild ride of a life story. Well, congrats but that doesn’t mean you have the right to tell the whole world until you actually get your book written. There are people who don’t actually want to hear your story but for some reason try to pry it out of you to hold it against you, don’t fall for it. Silence is golden. I’m working on it. I am getting better at it.

14. Be the person that you want to be in a relationship with

You can’t keep lamenting about being single if you aren’t trying to be your best self. Because your best self is not a lamenter. Your best self spends too much time being awesome to complain, gripe, or have pity parties about why you are still single. You are still single because you just are. Tis life.

15. Accept compliments

The mailman called you a hero, accept it. Someone else calls you smart, accept it. You have friends who like you just the way you are, accept it. What would life be like if you spent more time just being awesome instead of trying to shape shift into someone else’s form of awesome? Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break and be bat cat.

16. Help somebody

So a good professor friend told me that life isn’t about getting the Ph.d, it is about what and who you will be helping because of having the Ph.d. Who can you help now? How can you help someone. Take time each day on or off the clock, to help someone. Who helped you when you needed help? Who helps you now? Giving back never returns void.

Well friends, here are just some tips and sage advice from me to me and you

Shalom

Namaste

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