Life News!

Read all about it! Guess who’s engaged, moving, dissertating, finding a job, and graduating all within the next year?!?! Your favorite feminist, obvs!


So seriously though, things are pretty crazy with all the upcoming changes–all though they are all welcomed! I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to keep your head up when so much stress swirls around you, and I have a few thoughts.

First, some people are not going to get how stressed you are. I have had conversations with people where they compared my getting my PhD to them planning a wedding (before we were engaged). Now that we are also planning a wedding, I can attest for CERTAIN that writing a dissertation is NOTHING like planning a wedding, and WAY HARDER. So if you’re at that point where you’re about to pull your hair out, trust a few people close to you with your stress, let them comfort you, and don’t worry about everyone else’s input.

Second, put out the closest fire first. It’s really tempting for me to spend endless time online trying to find a new place to live, or pick wedding part attire, but what I actually need to do the most to help with the wedding and move is to ignore those things entirely, and work on my dissertation. I am incredibly concerned about where I will live, work, and trade vows with my partner, but I have to accept the fear, and go back to work. The best thing I can do for my future, including my marriage, is to finish the diss.

Third, get over the guilt. This might speak to a lot more graduate students than anything, but in times of serious changes and serious stress, you hang out less with people. You can’t make it to your friend’s play. You miss a phone date. You forget to send a birthday card. Again, your good friends (and family) will understand, and everyone else can just get over it. I love hanging out with friends, but I love having a place to live more, and finishing what I came here to do more, and making time to acknowledge the changes in my suddenly more serious relationship more. It’s not that friends don’t matter–its that your priorities sometimes shift for a while, and sometimes forever. This is why I don’t give friends with kids a hard time about hanging out; I have no idea what that life is like. So people are doing the best they can, and when you’re stressed, don’t make it worse by feeling guilty that you’re not out at the bars with the other grad students like you used to be. You can be there again someday, and make the bartender call you doctor (though you probably will have to tip well for that).

Fourth and final, find a mantra. For me, when I am stressed, I make a list of the things I know. For example, when stressed about the dissertation: “I know I love my topic. I know I am a good writer. I know this will get done. I know my advisor will help me stay on track. I know this will one day be over.” Or, about the wedding: “I know I love my partner. I know I love his family. I know my family is happy about our relationship. I know my friends are happy for us.” Sometimes the list is shorter, e.g. “I know we can find a place to live, even if it isn’t perfect.” But for me, this activity helps. I catch my breathe and count the things I know.

Anyway I’ll be back soon with come current event-y stuff, but I wanted to process these events with you, my dear 5 readers.





Posted on: April 27th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist 8 Comments

8 Responses

  1. Sam Hooker says:

    Way to prioritize! The “closest fire” bit is excellent advice. I also like to reach out for quick wins to boost my confidence, like posting a new blog article :)

  2. taylor says:

    engaged?! shelly, i’m so happy for you and sam! that’s wonderful. keep me posted on the hap’nins — i love reading your updates! and i especially love hearing that you may end up in austin! :)


  3. Teddy says:

    Wait. You have five readers? Including me?

  4. Todd says:

    Really great post.

    And we ARE really happy about your relationship!

  5. Shanea' says:

    Thank you so much for your post. As I sat here at my desk at my full-time job, staring at my almost-done dissertation proposal while my fancy wedding-planner-book-thing stares back at me, I felt as though I was about to have a melt-down. How will I finish my dissertation and plan a wedding with the man of my dreams while working full-time and still make it out a half-way sane woman? I truly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on ways to make this experience a little easier. You saved me from a melt-down. Thank you and I hope you are making it through if you haven’t already!

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