I have been getting increasingly bad about updating this blog.
I’m sad about it because I was really looking forward to reading back through every week of my entire first year in grad school at the end of the semester. I could review my successes, my struggles; assess my game plans and strategize for the next year.
But things have been rough recently. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been feeling out of whack, which truthfully, is not entirely due to burn out, but also due to some mental health issues I’ve been battling recently. The resulting panic from this discovery led to me cutting off my relaxed hair, and embracing my very short, entirely natural new ‘do. (If you’re interested in reading further about my cut, I wrote about it over at Literally, Darling.) My parents hate it but I’m almost 23 years old, and there’s really no reason to lose any sleep over my parents not liking my new haircut.
Despite all that craziness, I’ve finally managed to get my feet back under my in my New Woman course. I stopped thinking about my weekly precis as busy work, but instead using it as an opportunity to articulate some comments I have about the Tuesday readings (which I miss because I’m taking African-American Texts, which meets at the same time.) Thinking about it this was has helped alleviate the stress significantly, but as one door closes another opens…
I’m also coming up on deadlines for an annotated bibliography for that class. As you might remember from my posts last semester, I am a huge fan of annotated bibliographies and have a great deal of respect for professors who are kind enough to assign them. They’re your best friend in grad school. The fact is, annotated bibliographies ensure your stress levels are set to moderate instead of severe during finals because you’ve already done all the heavy lifting of research and pulling together an outline months in advance. All you have to do then is write.
Unfortunately, annotated bibliographies are still a ton of work. You have to do the research at some point, and apparently that point is now. Granted, I will be so happy all my research will be done when I’m struggling to write in April, but I’m mildly freaking out right now, mostly because I also have to figure out how to write a conference paper…
Also, at some point last semester, I might have written about my Black Panther paper getting accepted to the Southeastern American Studies Association Conference. I’ll be presenting on a panel with a few other people and I was so excited about it when it was theoretical. Now, I’m nervous about presenting my, possibly very shitty, little comic paper in front of serious scholars with Ph.D.s, one of whom will most definitely be one of my favorite African-American studies professors from UVA. She’s been such an advocate for me since I got into grad school. She’s suggested books for me for this paper. She’s talked me up and also been super supportive of me throughout this journey, just in general. I really don’t want to get up on stage an embarrass myself in front of her.
Add these worries to my usual pressing homework deadlines, Omohundro stress, the art exhibit I’ve been planning with Ari, trying to keep a steady flow of articles to Literally, Darling, and my parents, who have been more present than usual over the last few weeks, I’ve basically been a puddle of anxiety. Which, let’s be honest, is not that unusual for me.
Still, things haven’t been all bad. My friends haven’t let me hole up in my apartment behind stacks of books. They’ve rallied around me and supported me, from visits from my high school best friend to late evening phone calls, from being my personal hair guru to being my coffeeshop partner. They’ve made me get outside and get moving, playing frisbee with neighbors; they’ve gotten me early birthday presents; and they’ve even taken me out for a morning adventure to see “I Am Not Your Negro” in Richmond. (Side note to review the film: I really enjoyed it. It was informative but it wasn’t necessarily new information. Artistically it wasn’t stunning or particularly moving and the most innovative part was looking at these stories from a new perspective.)
And I some things to look forward to. Mindfulness Training has been really useful for me. It’s my pause during my hectic week and the strategies we learn help me navigate the waves of uncertainty during the week. Not to mention, my birthday is coming up next Monday. It’s the first year that I can remember that I haven’t actively counted down to my birthday, but I’m still fairly excited. I don’t have any special plans but maybe something will pop up during the week. One of my friends also has a birthday this week, so maybe a joint gathering will be in the works.
I won’t say I promise to go back to writing every week because I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep, but I will do my best to keep setting aside a little time for myself every day, and hopefully, blogging will continue to be one of the things I like to do for myself.