Tips, Q&A's, and Highlighting Phenomenal Bosses
"Trendin' off a selfie...Chanel me! OFF DA TOP SHELF PLEASE" - Saweetie
It goes without saying that graduate school isn't for the faint of heart. And if you're a black woman in The Academy, navigating the toxic and often hostile environment of academia can make for some pretty 'bad' days. And doubts. And fears. And tears. You may find yourself crawling into the depths of yourself wondering if you can really do it. You can. You may find yourself crying out and into the folds of your couch wondering it it will get any easier. It will.
There are going to be some bad days, no matter where you are in your journey. Whether you're a first year Master's student bustling with excitement straight out of college....or a busy Ph.D. student trying to adjust to your overwhelming journey... or a non-traditional student who studies by day and feeds a baby by night, trying to balance 'all the things'. Some days you may not be able to pick yourself up by your bootstraps. Other days may warrant a well-deserved mental health break. No matter what 'kind' of bad day it is, there are a few things you deserve to know to take control of your day...and not let the day take control of you.
1. It's okay. When the going gets tough, sometimes the tough... doesn't know how to get going. That's okay. You wanna cry? Cry. You wanna stay in bed? Stay in bed. You need to talk to someone? Call. But whatever it is...give yourself permission to feel it. Lean into the tough emotions, but don't feel you have to navigate into a dark abyss alone.
2. Consider scheduling mental health day. Everyone has their own level of stress they can put up with and only you know what your level is. When you feel like your levels are reaching its peak, set up the 'away' email, unplug for your phone, stay in bed until noon, curl up on the couch...do what you need to do, to reset. Remember, the work and 'to-do' list will always be there (ALWAYS). But your peace won't. Protect it.
3. Have you considered therapy? Around 34% of graduate students experience moderate to severe depression. Thus, self-care practices during graduate school is essential. This isn't just sleep and exercise. It is also therapy and having an outlet when the semester becomes a whirlwind, when you need to think about your work capacity, or when you're trying to balance school, family/friends, and dating. You don't have to be everything to yourself. It's okay to get help. Find a therapist near you on www.psychologytoday.com.
4. Think about your last bad day. Sometimes bad days creep like TLC and make us feel like an ending is inevitable. Like we can't make it through. But, let me challenge you to think. How did you get over your last bad day? What did you do? Do you need to do something differently? I think you'll find...you're more resilient than you think.
5. Turn it around. So, you've had a bad day. You're taking one down. You sing a sad song just to turn it around. You dance to Beyonce' to turn it around. You write in your journal to turn it around. You do what you need to do...to turn it around. And most importantly, you don't ruin anyone else's. :)