Since the academic year came to an end last week, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on my first year as a sociology graduate student. Since quitting my job and moving across the country, my life looks a lot different today than it did a year ago. For starters, I don’t grind my teeth at night anymore.
It has certainly been a humbling year. I've gone from a professional with some expertise in my field to a novice again. Having no formal sociology background whatsoever, I have often felt behind (particularly in terms of theory). The year has also been filled with highlights. I was paid to co-create the Culture Lab. I took a class on stratification, which I loved. I started to learn Stata and the basics of conducting a statistical analysis. I saw Madeline Albright and the Dali Lama both give a lecture. I presented my own research at my first ever sociology conference (Eastern Sociological Society) and visited Boston for the first time. Well, the presentation was fun, but I did find out that going to a conference where you don’t know anybody is not actually very great. Also, I was confronted with my terrible networking skills.
Time is a commodity…
Being accountable to myself at the end of the day and not juggling the demands of non-profit management has been good for my mental health. The glorification of busyness in academia is amusing on good days and annoying at other times. The weekly time commitment is high, but I find the stress level relatively low, the work fulfilling, and the hours flexible enough to far outweigh the time cost.
I've always known that cleaning is a favorite procrastination technique of mine. This year, I realized that planning my work is also a go-to procrastination technique. I've read books on successfully navigating graduate school, blogs on how to be competitive on the job market, and spent lots of hours reading about how to write.
... so is a Social Network
While introverted in nature, I appreciate the support and deep friendship of those in my life. I continue to be homesick for Seattle and for the community that surrounded me there. I have been fortunate to meet some fabulous new people here who I now call friends, but I continue to miss familiar faces. There’s just no substitute for time with folks who really know you. My department is full of friendly people, but I haven’t deeply connected with anyone yet. Also, it would be great if people stopped saying “homosexual” in class.
The Strength of Weak Ties
Last night, I realized that I’m thinking in a different way. Instead of reading the news and listening to NPR for only the content, I've started paying attention to who is doing the writing and the speaking. Partly a function of the D.C. area and partly attributed to my field of study, I now realize that I’m 1 or 2 steps removed from people making news and those reporting on it. My professors are often quoted on NPR and write for news outlets such as the Atlantic. It’s been surreal and a privilege to be learning from well-known sociologists. Not only am I blessed to be surrounded by such brilliant fellow graduate students and professors, but I've found most folks to be incredibly supportive and invested in mentoring me. I am excited for all of the opportunities summer brings.
Things finally seem to be settling into a status quo, almost 10 months since my partner and I packed up all of our things and moved across the country. I am so thankful for everyone who has played a part in helping me get to this experience today. I am especially blessed to have a partner (– who found employment here which provided some much needed stability! Oh, and who also had time to pass the BAR exam!) who is the most supportive person to have by my side as I follow my dreams.