Balancing Grad School Life
Andres Mora Mata
Even before starting graduate school, one of the major topics I listened to was about not devoting your whole life to the lab. When I first heard that, I did not know how to take it. Is this a synonym for not working hard? Would it reflect an uninterested image of myself to my research group? How would my performance be if I fully committed to working all day, every day?
Throughout my first year as a grad student, in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, it was difficult to define boundaries between work, school, and personal time. There were days I felt driven to teach my discussion sections and to learn new topics in my classes. Some of these high driven days were longer than usual and motivated not only by curiosity but also by deadlines. Fully committed to the “graduate student life” felt like burnout by the end of the first year. I was able to understand the idea of not devoting all the time you have in a day to school, lab, or teaching.
If you are planning to go to graduate school, give yourself time through the day to do something you absolutely love doing that is not related to your responsibilities. Rock climbing, listening to the new album of your favorite artist, going to a comedy show, walking in the park, playing a game, watching your favorite movie… The list goes on and on. Multiple studies back up this statement. The benefit from leisure activities is present in different forms and combinations: (1) organizations may benefit by encouraging their employees to consider creative activities to recover from work duties (2) improvement of the psychological and physical well-being of the employee.
In my personal time, I manage a radio show on the school’s radio station and DJ on the weekends. This has allowed me to meet wonderful people that I would not have met otherwise or realize they’ve been a huge support for me to keep me driven and focused on my goals towards earning my degree.
Edited by Rachel Alvarado