Last month, I hit the 6 month mark of my internship, which means I'm halfway done. 6 months down, 6 months to go. The experience so far has been a combination of wonderful, hard, exhausting, and rewarding. There are days I feel like I'm on top of the world, and there are days I wonder, can I make it to Friday? The past 6 months have truly felt like a journey. In many ways, its hard for me to believe its only been 6 months; it feels like so much longer. Part of that, I think, is due to the fact that its the homestretch of this 6 year degree. I often hear marathon runners talk about the last few miles being the hardest, and though I'm far from a marathon runner, (understatement, I can't even run a mile), this Ph.D has been nothing short of a grueling race, filled with doubt, excitement, success, and detours. But these last few miles have been filled with their own challenges, their own successes, and their own lessons. So I thought I'd take a second to share a few of the biggest lessons I've learned during the past 6 months.
Being away from Matt is hard. Really hard. I know this one shouldn't surprise me, but it has. I knew being apart for this year would be hard, but I counted on weekend visits to reenergize me and get me going. I consider myself to be a strong independent woman, and I've never wanted to rely on a man (or anyone else for that matter) for happiness or strength. I of course love that Matt contributes to my happiness and strength, but prior to internship, I didn't really like the idea of relying on him for those things. But after the past 6 months, I've calmed down about that and realized that it is ok to rely on your partner to be a source of energy and joy. Not my only source of course, but a big one. Matt is definitely a big support, and being apart has taught me that's not just okay...that's totally awesome.
The current college generation is full of movers and shakers. I'm so tired of hearing people complain about today's youth. As someone who works closely with college students every single day, I can tell you that many of them are incredibly thoughtful, creative, dedicated, and resilient. Sure, they're attached to their phones, but that doesn't make them ungrateful or entitled. This generation has their own identity, and I think we need to spend more time appreciating it than criticizing it.
Good playlists are important for long drives. I travel four hours each weekend, and about two weekends into this year, I realized I couldn't get through the commute without my Britney and throwback Missy Elliot jams.
Social support is critical. Internship is exhausting, hard, and emotionally draining. I get through it because I have three other girls going through the same thing with me. We were friends for about a week, and then we literally became living life rafts for each other. When one is stressed, the others help her pick it up. When two want to give up, the other two remind them, "You can do it!"And when all four of us are stressed...well, we open a bottle of wine.
Netflix is a lifesaver. This might seem like a lame lesson, but for a girl who doesn't have cable (or any tv channels for that matter), Netflix is my go to option for cheap and easy Monday-Thursday entertainment. I typically work 60 hours a week, so to have 342 episodes of Numbers at the click of a button...well, it means no effort entertainment for me.
I'm good at what I do. Sometimes during this crazy journey, I get caught up in all I have to learn, all that I don't know. I've been a student for so long, that's it's easy to focus on what I'm not doing right or what needs to be better. I'm not perfect, and I won't ever be. But this year has reminded me that it's ok to slow down, and realize I do know what I'm doing, and I'm doing a pretty good job at it.
Six months down, six to go. Bring it on :)