Feeling Like an Accident and Other Problems with Inferiority

Being in grad school is really weird.

For one, many of the people I graduated high school and undergrad with are moving on with their lives, getting Real Adult Jobs and starting families, while I’m still in school, running on an academic schedule, and trying to find a job that lets me go sit in the stats lab for hours at a time trying to get a handle on the math class I didn’t actually want to take.

But mostly, it’s because my entire academic career so far has felt like an accident. Like I ended up in this amazing PhD program because someone put my name in the wrong pile and now I’m just muddling along trying to trick people into thinking that I actually am smart. It might be because my cohort is very talented, and of them, I am the only one not funded by the university. I’m isolated from them except for when we’re in class, and I miss out on the collaboration and discussion they have that comes from sitting in the same office all day. So when we do get to class, they’re all on the same page, and I’m a chapter behind. When we discuss things in class I approach it from one angle and that angle is wrong because everyone else has decided on it before they even got to class.

Part of it might be because I took different classes from them last semester. I did my master’s degree at this same university so some of the core classes at the PhD level, I had already finished, and needed to substitute different ones. So they had an entire extra semester to get to know each other. They got an extra five months to discuss ideas and study together, while I was working off campus, a full twenty-five miles away. So even if they tell me about an impromptu study session now (they don’t), I can’t make it because by the time I get there, they’ve moved on. They can spend their entire day on campus focusing on school, while I need to have a job and schedule my day around commuting.

I spend most of my time on campus wandering around looking for a place to study. I don’t have access to the office, so I need to find an abandoned corner somewhere in the library to get my work done, which has left me feeling like I’m not actually part of the program, like I don’t actually belong there. And that’s a terrible feeling, the last time I felt this way I was kicked out of law school and just lost for six months.

I am tired. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t belong, like I have to smile and go along with things because everyone else came to a decision without me, and I’m tired of pretending I’m having fun.

But it’s not going to stop me, because I’m pretty damn smart, so fuck that shit, I have work to do.

 

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What went through my head as I took the GRE (lots of cussing)

What is that awful beeping? Shit fuck hell damn it’s my alarm. What time is it? 6:00. Who the fuck wakes up at 6:00? Sociopaths, that who. This is the murder hour. 6am is the reason for road rage. Those fuckers are sleep deprived.

……Beeping again. God damn I hit the snooze button. Why did I hit the snooze button? Now I don’t have time to shower. Fuck. Okay I have to wake up and get dressed…

Dammit. Hit the snooze button again. Okay. Up for real this time.

God damn why did I turn on the light it is so fucking bright in here is that an extra lightbulb?! No, wait, normal amount of lightbulbs. I have to pee. Bathroom bathroom bathroom. Dammit, cat, why are you sleeping in the tub? Turning the shower on just to spite you…hehehe. No, get out. Out, out, out, I will let you drink from the faucet later, let me brush my teeth, wait no I have to pee. Okay. Teeth. Where the fuck is my toothbrush? Did mom get a new cleaning lady? Did she hide it? Why would she hide my toothbrush? Oh wait. I left it in the shower next to my toothpaste. Fancy ass toothpaste. Better whiten my fucking teeth…

Okay clothes. Dammit I left the pants I wanted to wear at dad’s house. Wear are my legging? Oh. Laundry. Should have done that three days ago. Oops. Do these leggings smell weird? *sniff* Nope, we’re good. Leggings it is. Sweater…where are you sweater? Dammit cat, your fur is all over my sweater. Big shirt…let’s go big shirt…covers my ass,good enough.

Hair. Shit ow ow ow ow why am I brushing this?! Detangler where are you?! Ugh. Mom took it. Not going in there. Um…it looks okay right? Right. I’m hungry.

Breakfast. Ugh I hate breakfast. Who drank half my smoothie? Motherfucker’s gonna get a beat down with my tiny fists of fury! Hahaha Nick Fury. Avengers. Jeremy Renner…wait. Breakfast. Half a smoothie. Let me stick an applesauce pouch in my bag for later.

Fuck it’s cold out. But I’m not going back in for a sweater, mom will just say told you so. In the car. Wake up, GPS, time to go. Come onnnn. Fine. I’m starting without you. Dammit, I forgot my water bottle. Not going back. Radio. Talk show. Talk show. Talk show. WHY do we need to hear your opinions on tattoos? No one cares. Wear sleeves. Done. Where am I? Oh. Wait. When did the ramp get to the other side of the highway. Fuck you, road construction. HOLY SHIT WHERE DID THAT SEMI COME FROM?! Okay I’m still alive. Let’s make it there in once piece, okay? I can’t get into grad school if I’m dead. Okay. Off the highway. Why is my GPS telling me I’m here when I’m clearly in front of a Walmart? Oh. There it is. 7:30, right on time, let’s go.

WAIT. WHY ARE THEY CLOSED?!? Is it the right day? What time is it? What’s going on?!?!?! Okay. Just gonna sit in my car and wait. I’m watching you, Prometric Testing Center….why are these radio hosts still talking oh my god. Oh look, they turned on a light. I’m going in. Okay. Forms to fill. What, I have to write in cursive?! Who writes in cursive? I haven’t done this since the third grade. “You’ll use this all the time in high school” my ass. I barely handwrite anything any more. Forget cursive…

Okay. Starting the GRE. The hell sort of writing prompt is this? Wouldn’t a better way to judge my writing be by asking for a writing sample on something I have more than thirty minutes to write? I have a twenty five page paper about legalizing prostitution to lower the overall crime rate I could submit. Or fifteen pages on how Sadaam Hussein was a megalomaniac. But this? This I can do nothing with. Good thing it’s only three points. Bullshit cannon, go! Okay. Next prompt. This is slightly more manageable. Slightly. Still, that prostitution paper got me an A in capstone, you should really read it…

Alright. Verbal. I’m good at this. Shit. What does that word even mean? It’s got way too many letter. Damn damn damn damn damn. Okay. No. Reading comprehension. Shit fuck hell damn I hate this it’s so boring whyyyyy…. I’m so tired. Why am I so tired? Did I even sleep? Ugh. I hate taking tests. I’m a bad test taker. Can I write these guys a note saying I’m brilliant in real life but suck at taking tests? Probably wouldn’t fly. Okay. Done. Math. I fucking hate math. Hey, this isn’t so awful. SHIT. What the fuck? Are these numbers even real? How? I- I’m just gonna cry for a sec, okay? I know you can see me, test proctor, but just ignore me for a sec.

Okay. Let’s finish the test. Verbal. Math. Verbal. Math. Verbal. Okay. One of those was experimental, right? Let’s hope it was the math because man I fucked that shit up. What time is it? Holy hell, 10:20? I finished the GRE in just two hours and twenty minutes? Am I super human? No. Damn. Okay. Let’s go home without getting squashed by a semi.

Nap time.

All My Best Ideas Happen in the Shower

You may have noticed I am very sporadic about posting. Sometimes I post four times a day, and then stop for weeks. There’s a simple explanation for this phenomenon:

I’m lazy. 

That’s all there really is. Some people are brilliant and talented and creative enough to churn out a post or more every single day and run wonderful blogs full of humor and ideas. I don’t.

When I do have a brilliant and creative idea, I tend to be doing something where I can’t rush to my computer or whip out my phone and start writing. And then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and then the brilliant idea will be shoved into the dark recesses of my mind, filed away amid the fears and worries about my uncertain future. This post, for example, was thought of in the shower, weeks ago. I thought to myself, “All my best ideas happen in the shower,” and then proceeded to think what a brilliant title for a post that would be. And then shampooed my hair, promptly forgetting about my lovely post title and omitting to come up with something to put in the body of the post. 

I thought about making it a tweet instead, confining it to Twitter’s 140 characters, nice and neat, “All my best ideas happen in the shower,” sent to 41 followers, 11 of which are spambots. But something felt off, like I should have more. Something that filled more than Twitter could handle, and something which Tumblr was not quite suited for. My 458 Facebook friends don’t give a toss about what I’ve got to say beyond clever captions on pictures of my cats, so you lot have to deal with my word vomit. Lucky for you I only have bouts of creativity every few weeks. 

This post has no point, I just wanted to use the phrase “my best ideas happen in the shower.”