It’s here. For years I never thought it would come. The last paper in turned in, the last project done. The last pointless lecture about “real life lessons” that adult students don’t need has been given and the cap and gown and hood are hanging and ready for the ceremony. I’ve reached the end of my grad school journey and I have to ask myself what I’ve learned:
1. Alcohol is essential to all life and research papers. Much like my famous writing role models, I’d like to thank alcohol for being the silent partner in all my writing endeavors. One day, I’ll dedicate a book to you. You deserve it kid.
2. 99% of the time, no one knows what’s going on. That obnoxious kid in the back who has an answer for everything? If you’re pulling half your answers out of your ass, there’s a good chance he is too. One of the best pieces of advice i got as I started this journey was not to be intimidated by people who act like they know everything. There’s a good chance they’re just as confused as you are.
3. You can’t control everything. I was the worst control freak in undergrad. The leader on every project, up until 3am redoing everyone else’s work and making sure ever footnote and comma were Pulitzer perfect. And you know what? It wasn’t worth it. Those extra 6-10 hours per paper probably didn’t make a huge difference in my grade, but the time I missed with my friends made an impact those relationships and my own personal growth. Grad school taught me to let go. Work hard, and do my best, and then let go. My best isn’t going to be good enough for everyone and I can’t miss out on the good things in life because of it.
4. Grades don’t matter. I think undergrad Claire just had a heart attack. If time machines existed, she would have popped out of no where and beat me with my own textbooks. But really, as long you’re doing your best, trying your hardest, and passing your classes, grad school grades don’t matter. So much of a classroom grade is arbitrary and based on the professor’s opinion, mood, and lunch choices that all we can do is create something we’re proud to put our name on. As long as I learn something, I consider the class a success.
5. Trust your own instincts and take risks. Don’t be afraid to jump off that metaphorical cliff (or a real one if that’s your jam). There is no success without risk. Your instincts are important. Don’t ignore them because there’s a good chance that they will lead you towards something amazing. If it’s scary, dive in head first. I can promise you won’t regret it.
That’s what 2 years and a mountain of student debt got me. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t know if school changed me or life changed me- and I would bet on a combination of both- but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Bring on the world.