Thinking out loud: graduation, career choices, and ANXIETY

I will be done with graduate school in less than three weeks, and I am freaking out.

I have so much to do in the next few weeks:

  • pack up and move all my crap from my apartment into the friend’s house where I will be crashing for my first month out of graduate housing (so I have time to apartment-hunt more calmly than if I were doing it now, along with everything else) Estimate: 20 hrs of work
  • write and present a proposal for my cancer immunology class Estimate: 12-18 hours of work
  • write/polish my proposal for Molecular Mechanisms of Human Diseases, my other class Estimate: 8-12 hours of work
  • read papers for and participate in 3 more class discussions Estimate: 3-4 hours per discussion, so 9-12 hours total
  • study for and pass my metabolism-block exam Estimate: 8-12 hours over the next two weeks
  • continue to write bloggy things Potentially infinite time commitment
  • continue to apply for jobs Potentially infinite time commitment

And honestly, I am capable of all of that.  I have moved so many times in my life now, one more shouldn’t be a big deal. Writing those proposals is mostly a matter of gritting my teeth and pushing through while somehow managing to ignore my inner perfectionist that wants them to be developed to the level one would expect for oral qualifying exams, not a classroom exercise. Reading papers ranges from boring-but-straightforward to actually-quite-interesting, and studying for biology exams and kicking ass on them is pretty much my super power.  Regarding the blogging and the job apps… the world will not end if I drop both of those things for the next 2-3 weeks. Really, it won’t.

I know all this. I also know that while I am freaking out about only having about 4hrs/week of employment currently scheduled for April, I have enough money to make it through that month and I also have a lot of potential job opportunities that still have time to come through. I also know that I have an amazing girlfriend who wants to get an apartment with me and help support me while I find a job, and I have lots of kick-ass friends who will also lend a hand in whatever way they can.

Basically, on the cognitive side of things, I am capable of logic-ing my way out of any panic attack I could possibly be having right now….

….but that doesn’t matter, because my body could not give less of a damn about my stupid LOGIC. Despite my logic and comforting friends and doing yoga and riding my bike as much as I can, there is currently so much tension in all of my muscles that I find it difficult to sit still or sleep at night. I still feel constantly on edge and struggle to focus. I am using every damn tool in my toolbox and still feel like I’m fighting to prevent my constant anxiety from boiling over into all-out panic attacks on a daily basis.

And I know what I’m really anxious about isn’t all those things I have to get done in the next few weeks, or even the money worries.  I’m anxious because my life after April is a big blank space. I have no idea what is coming. I have a plan for moving forward, and I think it will work, but it is entirely dependent on my efforts and my luck and I don’t trust either of those things.  I’m really anxious because I’m fighting against the fear of being worthless.

For awhile, this blog may be mostly thinking out loud, and not much of the carefully-constructed/citation-heavy stuff that I’d like to write. I think the thinking-out-loud is valuable too, but not being able to write all the things I have ideas for is eating at me. I finally have a place to work on my writing where I can actually get feedback and I’m busy writing stupid-ass proposals for classes I don’t give a fuck about. I cannot even put into words how frustrating that is.

Rargh. So that’s where I’m at. I know that I’ll make it, but I’m frustrated as hell and in desperate need of a massage.

Just three more weeks. I can do this.



  1. Ahh, ouch. Just to say that I’m rooting for you. The thinking out loud IS valuable but yep, I hear on on the frustration front. I’ll certainly still be here when this period is over and you have the chance to share your awesomely referenced thinky articles. 🙂

    As for myself, I am anticipating being in a similar position this time next year as I race to get my thesis written and submitted whilst trying to find a job (woo, I have NO IDEA what the hell I want to do, don’t ask silly questions!) and, in all likelihood, moving cities again. Eep. I am currently dealing with this by ignoring it as much as I possibly can. We’ll see how that works out…

  2. Pingback: keely the science writer | a little dose of keelium

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