In one of my classes last semester, the prof described a poster that hung in the graduate department where he earned his PhD. It would have looked something like this:
I find myself thinking about the poster’s message a LOT, not because I think it’s inspirational, but because it irks the hell out of me. Why do I find it irksome, you ask? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you via a cathartic rant.
You know how people say that money can’t buy the important things in life? I’mma gonna go ahead and call bullsh*t on that one. I’m not saying that money can buy you true love, but it sure as frack makes living life that much easier/less-stressful, relationships included. One of my favourite internet writers wrote an excellent article on all this a while back (NSFW text), he says it better than I could here.
You can go ahead and disagree with me (that’s what the comment section is for), but after spending the past week or so realizing that 1) the funding I was counting on to get me through the rest of this semester had fallen through; 2) due to the collaborative nature of my program, the government is having a hard time agreeing to shell out the student funding I need to cover basic expenses that would prevent me from dropping out of school and, oh you know, starving; and finally 3) the people in Financial Aid now know me as the “Stress Crier.”
Here’s the thing: I know I’ve now got people doing their best to ensure that things work out for me financially, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel like a moron for how “un-ducklike” all this stress made me this past week, especially in regards to handling my school work. I joke about having no shame, and for the most part I don’t, but in truth I promise I’m pretty self-aware about everything I do. It’s ok if you want to laugh with me over my un-ducklike ability to make any and every situation awkward, because I think that’s funny too and I like making people laugh; it’s not ok when my un-ducky-ness somehow translates into “she fails at life.”
Why is there this constant pressure to hide the fact that life can be stressful? Why is it that when someone publicly admits that they’re struggling outside of a therapeutic context, the response is all too often one of social awkwardness instead of compassion? I’m not saying that I look forward to the day when society can undergo a communal nervous breakdown, I’m just saying that I think it’s ridiculous to feel uncomfortable or surprised someone honestly answers “not so good” to the question “how are you?”
Alls I’m saying is this: life is hard. Admitting that this is so shouldn’t make you feel like a lesser person. Just because grad school and I weren’t exactly best friends this past week doesn’t make me a bad student, or any less deserving of my place in this program than any of my colleagues. People aren’t ducks, and they shouldn’t feel the need to be in the first place.
Can I get an amen? Or not. Whatever you feel like, comment away!