A few thoughts on surviving my first semester of grad school

I was scared to come here, honestly. Moving to a new town, switching majors, being in a long distance relationship – this all sounded terrifying to me.

Fortunately, the last few months have been nothing short of wonderful.

I made new, amazing friends. My empty apartment became a cozy home. My days settled into a happy routine – and always began with a lazily made latte. I tried cooking new things. I went out to bars and danced to live music. I found time to actually read. I learned so much in my classes (and also learned how to swing dance). I worked out, went to yoga classes, and was even convinced into trying Zumba. I got a haircut. I flew across the country to work at a national lab. I wrote my first song.

And throughout the course of all these things, I started to feel a little different. A little brighter. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that was so until I stumbled across a poetry book at Webster’s today.

Inside the front cover, the author himself had scrawled a note to his mentor: More than anyone, your influence, your passion for poetry, sparked these poems, he wrote. Without your teachings, I’m not sure I would have arrived as a ‘poet’ until much later in life. For that, of course, I must thank you. I can assure you, what I become in this world owes no small sum to your dedication and kindness. I would be honored to have a fraction of your sincerity and compassion. I hope these young poems show something like potential. They are yours, somehow – your passion working through me….

For some reason, these words touched me deeply. Maybe it was because they were handwritten and felt like such a personal glimpse into a stranger’s life, maybe it was the inspiration and gratitude that was so evident in his tone – but for whatever reason, this note made me realize what was different these past few months: I’ve felt inspired.

Much like the poet who just published his first collection of poems, I have just begun a new chapter of my life that I am passionate and excited about, too.

Sometimes, our days just blur together and we find ourselves on autopilot. Sometimes we get so caught up in our schedules that we lose our true sense of what we’re waking up for every morning, what we’re ultimately fighting for. But I realized that I felt different these past few months because it was the first time in my student life that I had both the time and the interest to truly appreciate everything I was learning. And it turns out that when you are actually happy with what you’re doing, you live with a little more...purpose.

You live more deliberately.

And even though I’ve been warned that it’ll get harder, that research will be tough and that I will grow jaded and tired – guess what? I like living deliberately, so I am determined to hold on to the optimism and zeal that comes with new beginnings. I’m going to stay inspired, and stay curious.

Because why do what you’re doing if you can’t find meaning in it?

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