Friday July 2nd

The Human Limit and Burnout

This week I definitely neared burnout

  • One of the activities I usually do received less attention, and even though I got accolades about all the others, even one person remarked that they could tell I was “putting in a lot of hours”. And it was true; this Thursday I woke up to my lights still being on, as I realized that I had, in fact, never gotten up to turn them off, because I had casually fallen asleep on myself while working on a task.
  • I can’t say that this week was spectacularly busy, but looking back, there was one thing I failed to do these last couple of days, and that was take time off for myself. I ended up spending a day of my weekend (usually reserved for rest) with a friend and did a lot of walking (and my feet suffered; I’m not even kidding..they’re currently still a bit swollen; I also broke out in hives, apparently, too), and then felt stressed out for the rest of the week that I was behind.
  • And then apologizing and feeling badly for that one group that I usually have work together on, but was behind for. And getting up at 4am to complete another task (that one turned out just fine; apparently I can write some bug-free code without ever running it! Yay me!)

Long weekend

  • I plan to take my usual time to rest during this long weekend. After all, theoretically I do have an extra day. And this time it’s definitely important because I don’t want to burn out. On the other hand, I managed to get some bolani shipped all the way from California to Vermont, because I was up at midnight one night asking myself if by chance Vermont had bolani, which is something I ate reguarly in California, because there was a vendor at my local farmer’s market. And I found a version of something I consume a lot in my home country, too! (it’s a drink that’s very popular in the Caribbean) So two wins as far as I’m concerned.

So what’s up

  • I have some coding stuff to work on for three projects (two of them are not extensive), and my assignment to do.
  • I’ve also been asked to speak at some upcoming events, write a proposal, and am working on a paper, in addition to my internship and open source gig.
  • So in short, it’s been a lot. And for the most part, I’ve been okay, but the only thing on my mind this week has been “when does the week end?”, because I am just that exhausted. It just feels like I am nearing the end of what I can give outside of myself to others right now.
  • So I guess this means I am nearing the point of having to excuse myself and spend a bit of time in solitude. I read the book “Hooded”, this week, and the author really put into perspective planning and pacing for me. And also, what to expect and how to plan for my five-ish years.
  • Also, I seem to really have found my groove with this group I’ve been hanging out with, and I think that’s the direction I’ll probably end up going for the rest of grad school. I think I can spend enough time going deeply in this direction. It’s a lot of work, but all the signs seem to be there for me to get the support I need, and continue being a part of that community. I really believe that a PhD has a lot to do with that; introducing yourself and finding your community, and contributing to that space. So a lot of the work is really about finding what that community is.
  • A lot of the time, it is a community you’re probably already a part of. This one was right under my nose, most definitely. It dawned on me this week, and I told my advisor, “remember even before I started, I had asked you to write me a reference letter to this event?” and he admitted that I had. And it made me wonder why I had let silly people even doubt that I was capable, because I was already part of that community. It’s just much easier in general to also continue in a community you’re already a part of, because as things get tough, you’re going to need support from your “roots” in that community.

Impossible Tasks

  • It’s very strange looking back to think that I am even in grad school, and that things are going the way they are. It is a strange thing to admit, but I realize now how many people I once thought were truly god-like were people whose teachers just really set them up for success. Yes, grad school is full of smart people, but what a lot of people on the outside don’t see is how many teachers are vouching for them early on, giving them research work, propping them up. And here I managed to get in without any of that. A teacher didn’t make a back room deal with another professor, nor did someone hand me research that would have been my ticket to getting in. So it was really like climbing a really steep hill, from which I could not see the top. And it makes me feel even prouder that it happened.
  • But even moreso, I wished that people in that world would be more honest about that stuff. I don’t think it will happen, but if we want to talk about students who particularly didn’t have those advantages, perhaps we shouldn’t be using examples of students who had professors gunning for them, telling other professors to take them, etc. I’d like to hear more about the students who got into grad school against all odds. I know they’re out there, but surprisingly, they’re few and far between to come by. Anyways, I’m probably just babbling because I’m exhausted and need to take a break before my next meeting in 15 minutes.
  • Just a few years ago, I was on a boat for July 4th, with no idea what my future would really entail. It’s strange to think now I’m in a completely different state, in grad school. Life is weird.

And that’s it

Written on July 2, 2021