I’ve been told many times by many different people (i.e., advisors, faculty members, fellow grad students, and colleagues) that “grad students don’t get to have fun,” “grad students should live in the lab,” and “you’ll have time for a life AFTER grad school.” Well, you know what, I call bullshit.
If you live and breathe academia you’re not living a full life and, honestly, you probably haven’t taken a deep breath in years. I know this because I was consumed by the demands of academic life for the better part of a decade, and the only thing I had to show for it was a 12-page C.V.
Let yourself be the complex, healthy, full, multifaceted person you are -- you aren’t just an academic and you aren’t defined by your academic achievements. You’re a living, breathing, beautiful human being. You are a real person with a whole host of desires and facets of your complex personhood that exist and flourish well outside of the halls of your department. So let yourself embrace all of the components of your life, both academic and otherwise.
Your worth is NOT measured by your productivity! You are so much more than your academic accomplishments and the time you spend in the confines of your lab. Plus, the time you spend on yourself outside of academia will only ever improve the quality of your work, so it is a win-win.
I received a very important piece of advice recently, and I think many of you would benefit from it, too – you don’t want to be a part of a department/lab that is just looking for lifeless, production-focused workhorse. You want to work in an environment that values not only successful academics but also healthy, happy human beings.
So, give yourself a break. Let loose a little. Let yourself have fun. Let yourself take time off. Let yourself live in the “real world” sometimes, too.
Your work can wait, and mine can, too. So here is a picture of me in a rare moment where I’m taking my own advice and having a little fun.