One thing I’ve realized since finishing graduate school is that there’s a comfort to being a student that I never realized, at least until I wasn’t one anymore. For the first time in 15 years, I can’t check the box that says I’m a student and with it comes a few realizations.
Being a student (whether undergrad or grad) is very comfortable. Yes, you have classes, organizations, exams, dating, etc to worry about. But, you have a few years of your life planned out for you. The same can not be said for when you’re not a student.
In addition to my research, I have to worry about what happens next – looking for jobs, where to live, when to start a family, and so on. Your life is no longer a clear “chapter” of your life, which has an end that seems too far away to worry about. Your life now has many more, smaller chapters without a discrete start/end, often overlapping, that require constant thought and action.
I write this as I’m looking for jobs – there is a sense of chaos in looking for specific jobs, writing cover letters, revising resumes, and preparing for interviews, all while keeping an eye on my contract that determines when I must find another job. While it’s just a natural progression in life, it’s something that I took for granted while I was a student. The end seemed so far away and everything was nicely planned out.
Maybe our lives would be simpler if we lived in 4-year time blocks, with advisors that guided us through those years.