I’m not crazy, but people have given me looks that suggest otherwise. These situations usually occur after I’ve mentioned I’m a graduate student. The probability of receiving the “look” increases when I say I’m in the Behavioral Neuroscience program, and it increases further when I explain that it will take 5-7 years to graduate. When I explain a post-doctoral fellowship is routine, the look is a near certainty.
“Well, you’ll be able to help diagnose my migraines then” was one well-intentioned response.
Cue head banging against the wall.
Sometimes though, I think they might be on to something. Or prolonged periods spent in a dark room talking to rodents is doing funny things to me. Because why else am I still excited to be on this career path? It’s not the promise of riches, I can tell you that much. Mention the current funding situation in a room filled with graduate students, and you’ll wonder how a collective sigh could contain so much angst.
During my last break, I completed a 10 mile long obstacle course (Note: This has been another occasion for which my sanity has been questioned.) One of the hardest obstacles for me during the course was a curved wall participants run up. Think Ninja Warrior if you’re familiar with it. The first time I tried running up it, I wasn’t even close. It eventually took me 4 tries, 1 pep talk from a kind stranger, and 2 fellow participants pulling me up to get me on the top of that thing, after which I enjoyed a brief moment of pride. Then, I realized I needed to get down quickly because heights aren’t my thing.
Thus, I present to you my metaphor for this post: Graduate school is a 10 mile obstacle course.