It’s only my second summer in graduate school and I’m doing it all wrong. I know this not because I’m worried about my productivity or from comparing myself to my peers, but because my body has been telling me so.
My COVID test results came in a few days ago: negative. A relief. But I still wake up groggy, with headaches, feeling slightly congested, worn out, not having slept well the night before, no appetite, not able to eat well…these symptoms sometimes roll over me all at once, while other times they rotate, a twisted tag team event that keeps me guessing each morning.
The combination of a viral pandemic and the surge in antiracist interest means that since March, the online format of my work has become crucial and since May, the content of the work I do is in high demand. It means I haven’t stopped working. In between the crying and isolation and distance from family, I’m emailing too much, creating web pages, sifting through bad news, and sitting through So. Many. Zoom meetings. But since most news causes me to lose faith in humanity, I work to stay distracted. Sometimes. And because I’m a Good Grad Student™, I also work because I’ve internalized enough pressure to keep me anxious. On good days, I do like my work (, she rationalized to herself).
This time last year I sobbed for three mornings in a row, identified trauma in my grad school experience, and then went on a hot springs trip with my family.
This year, I saw some Indiana scenery I guess, while driving to a COVID test site.
During the year, I push and push, holding out for school breaks like they’re lifelines. Winter holidays and summer breaks are for recovery. Only this year, my strategy has backfired. No one gets to have a summer vacation now. Instead, we have enjoyments like quarantine, full-time childcare, and Netflix dating shows. Terrible stuff.
So I’m taking a week off to cram in a year’s worth of recovery, from graduate school, the pandemic, and racism (and the attempts to address it).
Wish me luck.
I’ve already compromised and agreed to one Zoom meeting.