Friday, February 6, 2015

The waaaaiting is the hardest part.

Oh Tom Petty, you wise man. 
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: graduate school is just one series of waiting after another, after another... after another.
I'm currently sitting in 2 major waiting pools:
  • This week marked the submission of my IRB to my school for my dissertation. Something that should have been done a long time ago, but due to some wonderful mishaps and setbacks, is only just happening now. Either way, I've finally turned in my IRB! 
  • This week also marked the submission of my rankings for internship. No, this isn't an old entry, this is in fact the 2nd year in a row I'm dealing with this internship process.

So far, this year's internship process as been much better than last years. Last year in Phase I I applied to 15 sites and got 1 interview. This year, I applied to 21 sites and got 9 interviews. So already things are looking up. In the last few months, I've traveld to a number of places including Tennessee, Vermont, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and even my home state of Washington. I also had phone interviews with Alaska (again) and Nevada. Not to mention a price tag for all of this years internship stuff coming in at roughly $4,700. Yikes! I remember some students talking to us early on in grad school about how much money to save for this process. They said "around $2,000". So I knew it was an "investment" but I didn't realize it would be almost a $5,000 investment and right around the holidays and that last month before I get my next loan check. J was super supportive throughout the whole thing and really worked his butt off to make sure we had enough money for everything else.

My final ranking list process was much more difficult than I had anticipated. Last year was simple. I have one shot, therefore they are my top (and only) choice. This year, I agonized over it for weeks, had multiple discussions with my supervisor, my internship adviser, my fiance, friends in the program, family, and I just could not figure out what to do. Everyone just kept saying "trust your gut" and I think if one more person would have said it to me, I would have punched them in theirs. My "gut" was sending me mixed, conflicting messages that may have been written in code. I couldn't figure out if certain things I was just "over analyzing" like I always do or if i was correctly interpreting "a sign". I mean how does anyone ever decipher between the two?

Ranking lists were due on the 4th. My anxiety symptoms increased exponentially over the past few weeks and I couldn't function properly, mentally or emotionally. I'm still recovering I think. I thought it would leave me feeling relief after turning them in, but I still felt exactly as unsure and worried as I had the previous weeks. I did have a moment yesterday, where I felt a small amount of relief when I started thinking about internship. It was more of a "now we just wait to find out where we're moving!" not an "oh no, this program is so far away, or this one's (blank) rotation isn't as good as this other sites" or "what if I miss out on this place because I rank this other one higher?" it was just a small feeling of excitement about when and where we would be going. It was a fleeting feeling that was quickly washed over by impatience and annoyance with the process, but I felt it nevertheless. I'm feeling confident that I will match this year in Phase I. I'm hoping I don't have to endure Phase II again and that we can start planning for our future finally.

I read over last year's entries about this whole process. I remember vividly the feelings of disappointment, the blow to my self esteem, and the ache in my heart I felt. I also remember how long it took to rebuild my self confidence after that horrific process. That almost sounds like an exaggeration, but having been through all of that, I would say it's more like an understatement. 
I'm still rebuilding. There's still a part of me that feels angry and hurt and offended that I have to be doing it all over again. I was at one of my interviews and saw a couple people from my school and my same year. They said things like "Oh god, I'm going to be so angry if I don't match!" (mind you, this is their first year applying) I said "Uh...yeah, me too. Given that this is my 2nd time going through all of this, I'll be pretty upset too". To which one of them replied "Yeah if that happens you might as well quit and become a life coach". I said "Whoa, that's not helpful. Quitting with about $400,000 in debt probably isn't the best choice" and another one chimed in "What? Life coaches make pretty good money". Wow. These are my "supportive peers"? Just give up and become something that doesn't require the Ph.D. Thanks guys. I sat there silently wishing they wouldn't match so they could understand what it feels like, but then I quickly took that back because, no matter how pompous and ignorant these people were, no one deserves to feel that shitty about themselves.

Match day for Phase I is February 20th, 10am EST. Last year I woke up every 45 minutes to check my email on my phone, thinking they'd send it early. They did, I think mine came a little before 5am PST, but each time I woke up and checked (realistically probably about 16 times) made for some horrible sleep. I'm hoping to not do that again this year. Regardless if I read my email at 3am or 7am, the result will be the same so I might as well get some rest. I'm not sure what to do with myself during the next 2 weeks. This time, 2 weeks from now, I will know the result. I just have to "wait it out" until then. I've got way too much time on my hands from now until then.

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