academia, graduate school, guest post, lifestyle, writing

Work: A Piece on How to Survive Grad School

Guest Author Sarah Snyder is an M.A. student in Eastern Classics at St. John’s College. You can find out more about her on her academia page.

How to survive in graduate school?  Arrange to be alone with your work.  Make it your being, tether yourself to the enrichment of your own mind, and you will emerge knowing a little.  Follow your intellect and your smallest whims, and you will not go astray.  The creative mind succeeds only when it trusts itself alone.  Allow your education to become the ink on your skin, but amorphous and accommodating as a tattoo.  Love every second of your time spent reading.  Make yourself love each word, to feel around inside it.  Read one word a day to begin. Find the joy in your work, find the center of a circumference without equidistant points.  Keep the meaning and the happiness not in the peripherals, but in front.  Make sure to leave some behind, since not everything is sure to work at every time.  Do not allow habits to become the nuisance of your thinking hours.  Allow your mind to approach you with its ideas, give it your attention full.  Make your relationship with your studies known, never disrespect the gift of education with your inadequacy and laziness.  But do not fail to recognize corruption when ideology is present, and do not neglect your own conscious mind as the basis for right and wrong, true and false.  Be alone with your work.  Understand that you’re not alone when the voices of those engaged in their own pursuits may echo through you—Emerson, Homer, Woolf may be the closest alliance of your life, do not allow time and space to make crude your connection.  Make yourself responsible for your intellectual growth; cultivate love between your ego and your inner teacher.  Practice going within and without your mind so that you can see the difference between subjectivity and objectivity.  Ignore and subvert both accordingly, finally realize each simultaneously, alone with your work.

adulthood, lifestyle, youth

How to Be a Toys-R-Us Kid

Sitting in my apartment next to my sleepy German Shepard, I can’t help but wonder when I became an adult. Being in my mid twenties, married and in grad school all add up to something. Paying rent, cooking my own meals and having deep literary conversations with scholars who wear glasses add up to something too. Why can’t I shake the urge to eat Frosted Flakes in my jammies and watch Spongebob? Why do I get a little sad when I have to decide between having a Snickers Bar or a salad for dinner? When did I grow up?

Baffled, I drove to my older sister’s house and posed this very question. Over a glass of wine and a plate of cheddar, she wrinkled her nose: a sign that she was even more stumped than I was. Does being an adult happen once you buy your first house? Or do you feel like an adult once you have kids?

Over the phone, my seventy something year old grandmother and I continued the investigation. Her life has been rich with children, grandchildren, and a couple great grand kids. Some of her friends have long since moved away or passed on. Yet her answer was, “I dunno. I still feel sixteen, at least in my mind.” Perhaps you’re reading this and shaking your head. Maybe you’ve even discovered the secret to being an adult (which is probably to drink prune juice or something silly like that). In any case, I have compiled 3 tips for staying young in your mind, which is really all that matters.

1. Laugh (a lot): One thing that babies and kids do a lot is laugh, giggle, smile, and chuckle. Do what the babies do: laugh at yourself, at other people, and at silly sounds. This will release serotonin, which will make you feel good.

2. Avoid saying “I’m too old for that”: For my sixteen-year-old grandma, you’re as old as you feel. Constantly reinforcing the idea that you’re too old for something will cut out a lot of fun stuff like roller coasters, carousels, Chuck E. Cheese’s, amusement parks, Haunted Houses, Trick or Treating, the list goes on.

3. Get Messy: If I’ve learned anything from children it’s that they are really messy. Try doing something messy like finger painting, playing in the rain, or jumping into a pile of leaves. Adults work so hard to be neat and clean. Getting messy only helps release your inner kid.

After living a quarter century, I’m proud to say that I will probably not be an adult for another ten years. Maybe going to my twenty-year high school reunion will transform me. For now, I’m going to have some ice cream for lunch.

  Do you have any tips for being a kid? Leave a comment and let’s hear it.