I stress bake… a lot… which my classmates and colleagues are figuring out because I brought them macarons last week and mini cupcakes today. I find that baking and cooking utilize the same prinicples as my scientific work, but I tend to be successful in the kitchen far more than I am in the lab. However, I could never pick up a chef’s hat full-time because I want it to stay as my decompression rather than have it become a responsibility. Unfortunately now, when I get the urge to bake/cook, I take a step back and try to figure out what is stressing me out.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been waking up at 5:30AM, getting to the lab by 6:30AM, and working until 5:30 or 6PM, at which point I either go to the gym or an evening event; I am usually home by 7:30. So long as I get enough sleep, this schedule hasn’t felt like it’s causing me any additional stress, and I’ve actually been productive in my time before class. My problem is that I feel like a boring person for not having anything to do outside of the lab or class. I volunteer with organizations when I have time and I keep telling myself that my social circle is expanding, but it never feels like I’m living the life that others think I should have in my situation.

I am very introverted and feel like I need extensive time alone to work up the energy to be surrounded by people at school/work. At the same time, I feel like I use my introvertedness as an excuse to not be social, not go out with friends, and generally stay home. I decorated my home so it would always feel welcoming, safe, and relaxing, so I find it very comfortable to spend much of my time there. When I’m home, Clooney (AKA the adorable fuzzball pictured above) keeps me company so it never feels like I’m entirely alone, but my house is usually very quiet.

To be honest, there’s no real purpose or conclusion to writing all of this. I was hoping I could convince myself to go out more and meet more people but, at this point, I’m too tired and I don’t make near enough money to spend on frivolities. At least I now make a pretty darn impressive macaron.

As for my actual graduate education, I am finishing up my fellowship applications, which are due at the end of this month, and am presenting my research from this past summer at a regional symposium next week. Thankfully, my work keeps me so busy I have no extra time to deal with my insecurities.

This week’s lectures in class actually made sense, for the most part, which is the first time all year that has happened. Granted, I’ve heard we were not prepared well for the homework, so that should be a draining use of my time this weekend.

Essentially, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of the grad student lifestyle, but nobody will tell me whether I’m doing it right or not.

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Posted by Megan Livingston

Ms. Livingston is a PhD student studying Biochemistry & Cell Biology at UT MD Anderson/UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

2 Comments

  1. Fond fellow PhD greetings from Munich! A quick note to say I too am staring down the face of a new life – never seems to be enough time or $$$… Still in the settling down phase, my classes start week after next. Interested to hear about your 0530 mornings. I hope the right social thing crosses your path 🙂 tschüss!

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    1. ramblingsofabiosciencesphdstudent October 7, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      My main class goes everyday from 8-30-11AM and I got tired of sitting in traffic. Waking up at 5:30 allows me beat traffic and I get some work done in the lab/office. I’m a morning person so it’s been working decently for me so far ☺️

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