Key lessons from my first semester as a PhD student

The list could go on for miles (as can academics, sheesh), but because this was a final paper due on Thursday, I limited my insights to those listed below…Hope it helps anyone out there considering doing or in the process of a PhD.

I would say that the key lessons I learned from interacting with faculty and students during my first semester include the following:

  1. Being an academic is a joy as well as hard work, a labor of love in every sense. Loving what you do in academia is a driving force of inspiration that will get you through the times when your work seems pointless, when no one seems to understand what you’re talking about, and when you’re not even sure what you’re talking about.
  2. Your colleagues can be just as inspiring and instructive as the most prestigious speaker or the most seasoned professor.
  3. There are all different ways to define the PhD process, and it is different for everyone. Trying to adhere to an external standard does a disservice to your growth as an individual and an intellectual; while we all must push ourselves at times, the priority must be also be on rigorous self-care, self-awareness, and self-love in such a transformative process.
  4. The more human we are, the more connected we can be to those around us. And the more laughter we have, the more we can bring it out in others! We can be Serious and Intellectual and Important but at the end of the day, we all live in the same achy, weird existence that is Humanity. Our colleagues around us share, consciously or not, their humanity with us, and I take this as advice which is paramount in becoming an academic: BE HUMAN, AND IN DOING SO, LOVE THE HUMANS AROUND YOU!!!
"School for the Gifted" by Gary Larson

“School for the Gifted”
by Gary Larson


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