Well my name isn’t Homer, but I just got back into town from spending the weekend with friends and my family at a lake house. As graduate students, we can get a little wrapped up in FINISHING (I can’t imagine) and forget to enjoy the process. I’m guilty, for sure, especially since my partner is also in graduate school — a paycheck would be really nice at some point. However, as we set out on this really long journey (his grad work will take 8 years), we made a conscious decision to try really hard to enjoy the ride. How can we keep our heads down and save all our fun for almost a decade? Regardless of the length of your program, forgetting to enjoy life while you’re researching, teaching, or writing is no way to live.
Having fun is more than “doing something for yourself everyday” (though that is important). It’s making an effort to try something new, to meet new people, and maybe learn something new about yourself. You never know when you’ll make a good friend, do some great networking, or even have a chance to forget about school and work for awhile.
Of course, what you decide to do will depend on who you are — however, try not to just write something off without trying it at least once. I highly recommend looking at your city parks and rec department class offerings. The classes are cheap, diverse, and low commitment — they may even offer a punch card. Our city offers belly dancing, computer classes, bird watching, and everything in-between. It’s worth taking the time and the $35 to break up your routine and learn a new skill.
Try looking in your public library. NOT the university library, the PUBLIC library. Grab a book that looks interesting, check out a cookbook, find their program schedule. Many libraries offer workshops on resumes, networking, and job searches. They also often have many different book groups that meet monthly. And trust me, the crowd at the public library is probably very different from your usual crowd.
Another (cheap) way to learn something new is to trade with a friend. Find someone who knows how to do something you want to learn how to do and ask them to give you a few lessons or pointers. This can be BONUS fun because you’re doing something new and socializing at the same time. And, you can always add a bottle of wine. (Well, not always. Be safe.)
To make this work, it’s really important to schedule these things into your life. You can’t expect to just do them in your “free time”. Put them on your calendar and get out there — you have nothing to lose but opportunities.
*See this clip for the quote reference.
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