Six months into a master’s degree. I am roughly 3/8ths of the way done. And I thought undergrad went by quickly. Life currently consists of writing papers about other peoples’ papers. And making arguments based on said papers in order to get approval for research of my own so that I can write a paper of my own so that future generations of grad students will (hopefully) cite my paper. This is the cycle of American academia.
Six months in, and I barely have time to notice that time is passing. And suddenly everything is due. And suddenly, we’re talking about comps and IRB approval. No wonder none of this has felt real–I haven’t actually noticed anything since August.
My social life is a shambles. I have no idea what year in school anyone is, or who’s graduating when. If you changed your major, I promise I never heard about it. I have no idea who is dating whom anymore, or who is getting married when. Last week was Bible Conference, so there were no classes, and in-between services and hours of work, I ran into people I had completely forgotten about. I am a terrible friend and an even worse acquaintance.
“You didn’t know so-and-so and what’s-their-name were a thing? Please, everyone saw that coming!”
No, I didn’t, because I’m at work, or in classes, or I have my nose stuck to my computer screen in order to read somebody’s dissertation. They’ll most likely be broken up by August anyway.
Or there’s this conversation:
“Hey, stranger, haven’t seen you in forever!”
“Oh hey, yeah, I know, I’m always at work or in class. How’s the engineering life?”
“Well, I changed my major to humanities…”
I’m beyond grateful for my classmates. These people who are in the same boat with me. Who joke about the same things. Who have to accomplish the same things in the same amount of time.
Yeah, we’re probably only hilarious to ourselves. That’s ok.
Grad life is better with these people around.
My thesis project committee chair has just been assigned. I found out in an email on Thursday.
I might have involuntarily emitted a high-pitched squeak of surprise and terror. I’M NOT READY!!!!!
In that moment, I realized–maybe for the first time–that I really am doing this thing. Time really is passing, stuff really is getting done, and I really am earning an M.A. Wow. Just how exactly did I get here?!
I have a research proposal ready to go. In the next week, it will be joined by an interview guide and consent form, then sent off to the IRB so that I can get approval to use my research from this semester’s project in my actual thesis. Oh, and if it goes through, my thesis research will already be halfway done before the end of this semester. Still not sure how I got here.
It’s actually happening. What began as a passing thought in sophomore Mikayla’s brain has become current Mikayla’s life. Time is passing, things are getting done, and I am 3/8ths of the way through.
It’s getting real, people.