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The (unanticipated) Let Down

hi all – Meredith here.

Happy Monday to you all. Things are grey and blustery here today. The wind has been whipping things around like crazy. I’ve spent a good portion of the day inside, hunkering down with a novel (I woke up with some stomach upset which I am still feeling the effects of).

And it’s not because I spent the weekend partying it up in post-degree splendour. On the contrary: it was a pretty quiet weekend. I did a lot of reading, email-writing and general life-catch-up.

Actually, if I’m honest, I have to admit that the feeling I’ve been contending with all weekend has been melancholy, more than glee. It’s what they don’t tell you about when you’re in the middle of a big project: finishing can be anticlimactic. In fact, poking around the internet in preparation to write this, I actually found some good articles drawing a well-documented connection between finishing a degree and the onset of depression.

And in many ways, it makes perfect sense: even as unstructured as a graduate degree is, working on it gives purpose and meaning for a designated period of time. Even if you sometimes feel like you’re floundering while you’re in the middle of it, the very fact that you’re working on a degree gives you something to say when people ask “what do you do?” When you’ve finished, it’s like losing your grip on the divining rod that has pointed you in the right direction for the last couple of years.

This article, published a decade ago in the Guardian, sums it up well. Though it’s specifically about the experience of finishing up an undergraduate degree, I think there are many parallels to the grad school experience:


Of course, transition periods are tough for the best of us — and when you’ve just finished a degree, that’s exactly where you find yourself: just finishing up one thing, uncertain about where you’re going next.

In my case, I have a vague sense (I’m moving to Ottawa where I will be returning to work in the media), but nothing is firmly nailed down yet. I don’t know exactly when I’ll be moving, or where exactly I’ll be living when I get there.

So I’ve been trying to treat myself gently these last few days. I have a few things I need to do, but I haven’t quite found the will to get started on any of them. I was all set to get some kind of routine going this morning, but then I found myself feeling decidedly unwell and let myself slack off instead.

So it goes.

I’m sure in time the next path will reveal itself — for now I’m just trying to take time to enjoy the novels and movies I’ve put on the back burner in the last little while. Sooner or later I will be busy again and I’ll be relishing this time.

Posted in SGS Blog 2010-2011, Student Perspective

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