Personal Priorities

By Megan Reilly
@mreilly90

As graduate students, we sometimes are almost too good at managing our priorities. We know how much reading we have for the next week and we know approximately when we will get that reading done (i.e. Sunday afternoon after the Redskins play the Texans). We know how often our non-grad student friends need to see us before those friendships start to get a little shaky (approximately 2-3 months in my experience). We even know exactly how many hours of sleep we need to be functional (at least seven). We know what times of year to take on additional responsibilities at our jobs/assistantships and when to ask our colleagues to not expect an email response within the usual 24 hour window (people in Greek life, that’s probably you right now).

But what about our personal priorities? What about the passions and opportunities not related to our in-progress careers? Just because there is something that is as all-consuming as grad school in your life, why are we so terrible at making time for the things that once made us who we are? I love to read but haven’t touched book 5 of the Game of Thrones (A Dance with Dragons) series since mid-summer. I love politics but haven’t got involved in a campaign this election year. I love yoga and hot bubble baths but can’t remember the last time I did either one.

I could be 100% speaking for myself and I recognize that some people are phenomenal at work-life balance. But for me, I think part of my high stress with work and school is due to me cutting back on the things I love, so this is something I am trying to be better about this year.

The thing I am missing most is my once-busy travel itinerary. During college, I did a summer study abroad program called Semester at Sea. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s basically a college campus on a cruise ship that sails to a different country every week and bases the curriculum around the region of the world/countries you will be visiting. If that doesn’t sound like it will get you a big bite from the travel bug, I don’t know what will. That being said, it’s been over a year since my passport has been stamped and I’m starting to get the itch again. I can feel my viewpoints becoming less global and more American-centric. I need to try some truly authentic foreign cuisine and I need to feel that amazingly liberating feeling of being the only person in the room who speaks English.

But international travel doesn’t pair well with graduate school. And my response to that? Oh well! I recently decided that missing class for a week and burning a couple of my precious annual leave days is completely worth the one thing that makes me feel more alive than anything else. So, I will be going to China for the first time in November! And the best part? I am SURE I can finish reading A Dance with Dragons on the 14 hour flight.


Follow me on Twitter at @MReilly90.

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