What Grad School Taught Me: The Masters Grad Edition.

Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!

A year ago, I published a quite negative post regarding how the first year of my grad studies treated me. You can read that here if you’d like.

This time around, I am a recent Master’s Graduate and my perspective on it has changed for the better.

Liz, “Master in English”.

Yesterday, I attended my departmental ceremony and officially graduated grad school. 130 undergrads graduated with their Bachelors in English, and 7 grads graduated with their Masters in English. Within the ceremony, our MA Director did something that was quite touching; she acknowledged all 7 of its graduates and shared to the English Class of 2018 all of our MA Theses titles to acknowledge our hard work during our journey in grad school. For my moment, I felt like my hard work paid off, and it felt great to just have the title of my thesis read because it’s such a body of work I am immensely proud of. I honestly wouldn’t have had the passion and drive for it if it wasn’t for my thesis advisor, Professor Carlo.

Professor Carlo & I.

Professor Carlo’s class was one of two courses I took during my first semester as a grad student. I was 22, I was naïve, and I was extremely timid and shy to even speak in class. In the duration of her course, I began to see writing in such a different perspective, and I began to express myself in a classroom in a way I haven’t been able to do so since the acting courses I took during undergrad. I felt a sense of freedom and began to get a sense of what my voice was, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t have known this without Professor Carlo’s class. I knew since the moment she said “if you’d like have your final paper become a thesis”, I instantly knew she was the professor I wanted to guide me to the end. And she did, and as a thank you for her dedication, time (and ears whenever I rambled on and on in our meetings), I gave her a bouquet of flowers. I cried giving them to her, she cried as I cried. And that’s the thing: the last time I truly cried at a graduation was in middle school, a time where I was at the happiest in my life and that I knew I was truly going to miss being there with my friends. I cried at my Masters’ Graduation because I was sad it was over and that the journey that I once felt was going to last a lifetime, was now over.

Grad school taught me more than how to research and analyze text on a scholarly level. It taught me the lessons in life I was too afraid to learn on my own.

Bachelors in English.

Prior to grad school, I graduated college not really knowing what the real world was like, and I wasn’t ready to face it because let’s be honest, I didn’t have a hard time completing my bachelor’s degree. At first, I accepted CSI’s “fast-track” into the Master’s program because I felt like I wasn’t done. I felt like I wasn’t done learning, growing, and getting degrees in all honesty. My aunt is the only other person in the family with a Masters Degree, and it was about time that a millennial in the family got one as well. But to be even more honest with myself, I started the program because I was scared of not having a plan, and going to grad school felt like the security blanket that I thought was going to protect me a bit as I got my own shit together.

In a sense, it worsened me.

With every journey comes with some hardships and particularly, grad school gave me a lot of them. I lost most of my friends (old and newish), I lost a lot of my social abilities which created this comfortable bubble of just me writing and getting work done, and it became a reason why I am now seeking out therapy.

It’s how I found out I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

But even with all of this, I’ve learned how to look at it through a positive lens. For instance, I would’ve never gone to seek therapy in the past because I never allowed myself to believe that I was sad/unhappy enough to the point where I needed outside help. Grad school, without a doubt, made me more responsible and more willing to manage things, and with that came this ability to become self-aware of my behavior, actions, and my fears. It made me see myself in a way that made me feel very exposed, and I didn’t have any help trying to get “comfortable” again.

Grad school taught me how to be self-aware of myself & how to acknowledge even the most uncomfortable things in my life. Whether it was me having to wait near the bridge for my bus at 10:30 at night, or writing two 12-page papers in 3 weeks, I was very uncomfortable during my journey. Half of those things caused my anxiety to worsen; half of those things taught me how to cope and make this a temporary “new norm”. There was no compromise in the middle; it was either go for it or let it get you. And I think that’s something so important to know when dealing with an anxiety disorder and/or dealing with life in general.

The future for me is unplanned, and I am learning to be okay with that for the time being. I made it this far, to see this day, to see yesterday, and I know I’ll make it see the future. Grad school taught me there’s no room to be afraid to do something; you’ll never truly know what could be in store if you don’t explore outside of your comfort zone.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable teaches you more about yourself than being comfortable.

Here’s to life as a Master in English.


Liz (:

Self-Appreciation Saturdays

Self-Appreciation Saturday. (2/18/17)

Relationships are tricky. They are either beautiful and romantic, or harsh and rough when you’re in them. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, we can all agree as soon as we started to notice the opposite sex and be attracted to them, our want or desire is to be in relationships. I mean, I had friends be in relationships just so they can be in a relationship… but that’s a different story.

Relationships is a form of commitment that take a lot of time and effort to keep healthy and stable from both parties involved. Because of that, people tend to not take care of themselves while putting their time and energy into another person.

Personally, I had to find a healthy balance between taking care of myself and being available for my partner. Being involved with someone means you’re putting in yourself, time, and dedication in someone else.

And let’s be honest, it could be draining for oneself.

Relationships deal with one of the strongest emotions we feel as people: love. If you’ve ever been in love before, you know how crazy it makes you feel, think, and behave. I guess this is where I talk about the different stages of thought in a relationship and all that and how to prevent the crazy that comes along with them.

The type of relationship you are in:

It’s 2017. Just how sexual orientation is more diverse (in a sense where you can identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer, asexual, etc.) Relationships are also being changed in terms of identification. There’s monogamous relationships, polygamous relationships, exclusive relationships, and open relationships labeled/unlabeled relationships, and probably even more than that. What all that matters is that you and your partner know what you guys are and compromise the type of relationship you want to identify with. Remember, many people aren’t receptive of the fact that relationships are beginning to be more flexible and solely seeing anything that’s not a monogamous relationship as “not a real relationship.” Tell them to go fuck themselves. Personally for me, I’ve dealt with people, especially people who didn’t know anything about the type of relationship I have with my partner, telling me that just because my relationship isn’t officially labeled, it wasn’t real.

But what defines a real relationship? Love and affection? Dates? Support? Mutual feelings? Consistent sex with just one person? Trust and Loyalty? What if me and my partner do all of the things above? Is it still not real because it’s not labeled? You and your partner should know where you two stand and respect each other’s wishes. Knowing what you guys are is essential; you’re not left in the dark thinking that you’re one thing but it’s really something else. Just talk to your partner. Ask them what’s the deal and talk to them. It’s the only thing that’s going to give you your answer.

Toxic Relationships vs. Healthy Relationships:

Love is definitely blind, whether they are healthy or toxic for you. You may not know the differences between the two once you’re head over heels for your partner, but your intuition always knows. If something in your relationship doesn’t feel right (maybe you can’t communicate to them without feeling guilt, or see them acting weird towards you without no explanation, or whatever the case may be), then something is not right. Healthy relationships don’t have the constant doubts and worries that toxic ones do, obviously. When healthy relationships do have concerns or doubts, they are communicated with each other to work things out. Healthy relationships allow you to still be yourself, while toxic ones make you feel like you’re restricted and robotic, only doing things to please your partner or make them happy instead of making yourself happy. If you’re able to distinguish what kind of relationship you are experiencing with your partner, then you can take the next step into either bettering your relationship, or bettering yourself. In my personal experience with a toxic-relationship-esque in my past, I know just how difficult it is to let your mind take the shots without your heart influencing any say of your decision. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if the person you’re involved with helping you become a better person, or preventing you from doing so?

Self-Care while in a Relationship:

Even if you are in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you stop taking care of yourself (and I don’t mean in a physical sense like weight or looks). Like I said previously, relationships are a commitment that involves you giving at least half of your time, love, and dedication to someone else, which can open up a lot of vulnerability. In other words, relationships can show you just how flawed you may be. I know that time and time again, I can see that the flaw of not being able to cook being immensely more important with the person I am with rather than it just being myself. By myself, I find that cooking for myself isn’t high on my list of things to do because I still live at home and eat whatever my mom decides to make. When I’m with my partner, I know that my lack of cooking skills makes me feel bad because he cooks for me, and I never could cook for him. It’ll change though. Someday. But some other people discover even bigger flaws in themselves; I know my baddest flaw I used to have was that I needed validation from my partner 24/7 or else I wouldn’t feel good about myself. Just because you are now in a relationship, doesn’t mean that other person completely owns you now. You still have to take care of yourself and keep your mind healthy in order to help keep your relationship healthy. If you’re not able to think for yourself or feel appreciated without your partner telling you so, then you have to think about if you’re ready to be in a relationship. Your partner isn’t going to want someone who can’t think for themselves or constantly needs them to baby them. You are a grown ass adult who should be thinking for your grown ass self! That babying thing was so high-school.

Consistency in a Relationship:

One thing that I learned with my partner is that consistency is key. If your partner is consistently holding you down, consistently making time to see you in person, consistently tells you what’s going on in their life, then your partner is going to put their trust in you. A partner who randomly pops in and out of your life isn’t consistent, and that’s when you start thinking about all the possibilities of why they are moving the way they are moving (especially us women). Consistency also eases your mind; instead of questioning is every Snapchat post and where they’re going and what they’re doing, you’re putting trust in your partner because their actions add up. If you have a partner who tells you they love you to the moon and back, but their actions lack of it, then something is not clicking and you will begin to question every little thing. If your partner says what they mean and mean what they say, then you don’t have to always keep tabs on them, and you can live on with your day. Putting your absolute trust in someone else is extremely risky, but you have to know the person you are dealing with and the things that they do. I know for a fact that my partner was once a party-goer. He went to every party he was invited to and stayed out for the entire night. Now that he’s older, he’s more of a home-body that stays in his room and invites a couple of his closest guy friends over to smoke and hangout and be dudes. If he does go out, he goes to the bar with the same group of friends and goes straight home when he is ready. I never have to worry about him trying to pick up other girls or hooking up with them, because his words match his actions and vice versa. Being consistent is just as important as honesty, trust, and loyalty; in a way I feel like all those things come when you and your partner are being consistent. Being consistent allows you to still be yourself and maintain a relationship, because you’re being honest with yourself and your partner, doing the normal things you usually do.

Some people are luckier than others when maintaining themselves and being themselves in relationships. Relationships are never black and white and they differ for everyone, but what’s universal is the fact that it is important to take care of yourself just as much as the person you are involved with. Relationships are just an extension of you; they don’t define who you are as a person and what your interests or hobbies are. You’re still your own person, so make sure to take care of it not just for your partner, but for you absolutely first.

-Liz (:

Self-Appreciation Saturdays

Self-Appreciation Saturday. (2/11/17)

It’s been “cuffing season” all winter long, but February is takes it to a whole new level. With Valentine’s Day in a couple of days, it could be hard to get away from any reminders that you are single this Valentine’s Day season. 

Instead of flipping the bird at every Valentine’s Day themed aisle at a store, take a different approach on Valentine’s Day. Who needs those fake tasting overpriced chocolates and flowers that are just going to die the day after? Before you get consumed on how artificial Valentine’s Day can be and try finding a “last-minute bae” for the day, consider these little tips and thoughts about how you can feel good about living the single life.

  • Being single means you don’t have to spend money! Listen, I’m a cheapskate; I really don’t like spending the little money I have on things that aren’t thoughtful or useful. If you’re like me, being single will feel great around this time of month. You don’t have to worry to go last-minute shopping or do last-minute planning for something that is pricey and most likely generic.
  • Who says Valentine’s Day is meant to be spent with a boyfriend/girlfriend? Instead of feeling bad that you don’t have a “bae” to spend your Valentine’s Day with, spend it with your other single friends! Some place in your city there should be a bar or club open specifically meant for all the single ladies. If you’re not the type who likes to go out, staying home and spending time with your friends is just as much as a date night than one with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Make it a Friend Valentine’s Day!
  • Being single means you only have to worry about yourself. When you get into a relationship, not only do you have to take your feelings into consideration, you have to take the other person’s as well. Relationships are all about compromising and finding a middle ground on things (which will be next week’s SAS post). When you’re single, your energy and focus are all on yourself. Being single, in my opinion, gives you the time need to work on yourself and to love yourself before you let someone else in your life on that level.
  • You don’t have to take another person’s preferences or schedule for consideration. I find myself having to work around my partner’s schedule because, let’s face it, we both want to see each other but we are also adults who have business to take care of. With my grad school classes and his teaching job, we only get to see each other once or twice a week, and for me, those two days have to be previously planned out and all about him. When you’re single, you get to spontaneously go out and follow your own schedule. I’m not saying all relationships suck the fun out of your personal life, what I’m saying is that a part of your personal life becomes your partner’s as well, and when you’re single, you don’t need to worry about sharing your life with anyone else.
  • Being single doesn’t mean that nobody wants to be with you. Secret confession: I’ve been single for most of my life, and I always thought it was because nobody wanted to be with me. It made me insecure, seeing all these boys going out with these girls and every person that I had a crush on didn’t feel the same way. Being single just means you haven’t found the one yet, and that’s fine. You shouldn’t validate your self-worth by seeking someone to like you. It may seem like the greatest thing to do is be in a relationship, but girl, live your life.
  • Lastly, don’t be bitter about being single and just enjoy life! Embrace some time by yourself before you find the love of your life. Have fun and be wild, spontaneous, and adventurous! You have your whole life ahead of you to settle down and be with someone you love. If you’re in your 20’s like I am, don’t try to grow up too fast and find someone to marry and have kids with. You have your later years to do that! Enjoy the time you have as being a young adult, because you honestly aren’t going to ever get them back.

Now excuse me while I go listen to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Single”.

-Liz (: