Grad School Sacrifices – Work/School/Life Balance

I’m writing this as I am waiting until it’s time to rinse out my hair dye. Going back to dark brown after 3 weeks as a redhead. Yup, only three. I cannot stand to see roots, and the red dye dyed my scalp pumpkin orange for 4 days last time. I can’t have a pumpkin orange scalp for 4 days every 3 weeks – even though it is fall, the season of pumpkin spice everything.  At least with dark brown, I can just touch up my roots every 6-8 weeks, depending on how much the grays are annoying me.  The red dye also kept running out of my hair for over a week and dying my sink and toilet with little orange-y droplets.


That was all to say that I’m a little strapped for time this weekend.  I sat down to do my Simulation homework, which involved building 3 models that simulate actual systems (i.e. patients arriving at a doctor’s office, registering, waiting for an exam room, waiting for a doctor, being examined and leaving).  I’ve followed along with the professor as she’s built the models, but she’s teaching by example and I like to learn from scratch.  Like, I want to know every module and function in the simulation software we’re using (Arena) so I know all of the possibilities before I start, but right now I only know the possibilities and set up of the specific problems she’s shown us.  I’m also taking the class online, so when the class is in the computer lab, I can’t follow along building a model because I’m using my computer to watch what the teacher is doing (the whole class is just audio recording of the live class, plus video of whatever is on the professor’s computer).  Needless to say, I’ve had a rewatch a few classes to build the homework models and I’ve spent ~12 hours on this homework.  AND none of my models work 100% correctly.

That’s just one class.  My other class has a take home exam due on Friday.  Since I work full time, my goal was to finish that this weekend, and the simulation homework, and start research for a 12 page paper that’s due November 14th.  When I see that due date, I don’t think, oh about a month from now.  I think that’s about 8 days from now, because those are the weekends I have to do it.  Just writing this out is setting my whole nervous system into panic mode.  Where your muscles are tense, your throat hurts, and you’re on the verge of tears.  Sorry this is turning into a pity party.

I did go out on Friday night, so I was determined to stay in on Saturday night.  Of course, all my friends started day drinking and by 8pm I receiving requests to join them.  By that point, I was exhausted and mostly done for the night on homework, but knew that if I went out and “caught up” with everyone, I’d be down for the count on Sunday.  So, I declined.

I caught some flak for it.  All with good intentions, but I was still feeling frustrated that I had to explain myself.  It so happened that my other friends who are also in school were out and I don’t know why I need more time than they do, I just do.  Whether I need the time or not, if I don’t spend the time then I won’t be trying my hardest, and that’s not something I can live with.  It is a sacrifice and it sucks.  All I wanted to do last night was drink my face off.  Instead, I had some tea, watched Parenthood, and went to bed.  But, I have to try my hardest and I have to make the sacrifice.  Otherwise, why the hell am I spending $40K on this degree?  (That’s a good question, anyway, but I’m already overwhelmed.  No need to add insult to injury.)