I wanna be Like Mike! Graduate School Freakout

Monday, August 24

Listening to "Homecoming," Kanye West ft. Chris Martin.

Hi blog.

You're a little behind on my life.

See... last week I had orientation, and then the first day of class, and now I'm reading a million pages of required readings... throw work into the mix, and you'll see why didn't update you at all!

I'm so sorry. Last week feels like a million years ago and 2 seconds ago all at the same time.

But, ladies and gentlemen, I have a small, semi-interesting post prepared if you have time :)

So last Tuesday was the big New Graduate Student Orientation at NC State...

...I walked in to the conference-style McKimmon Center, tightly balling my fists with excitement. The overwhelming number of people and insane amount of air conditioning hit me at the same time, so I took a deep breath as I searched for a seat. I had barely chosen a pen from my new pencil pouch before someone got up to speak. Projector screens lowered, and over 1,000 graduate students looked to the same podium...

The speakers were nice, quasi-inspiring and, at some points, speaking precautions. Manage your time. Don't take on too much. Establish a good relationship with your Advisor. Manage your time. Manage your time...

At lunch I found a couple friendly girls in the excessively long bathroom line. We swapped stories about our soon-to-be graduate programs, our undergraduate experiences, our boyfriends... it was nice to meet new people. Most of the girls impressed me with what they'd been doing over the summer, from internships to taking classes... What had I done over the summer?

After lunch we split into groups. The graduate students with TA positions were herded into one room. We had a great speaker who regaled us with tales of his teaching experiences. He was fun, energetic, and you could tell he gave everything he had to his teaching profession. He was my hero, the best of the best... to me his name was Mike--- I really wanna be like Mike.

After he spoke we had a young woman who had just finished her Teaching Assistantship last May. She was really great as well. She opened up the floor for questions, allowing us all to reveal some of our fears.

How do I get the students to take me seriously-- I'm barely a year older than they are!

Do they call me by my last name or by my first?

Should I allow them to add me as a friend on Facebook?

After some of the questions were out of the way, she told us about her experiences. How she managed it all, some of her tough situations, advice... it was great and I was taking notes. I was so impressed.

After it was all over, I left the murderously cold air conditioning, took my new knowledge and new notes, and drove home. But something happened on the way.

I freaked out.

Seriously, I freaked.

I started thinking about my laundry list life. All the things I have going on. I thought about school, the classes, the readings and the papers, the teaching assistantship, work, the new marketing program, tutoring... it all hit me at once. When will I sleep? When will I cook? I just finally met all these nice people... will I have time to have a life???

Sometimes, all a freakout needs is a little organization. A little de-cluttering. It's worked for me before. I got home and straightened up the apartment, putting schoolbooks here, new notebooks there. It didn't help.

I sat down at the kitchen table, armed with my planner, and tried to plan out my semester. It didn't help.

I talked to my Mom and Tom a little, who both called to see how my big day had went. I let them know a little about how I was feeling. They both said similarly wonderful things, about how I had managed in undergraduate and how I would again, and both times I really did start to feel better. But then I would look at my planner... and those time constraints were still staring me in the face. Only 24 hours in a day, only 7 days in a week.

Matt got home, and we talked about everything in a roundabout way... eventually he just sat down with me and my planner and asked me to try and tell him how I felt. And like a total baby, I tried to say it but cried instead.

Big 'ol crocodile tears.

I tried to explain through my blubbering... I was scared. I had signed up for too much! Everyone thinks I can handle this and I can't. It's too much. I'm not as smart as everyone thinks I am. There's no way.

NO way.

He calmed me down, and very pragmatically went through my schedule and the next two years. It was nice.

If you have to, you'll quit your job, he says. We'll make this work.

I start to feel better. When I comment on my immature tears, sheepishly wiping my face with a kleenex, he smiles.

That's why this is going to work, he says. You care so much, that you're crying on your planner. You're going to make this work.

I felt better immediately, and got my excitement back as the night went on. And then I thought of my inspirations.

Sure, I wanna be like Mike. He was amazing, captivating, inspiring... but is he really my idol? I want to be a great teacher, but I'm going to be my own great teacher. I thought of my real inspirations, and came up with a pretty good one.

My friend Connie.
Actually, she's my best friend's Mom. She just went back to school this past year. She also has a son in high school and a brand new granddaughter (Abby!!). She's still working full time, but has received ALL A's in her classes so far. She's on track to complete her graduate degree by this April, because she's refused to take any time off school since the day she started.

I think it's great to have heroes in your profession, people to look up to, characteristics that you may strive to embody. But in the end, it's your real heroes, your family and friends, who help remind you that you can achieve. That an everyday goal can be accomplished with everyday courage and everyday fortitude. That you don't have to be a superhero to do it all-- you just have to care. To really want it. And I do.


Now, this wouldn't be a Class and Coffee post if I didn't say something about knitting or cooking. And I haven't touched my knitting needles all week! But, I can share something about cooking:

The Sunday Sandwich Maker!

When I was babysitting on Sunday night (yesterday!), Matt made all our sandwiches for the week. They're here wrapped up and just waiting to be grabbed so that we'd save time. He made mine with American cheese, my favorite :)

Life is good.

Next post: My first day of school!


Your no-longer-freaking,
New Girl Blogger


Sarah on August 24, 2009 at 11:32 AM said...

I love that you're so passionate and dedicated to what you're doing that you cried over your planner! And your Matt is such a sweetie, and he's right! You'll definitely make it work, because you care. :)

Tamela on August 24, 2009 at 11:41 AM said...

I have faith in you. Sometimes we all get that overwhelming feeling, but remeber to take it one day at a time and everything just seems to fall into place. I always make sure in additon to my planner I make a to-do-list with the most important things at the top of the list so I can feel better about crossing them off when I accomplish them. You will do great, sounds like you have an awesome support system who believes in you so much.

Peggy on August 24, 2009 at 11:57 AM said...

Three classes is a lot different than two, isn't it?

I've had the same first few days as you: Trying to organize to get a handle on it all AND actually do the reading to not instantly fall behind. I now have two calendars, two to-do lists, a pile on my desk (ok, those are bills that need to be paid but it still counts), and various notes around the house reminding me of other things I need to do.

We'll survive the semester somehow -- together!

(P.S. None of your posts are what I would call "small." ;-) )

Sarah, The New Girl on August 24, 2009 at 12:13 PM said...

----- ----- -----
Thanks Sarah!! :)

And Tamela, that was really sweet. To-do lists have definitely, definitely helped, even in this first week! I hadn't thought of putting the important things at the top; that's a great idea!

Peggy- haha you're right; brevity has never been my strong suit. Piles are definitely good as well :) Hopefully I can handle this three class thing... I really do feel better now, but I guess we'll see!!! :) I'm glad you're in the program too!!
----- ----- -----

Valerie on August 24, 2009 at 1:06 PM said...

Sounds like you have a great BF to straighten you out when it seems it is the end!!

I know you'll do great!

laurenfromtexas on August 24, 2009 at 1:08 PM said...

you are my hero!!!! seriously. hang in there, girl.


jeremyandgirls on August 24, 2009 at 2:04 PM said...

Wow. You actually started freaking me out for a minute. Yikes! : ) But - I have complete faith in you! You can totally do this! It's only scary because it's the beginning and it's new. You'll be great! And - when my girls are old enough (scary!) to go off to college I can only pray that they get a teacher who cares as much about what they do as you do! It's so insightful to read your blog and see how much blood,sweat, and tears are going into making your dream (ie: your plan) come true. You - will - be - GREAT!

stephchows on August 24, 2009 at 2:18 PM said...

school started already?? man! But it's still august!! No worries girl you have it all under control and you are going to do great!!!

Kim on August 24, 2009 at 2:26 PM said...

15 months from now when I pop back up in your life, you'll have all of that grad school jazz down to a t and this will be a mere memory of change and fear. We all have them! I remember with PC, I didn't FEEL it until I was sitting in my first host family room alone with the door closed unable to understand ANYTHING that was being said to me right after the bus dropped me off with my 3 bags of life. I sat there on the bed, freaked out, started crying and asked myself what the hell I was doing, and then my fellow PC neighbor came knocking on my door with her host family asking if I wanted to take a walk on the Caspian. Snapped out of it! :)

You are awesome. No matter how many crocodile tears you might or might not shed! :D

The Duo Dishes on August 24, 2009 at 4:10 PM said...

You're going to do a bang up job. Don't stress this soon! :) Much success of course. If you see Mike anytime soon, tell him we say hi!

Samantha on August 24, 2009 at 5:31 PM said...

You found yourself a good man, Sarah! It always helps to have someone by your side to support you, and Matt is certainly that someone. Everything seems overwhelming at first, but once you get situated with your schedule, you may find it to be manageable. And if you decide it's not, like Matt said, you can make adjustments with your job and such. You ARE a smart girl, so I know you will do just fine! Hang in there, and remember, you can always vent to your blog! We're all here to give you a little *hug* when you need it!

Oh, and I completely agree with you on all you said about your friend Connie. My mom is that person for me. She was working full-time at an elementary school while going to school for her Master's degree - it was a lot on her plate, but she had her sights set on what she wanted and achieved it! People like that are my inspiration. :)

Ace on August 24, 2009 at 9:47 PM said...

You can do it! Even we (lowly blog stalkers that will never meet you IRL) believe in you!

Karine on August 24, 2009 at 10:07 PM said...

Don't stress too soon about Grad School! Right now, it is the best time to enjoy it...

I also was a teaching assistant in grand school... and indeed I had people older than I am! Kind of weird, but you get used to it soon :)

chadski on August 25, 2009 at 9:48 AM said...

It's grad school, we all stress about it. Hell, my program won't start for another month and I'm already freaking out about it and I'm usually quite unshakable. At least it means you're taking it seriously, I think I'd be more worried if you didn't have a minor freak out.

Anonymous said...

Sarah...I love you! Now I'm the one crying big ole crocodile tears! I know you can do it all Sarah!--Connie

Devin on August 28, 2009 at 12:27 PM said...

That is really a great blog about your grad school experience thus far. If you want to share your experiences with other grad school students participating in teacher assistanships you should visit GradShare. Here is an example: http://www.gradshare.com/question.html?id=69

Sebastian on August 29, 2009 at 9:55 PM said...

Oh my, you think you're behind, I guess that makes me even further behind...! But I'm finally here, a week late, and after you've already had your breakdown... and got it all back together again.

I am eternally grateful that I've never been in a situation where I've had TOO much to do. But you seem to perhaps thrive in such a situation? Or you would hate the opposite, where you have not enough to do?

I remember the end of university, it was fairly hectic... but nothing major. But the idea of an always-moving-never-quite-up-to-date life does not appeal to me in the slightest, so I try to make sure things don't get that bad :)

Good luck with the mentoring!

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