I don’t know why I’ve been having such a hard time lately. School has been fine, but it feels like I can’t handle anything else I have to do. I did finally get my insurance card, which meant I could finally refill my antidepressant prescription. Probably my current depressive state is due to the weeks I spent without the pills while I was waiting for the card, and while I’ve now started taking them again, I know it’ll be a little while before the full effect kicks in.
Still, though, it seems like I can’t get any major things done. The latest crisis was precipitated by finding out that my driver’s license expired a couple days ago. This doesn’t have much direct effect on my life, since I don’t drive and I rarely get carded when I buy alcohol, but it was just a shock and a reminder that I’d been meaning to go to the DMV and get a NJ license for residency purposes for months now but never got around to it. So now I’m just going to go over there on Monday with as much paperwork as I can gather and hope they’ll accept an expired out-of-state license as a valid form of ID.
This isn’t a big deal, but it just highlights for me how little progress I’ve made on these life-outside-of-school things. Unlike in past school experiences, I have been able to develop a reasonable social life for myself, so that’s a plus, but otherwise I’m really struggling.
The main thing is that I really need to find a job. I have plenty of money to live on for now, but it definitely won’t last any longer than the end of this semester, and ideally I’d like to get some source of income set up before then.
It’s not that there’s any shortage of jobs, as far as I can tell. My school has all these research centers that hire graduate students, and I applied for a couple of positions that were advertised early in the semester and didn’t get them. Okay, fair enough. I think it’s particularly competitive to get these positions this year, since the bad economy has resulted in so many more people going to grad school. My cohort is the biggest anyone at the school can remember, apparently. Also because of the economy, a lot of these people have relevant undergraduate degrees and/or years of relevant experience, which makes them obviously better choices for these jobs than someone like me. I could definitely do the work for most of these positions, but there’s nothing in my resume that makes me look particularly qualified. So it’s not really surprising that I didn’t get any of the advertised positions.
There were only a few of them, though, and it seems like most people actually get these jobs by making connections with the professors who run the centers (or something). This puts me at a serious disadvantage, because while the professors teaching my classes seem pretty impressed with me, they also don’t seem to have the right connections to any of these centers to help me out with this. (I haven’t actually talked to any of them about this; it’s just the impression I get.)
Obviously the solution is to reach out to the professors who do run these centers, and I know that’s what I need to do. For whatever reason, though, I just can’t bring myself to do that. I’ve been having a really hard time feeling like I belong at the school. In class I’ve been able to adjust pretty well, but it took me weeks to be comfortable going to the student lounge or the computer lab. I feel like I’ve somehow lost all of my self-confidence, and my shyness and self-consciousness has taken over completely. I know I need to snap out of it, but I just can’t.
I guess I just didn’t realize how much I was going to have to advocate for myself here. I’m not generally happy to accept help or guidance, but I feel like I need some right now. I guess I was expecting the school to be offering me tons of guidance and that I would be resisting that, but instead the school isn’t pushing any help on me. I know I can get guidance on all of this if I seek it out, but that’s exactly what I feel totally incapable of doing right now.
I just wish someone would show some interest in me and, like, ask me how I’m doing or something. I feel like I don’t have anyone to talk to about any of this, which I guess is why I’m now pouring my heart out to the internet.
The thing is, though, that it’s clearly just my lack of initiative that’s standing in my way here. I guess (and I’m kind of working through this as I write, so it may not all make sense) I feel uncomfortable being a student again, not in that I don’t like going to class or doing homework, but in that I don’t like being in that sort of low-ranking position within the school after working in an atmosphere where I was treated as an equal by pretty much everyone. I’m really reluctant to overstep any hidden boundaries to what is considered appropriate behavior for students, but I don’t know what those boundaries are, so I just don’t do anything and avoid everyone.
The thing is, I know that if I could just put myself out there somehow, people would recognize that I do belong here and that I do have talents that are valued. The problem is that none of those talents can really come through without me really trying to sell myself, which is not something I’m comfortable doing. I don’t want to be a supplicant. I guess I sort of got used to people coming to me, and I’m having a hard time adjusting to a situation where I have to go to them.
Several times in recent social situations people have asked me questions about things that I happen to know a lot about, and when I answered they seemed really impressed with both my depth of knowledge and my ability to present it. I feel like those are the skills I have that I’ve really developed recently and that I have to offer. They’re not the only skills I have, but they’re the ones I have that are easiest to show. I don’t know how many of the possible jobs out there would really utilize these skills, but I’m sure there are some.
I feel like I’m surrounded by all these go-getters who are really ambitious and motivated. They have all this relevant background and experience and they’re here to save the world. Many of them, especially those from New Jersey, are also very loud and pushy in a way peculiar to a certain type of person from New Jersey. I can’t compete with that. I’m quiet and shy and skeptical about a lot of this “save the world” stuff. I’m sure I’ll be able to find my niche here at some point, but it’s turning out to be a lot harder than I was expecting.
I’m not really asking for advice here. This post is long and rambling, and I’ve mostly been writing it because I feel like I need to get some of this stuff out and this is the easiest place to do it. I do feel a little better after writing it, so there’s that.