Confessions of a (chronic pain) graduate student

I’ve, well, lied to my students about how my summer / school year is going, because somehow it’s become ingrained that we (as grad students or professors or just human beings) have to be invincible. And because letting someone know how many surgeries you’ve had in the last year, or doctor’s appointments in the last month, or rounds of therapy in the last week is intensely personal and part of the “no-go” code of student/GA/TA/professor/professional relationships, by and large.

Yet by not acknowledging my struggles, not only do I do myself a bit of a disservice, but I perpetuate that myth of the eager young beaver graduate student, which I fear I may inflict pain of an entirely different sort of my students who may be silently fighting too. I try to find balance between being honest and being professional, but more often than not, I think I err on the side of self-protection, paste on that bright smile that is drilled into all performing arts students from the age of 4, and say “it’s going wonderfully, how about yours?”


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