Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So Freakin’ Done with Grad School

For those of you who aren’t keeping up with my blog or haven’t had the chance to read some of my most recent posts, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my grad program over the last year. After this summer, I was ready to drop out, but decided I just needed to finish. However, here I am with three weeks left in the semester, and I still can’t help but to feel like I’m wasting my time.

 I’ve also been MIA on my blog for a few weeks, and I really get frustrated at myself for not keeping up with it because, honestly, it’s really the only thing I enjoy doing. BUT my other “responsibilities” keep getting in the way: I have to keep up with my school work, plan lessons for the classes I’m teaching, and grade grade grade all of the freakin’ time. And on top of all this, I’ve also been battling severe anxiety and depression.

Because of this, I sought out therapy to work through my mental health issues and to help myself find clarity about whether or not I should drop out. I’ve been dealing with this internal conflict all semester, and it hit me a few weeks ago that the program I’m in isn’t going to help me be the best version of myself, give me any skills that I’ll need to be successful in the career(s) I’m interested in pursuing, and just doesn’t seem to be fulfilling in any way. And coming to this realization seemed to be making my depression even worse.

I mentioned to my therapist last week that I feel like I’m wasting my time in this program, and that I should just drop out now (even though I only have two classes left…) to get on with starting my life / career. I told her I thought being in the program was making my depression even more difficult to cope with, and I didn’t think there was anything I could possibly get out of the program by finishing it. This is the advice she gave me:

  1. Thinking that your wasting your time is wasting your time.
  2. No matter where you’re at in life, always try to find some purpose in what you’re doing.
  3. If you’re not putting 110% into what you’re doing, you’re always going to feel like you aren’t getting anything out of it.
  4. If you feel like you are wasting your time, what can you do about the situation?

Hearing this, I was honestly floored. I sat in her office, contemplative about what was I doing to make the situation better for myself. I knew I was under contract to teach for another semester, had already taken out student loans, and didn’t want to regret any decision that I would make, but I also knew that I laid in bed most weekends throwing pity parties for myself because I hated that this is what my life had come to.

I quickly realized that I was half-assing all of my assignments, put minimal effort into planning my lessons for my students, skipped classes more than I had my entire life (and if you know me personally, you know this is a huge deal), and wasn’t giving 100% in my relationship with Josh. I was living every aspect of my life in mediocrity, and I needed to stop. But how?

It’s not as easy as it seems to stop thinking that you’re wasting time when you’re truly unhappy in a situation, but until you’re giving 110% effort to at least try to get something out of whatever you’re doing, that feeling won’t change. I don’t want to look back on my time in grad school five years from now and feel regret, but I also don’t want to feel bitterness if I continue the program and still feel unfulfilled.

As the semester comes to an end, I have a lot of reflecting to do. If I do continue, what can I do next semester that will ensure that I make the most out of my classes? But also, how will I be able to utilize a degree in English in a way that will help me reach my goals after graduation? I need to ask myself why did I even decide to get this degree?

I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the mindset that we’re wasting time when we’re at a place of uncertainty in our lives. However, it’s what we do about it—what actions we take and the positive mindset we create for ourselves—that is the only way to overcome this negative thought process. I truly believe that there is always a rhyme or reason behind where we’re at in our lives, and although it isn’t always clear, there is always something that we can learn from it. I’m still searching for that purpose, but I am trying to start giving 110% in all areas of my life (which means more blogging and doing more that makes me happy!!!) in attempt to find it.

What are some ways that you overcame feelings of uncertainty or feeling like you were wasting time? Let me know in the comments below!

Xo,

Ashlyn


*S/o to Blackbear ft. Gucci Mane’s “Do Re Mi” for the inspo for the blog title!! I’m obsessed lol.

Let’s Talk About Therapy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

 

Today is World Mental Health Day, so I want to get real with you.

A few days ago, I shared on my Instagram (@ashburgett) that this summer was really rough for me. I experienced one of the most traumatic life events that I wouldn’t wish on anyone (although I know it happens all the time), and I had trouble processing that experience. I was working 50-60 hour weeks while going through it too, so I never gave myself time to cope with the emotions I was dealing with. I put on a front like I always do when I go through something difficult, told myself to put my big girl panties on, and tried my best to suck it up and put a smile on my face every day.

This was so detrimental to my mental health.

Because I’ve always been commended on how “put together” I am, how ambitious I am, or how much I’ve achieved, I try my best not to be vulnerable around others and never really open up about what I’m going through. IMG_3168I’ve created a wall to block out emotions that are hard and unpleasant. I never want to deal with those feelings because I’m literally terrified of being “weak”.

I also shared on Instagram that rescuing Fitz, my adorable lab/retriever mix, has really allowed me to start healing. And it really has. He’s a total sweetheart, cuddles his mama all the time, gives me something to nurture, and showers me with the all affection that a girl could want (J does this too lol). However, what’s really started getting me over the hump of what’s easily the worst season of anxiety and depression I’ve ever gone through is seeking professional help.

I’ve always been apprehensive about seeking out a therapist/counselor/psychologist for my depression. I think this is mainly because I’ve always prided myself on being able to work through my problems myself or talking myself out of thinking that I’m really in that much pain, but I also think I’ve always been worried about the stigma associated with seeing a therapist. I don’t want people to see me as weak or think that I’m “crazy” or “psychotic”. I want so badly to be that strong, ambitious, put-together girl that I’ve always been told I am.

But the truth is, I’m pretty fucked up. I have a lot of problems: I’m insecure as hell, I always fall into seeing things through “the glass is half empty” lens, and I genuinely feel like I’m always bitter about something. My life has never been sunshine and rainbows; it’s messy and uncertain. I’m constantly worried about money, but I still seem to spend so much on frivolous things. I care way too much about what others think about me, and I’m always thinking about the “what ifs”. I’ve created this wall that doesn’t allow me to be vulnerable with others, and makes me not give a shit about making new friendships. I’ve put myself on this downward, self-hating spiral that I can’t seem to get out of.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 12.39.09 PMAnd while recognizing all of this about myself hasn’t been the easiest, it’s forced me to really think about my life and how I need to make some changes. Recently, my therapist had me diagram my inner self. I split myself into the “good” and the “bad” and was able to identify which qualities affected the way I thought and acted. I can now go back to that diagram and check myself when I start feeling insecure or when I start feeling bitter and ask myself “Why do I care what people are thinking about me?” or “Focus on all the positive things that came from doing this or doing that”.

I want to implore you all to seek out a therapist/counselor/psychologist. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about going to therapy is that you have to “have problems” or be depressed to talk to a psychologist, but you don’t. Some sessions I just talk about what’s been going well in my life and that things are going smoothly. Other times I do have problems (whether they’re trivial matters or something more serious) that I need to work through. Either way, talking to a third-party about what’s going on in your life is so, so helpful (especially while you’re in college and have so much going on!!!).

I also want to note that most colleges and universities usually offer free clinical services. I grew up with either not-so-great health insurance or no health insurance at all, so I didn’t have the opportunity to meet with a counselor when I went through some of my “underlying issues” as my therapist would say. I also never took advantage of the counseling services my undergrad offered when I really should have, and it’s one of my biggest regrets. So, try it out! Make an appointment and just talk to someone. We’re all works-in-progress, and you’ll learn so much about yourself, trust me.

What are some of the experiences you’ve had with therapy? Let me know in the comments below or via email! I’d love to hear from all of you.

Xo,

Ashlyn


I want to thank my very best friends for being there for me through all of this chaos, and for pushing me to talk to a professional. I am truly so lucky to have such great people in my life.
To learn more about World Mental Health Day (October 10th), visit the World Health Organization website.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number is: 1-800-273-8255.