We've all had them...one of those weeks. My week started up with a game of catch-up. I volunteered to be the first person to present a project for a particular class this Monday. This involved a weekend full of project-related reading and work. However, I finished it.
Unfortunately, finishing the project involved having to push back all of my other homework. I had two assignments for one class (signed up for the class one week late and had to then do first and second week assignments). I finished these two last night. They were due today. Call me an overachiever, but I had planned to finish them this weekend. Then I had to do two readings for this class as well (more scientific papers!), which I managed to finish this afternoon (research-related number crunching this morning led to my finishing the readings during the beginning of class). I hate doing homework during class...but at least I finished it.
I somehow managed to finish the data presentation for my laboratory meeting today. It wasn't perfect, but I managed to finish it. I just finished up my Neurobiology reading and quiz (two of these babies per week)...and will get to the rest of the neuro homework after this post....
I guess you can say that the better part of my week was spent playing catch-up. Catch-up is okay when you are out sick from school at age 10...and can do homework in between 8 hours of sleep and home cooked meals. It is okay when you are and undergraduate taking a semester-worth of fluff courses that make up your general education requirements. Catch-up, however, is incredibly stressful when you are a PhD student trying to get a bunch of research done by a certain date, submit an abstract by a certain date, complete homework by a certain date, and understand all that you've learned about neuro by a certain date (test day is in less than 2 weeks....EEEK!!!). Needless to say, it's been one of those weeks. One of those seemingly hopeless Saint Jude weeks.
What did I do?
1. I prayed and asked God to help me. There is nothing like leaving it all to God to get me out of a sticky situation. Trusting in Him is hard to start doing...but once you trust Him, things tend to fall into place. The key here is patience.
2. I rallied the troops. I not only asked some good guys for their intercession....I brought a few to the lab with me. Therefore, if you ever visit my lab, you will see prayer cards for St. Raphael (who is always more than willing to watch over you and guide you), St. George (nothing says defeat your literal or figurative demons like a badass soldier of God slaying a dragon), and St. Jude (having the patron saint of lost causes by your side is never a bad thing). I also threw in a Papa Bene card, a miniature rosary with St. Anthony on it (to help me find my sanity when I lose it, the Cross of St. Benedict (I owe this guy a Columbia sweater if I ever make it out of here alive with a PhD), and a crucifix (a great reminder of what it truly means to suffer). I even brought in my mini saints book....just in case I need some extra help and inspiration.
3. I overcame my pride and asked for help. Pride is a very dangerous thing and sometimes it is the only thing standing in between me and true happiness. I am sure that many people could say the same. Instead of emailing my master's thesis mentor about how everything is going great...I told her the truth. I told her I was stressed. I told her what was going on and the things I was worried about. Her reply was immediate and just what I needed to hear. I have since thumb-tacked her email to my desk as well. She asked me to call her and I did. I was on the phone with her for quite some time....and I needed it. It was great talking with her and she gave me so many great pointers (she did, after all, make it through the realms of PhD land alive and reasonably unscathed). This woman is a remarkable human being with such a caring and hilarious soul. In short, she is a saint. If I could start a campaign to get her canonized right now, I probably would.
4. I took a day off from the lab tomorrow to catch up on my neuro. Let's face it, I need the extra time and as much as I want to soldier on through the research-related number crunching, I need to focus on neuro before I really get left behind. This too was an issue of pride and doubt...this idea that I could not take a day off because I had no time or because I did not want to show weakness. It's not weakness. It's common sense...and yes, I do have the time.
Most importantly, however, I got plenty of support to get me through my tougher times. We all have support, if we are willing enough to reach out for it sometimes.