It’s Saturday, which means I’m back at the Music Ed. Annex. Of course I should be working on chapter two of my dissertation, but after getting back from a walk around the Spurlock Museum and Alice Campbell Alumni Center, I figured I would put it off for a few more minutes and write a blog post. Hold on though, this is a turn from the fun posts and more about the necessity for self-care while working towards a PhD in Music Education.
Parenting, partnering, studenting - these are all hard things independently, but when they are all happening simultaneously, mental health can seem like a neglected priority, and things that are minor, seem big and the big things don’t seem to matter. See? I told you it wasn’t going to be a fun post. Sometimes it can be hard to pull myself out of the bed that I tossed and turned in all night, wondering if I was a bad mom. Wondering if I was failing my kiddo while trying to balance his school stuff with mine. Wondering if I was failing my wife because I was always stressed about the next set of deadlines that I had to meet. Wondering if I was letting my professors down because my work seemed to be subpar (although they would never say that, I’m just hyper-critical). Wondering if I was letting myself down.
The short answer to all of these questions is, of course, no - but it’s hard to see that when you’re always sitting behind a computer screen, trying to do it all. I hope none of this scared you away, but it’s real life.
Things are hard. Real life is hard. Mom life is hard. PhD life is hard. I keep hearing though that it is all worth it. That every little challenge along the way is there to remind you that if you aren’t higher on your priority list, all of the relationships in your life will suffer.
It’s a hard concept, putting yourself first, but remember that you are the reason that your kid is here today, the reason that your wife smiled at you at the end of a long day, the reason transgender folks in music education are being brought to the forefront. . .YOU are worth it.
Now that this post turned into more of a therapeutic, self-confidence booster, I mostly want you to remember that YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Graduate school is a wonderful opportunity and has given me so much, but I need to remember that it doesn’t identify me. I am a person independent from that grad student and I need to give myself the chance to practice self-care by taking walk breaks and turning up some Bon Jovi and singing to my heart’s content. And now… I take a breath, text my wife that I love her, and tell her to hug the kid for me, and get back to work. We’re halfway there.