When I see pictures like that, I am reminded of the main song from The Wiz “Ease on down, Ease on down the road…don’t you carry nothing that may be a load, just ease on down ease on down the road!” (I want you to imagine me holding that last note all the way out!)
Anyway, I reminded of these things because this is a perfect analogy for what is like to be a graduate student having to determine what and who—mainly who—you have to leave behind on this upcoming climb.
I know that you are probably reading this and wondering why you may have to leave some people behind when you go to graduate school. But the truth is that you can’t ascend to your fullest potential (and heights) with a lot of things weighing you down, and unfortunately that includes people.
I think this was one of the hardest realizations that I had to come to in my graduate school career. The realization that some people are heavy loads and they cannot be carried and they must be left behind.
Graduate school is not for the weak at heart. There will be times that you will be faced with situations that will make you want to quit. That will make you want to not only quit, but burn all of your books in the process. And in those moments, you must be surrounded by people who will support you through that process properly. Honestly, there is no rule book on how to be a friend to someone in graduate school; however, when you get there you will know the kind of friend that you need.
The hardest part about figuring out the type of friend you need is realizing that not everyone you thought was your friend is that person. And unfortunately, they may not even understand how to be the friend you need in that season. But I am writing this piece so you know not to feel guilty.
I know that that is also easier said than done, but take it from someone who has had to drop some people off along the way: it gets easier as time goes on. And to be quite honest, you will be so busy trying to master graduate school that you will not even have time to think about it.
So how do you evaluate who needs to go and who can stay? Well one thing someone once told me was that you must determine why that person is in your life? Is it because you have known them forever and you feel some sense of loyalty and duty? Or is that person actually pouring into your life as much as you are pouring in theirs?
Do not get me wrong, these types of questions are hard to ask yourself; however, they are necessary for your own personal growth. And you are not being selfish in a bad way when you put yourself first. In this world of academia, you only need people on your team who are just as committed to your success as you are. You need people who are not afraid to check on your shit. And who also able to support you through difficult times—cause this grad school stuff is not for the faint of heart and there will be difficult times ahead. Basically, you must only take what is necessary.
I myself have been doing a relationship cleanse. Taking a friendventory so to speak. And each time I do, I mentally become lighter and lighter. Letting go of people that may have been toxic is the most liberating thing ever.
How are some ways you and your circle support each other in this academia world? I would love to hear how u have had to take “friendventory.”