The Truth Behind the Smile

I am less than three months away from being done with school; where has the last year and a half gone?! As I mentioned in my post a few weeks ago, it has been a crazy ride but one that I am glad I took. There are, of course, the educational and career centered benefits that I have and will continue to enjoy, but this time has also been a reminder to myself of what I can accomplish.

I started this blog to capture my journey, not only as a way for me to look back and reflect on my time in the program, but also to act as a guide, helping hand, or motivating force for anyone who happened to stumble upon it. For the most part, I have been open and honest about the trials, tribulations, and moments of joy that have made up my journey. I’ve discussed what it is like to keep things in balance, tips for healthy living, and even how to deal with the doubters. However, there is an area of struggle that I have declined to share in my MBA story, an area that is not fun to think about, and even less fun to live, but one that plays an important role one’s ability to survive and thrive in grad school. People always ask how I manage to balance school and work, let alone having a life outside of those two, topics I have discussed at length here. One thing that people don’t ask (probably because it is a rather invasive question) is how to maintain that balance when life outside of school and work throws a fireball at you. We all get them at some point in our life, the event that throws your world into chaos, turns your focus, and generally makes things that are important harder to manage. Those events are enough of a pain when you have a singular focus, whether it be school or work or something else all together. Add it to an already crowded agenda, and your carefully balanced ship starts to list a bit or even sink. As a grad student who has worked hard to do well, facing a threat of that size to their level of success is quite daunting. The pressure to refocus and continue perform is there, but the energy to execute can sometimes be hard to find.

Now, I recognize this post has a rather different tone than the rest, something that was done intentionally. My approach to life has long been an optimistic one. I find the silver lining or look to the brighter future. On days where I am unable to do that, I try to hide the struggle with a smile. It’s not always easy, but the idea of “fake it til it’s true” has some merit to it. A smile is bound to get you ¬†further than a frown. For anyone who is reading this blog, I want my posts to deliver a sense of motivation, an affirmation that grad school is something they can take on. However, I don’t want to sugar coat the realities of the impact that a life event, major, minor, or somewhere in between, can have on the grad school journey, or whatever journey you may be on. I don’t have a universal solution to facing these types of events; the solution is dependent on the person and their unique situation. The one piece of advice I can offer is to take it one day at a time, find strength in yourself, and surround yourself with people who can lend a little of their strength on the days where yours is running on low. Growing up my mom always told me that every day is a gift, and she was right. Life will hand you days that are less wonderful than others, but you were still given that day. No matter the situation, you always have the power to decide how you will approach that day. So choose an approach that makes you feel stronger, even if it’s only strong enough to make it through that day. It’s sounds a little sappy, but I promise it works.

 

Best,

Katherine