On Libraries and Doctoral Admissions

I currently am in the library working on a paper, and I am reminded of how much I have missed access to university libraries’ troves of knowledge. (Unlimited JSTOR access also doesn’t hurt. I burned through my (non-student) limited allowance of reads very quickly each month while I was out of school.) Although I do feel like a troll emerging from a cave each time I leave D-Level and venture back into the human world, it is that weird kind of caffeine-induced feverish academia which gives me a rush. A leisurely stroll through the stacks results in a rather lengthy reading list growing in my arms. A panicked hunt for a much-needed volume for a paper (when I look like an idiot while waving my arms at the lights’ sensors to prevent the stacks’ lights from dimming) reminds me of the privilege and pleasure it is to be able to study. A click of my touchpad and I can order a volume from any of several other universities’ libraries along the East Coast. One is on its way to me from Harvard as I type this, and another is coming to me from Yale. If I am in the mood for less frantic studying and reading, I can cozy up in the Atrium or the Hut and spend many hours growing my brain and refining, or even challenging, my world views. Truly, libraries all are magical, but a university library is a special kind of happiness.

The paper I am creating now is my very last for the summer semester. I can’t believe that I already am nearing completion of my first semester of graduate school. I have survived mountains of readings, carpal-tunnel inducing papers, and feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome for three months. I’ve learned so much in such a short time from both professors and students. I’ve fallen in love with Charm City and couldn’t be happier to be a Blue Jay. I don’t know if I will be staying at Hopkins for the doctorate, but this feeling of reassurance that I belong in school and am making the most of this opportunity will stick with me always.

My thoughts now turn to the upcoming doctoral admissions cycle. I’m terrified, to be quite blunt. What if I don’t receive an offer from one of my top choices? What if I don’t receive any offers? There are many great schools in this country, but I will be applying only to a handful of them. Not just my background but my ability to be a good fit will be on the line, and the reasons I could receive a rejection are significantly higher than they were for the master admissions cycle. Some of the programs where I will be applying accept fewer than five applicants out of at least a few hundred hopefuls. I am fortunate to have a great advisor and to attend a school with lots of resources for this adventure, but I still could not be more anxious or frightened.

I don’t know how much I will be blogging about the admissions cycle. There are a finite number of ways to express the emotions I mentioned previously, and I don’t want this blog to become a cesspool of stress and anxiety. I want to remember all the wonderful things about my time at Hopkins, however long it may be. I want to remember my favorite study haunts and the regulars I see there. I want to remember the regulars I see at the rec who have given me tips when I was training alone. I want to remember the magic of walking onto campus for the very first time. Even if a doctoral program elsewhere is where I go, I want to remember that I always will be a Blue Jay. #gohop.

On an Unrelated Note…

I never forget what a privilege and what an honor it is to study at such a school. I forever am grateful of all the opportunities the Johns Hopkins University has granted to me. Professionally, academically, intellectually, emotionally, and mentally this school has given me more than I ever could hope to return to the future. I promise that I will not waste this opportunity. I may have earned my way into this community, but I will make sure to pay it forward.

Forever, our Johns Hopkins. #gohop

On Feelings and Thoughts

I more or less believe that MBTI is for people who are “too scientific for astrology” but want some sort of guideline or mold in which to believe. I find psychology fascinating, but it is not my chosen field for a reason. However, for the record, I tested three times as INTJ. Fairly heavily on all four categories. (Although I think all three results are nonsense since it isn’t too difficult to manipulate the test.) I’m fairly skilled at feeling all the things without actually feeling the emotions from all the things. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but it is the best way to describe myself. I very much have a detached, outsider-looking-in-the-box sort of perspective with most things. Unfortunately, I have been called callous on more than one occasion due to this personality trait. I also have been called sensitive, so take that as you will.

I believe in empathy. I believe in compassion. I believe in responsibility. I believe in science. ┬áIf I held any religious tenants, they would be those. Reading the news lately, and particularly yesterday, has started to make me lose hope. I’ve mentioned this before, but I describe myself as an eternally optimistic misanthrope. I believe in human beings’ capacities for sincere kindness, but I hold that we are failing miserably in doing so. As I slowly lose that little glimmer of hope which keeps me motivated, I can’t help but wonder if I we even are worth saving. It’s when I think of my students, of the next generation which hasn’t been responsible in creating this world which does not deserve them, that I find my strength to push forward.

I am of the opinion that those of us in the social sciences have a greater obligation than most humans not to harm and to view our careers as service. Yet, if the world is going to go up in flames, if we can’t share our ideas or make them accessible, what even are we accomplishing? These events make me more certain than ever before that we must remember to bring our services to people outside the academic community. We can’t hoard our researches and evaluations in journals in order to fuel our egos and our neoliberal exchanges of knowledge as a marketable good while disregarding the reasons why we entered the social sciences.

We have a responsibility. We have a duty. Do no harm. Serve.

I am in this field for a reason. I am in graduate school for a reason. It is time to set aside my feelings once more, to re-direct them into energy for study and research, and use my voice to make the voices of the marginalized no longer be excluded.