1. you got in, you deserve to be there and you belong there.
2. you’re not in school to become a perfect human being. you’re there to gain (and produce) some specialized knowledge, and that’s all.
3. you don’t have to read everything. focus on what matters to you.
4. you can’t read everything. or do everything.
5. students tend to intimidate each other, intentionally or not. focus on building personal friendship beyond the surface; if that’s difficult, keep them out of your life.
6. always prioritize your health and well-being.
7. write down your thoughts frequently. it makes you feel productive. productivity is an ableist, capitalist logic.
8. make friends in other departments. you’ll probably learn more from them (academically) than friends within your department (with whom you may be in competition just because of the structure of your program).
9. some people and some institutions will always be oppressive no matter what you do to change them. don’t fight hard, but fight wisely.
10. it’s all a game.
11. never punish yourself for “not doing enough” (=napping, procrastinating, watching Netflix, socializing, spacing out, etc.).
12. don’t spend your energy with people who can’t pronounce your name.
13. develop a self-evaluation system that’s unrelated to your academic work (e.g. cooking skills, exercise regimen, calling friends often).
14. don’t jump into a committed relationship just to get away from schoolwork or make yourself feel better. that’s what hookups are for.
15. don’t use your romantic relationship as an excuse to quit.
16. be proud of what you do. you’re doing something no one else can do. what the curriculum can offer is only half of your education; the other half is you.
17. focus on yourself, especially if you want to help/support others. be generous to yourself if you wanna be generous to others. put on your oxygen mask first before helping your child. ensure your safety first before rescuing your cat from the burning house.
18. you don’t need to get used to this. you will eventually graduate anyway.
19. you can’t read everything.
20. but you can keep writing. and working. and playing. and dancing.
21. be a light. as you make your way, show the folk behind you how it’s done, so maybe they won’t have as many dark days as you’ve had.
best of luck to all of us. and don’t forget to nap!
(Many thanks to Háruki Y. S. Eduardo-Ha for providing tips #1-21)