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Aftermath of finishing grad school [Psychological impact]

HorusHorus Los AngelesRegistered User regular
My thesis got approved about three weeks. So far I had this pseudo life crisis of "Now what?" followed by "I am lonely" to "How do I socialize?"

A bit of my background, I started grad school four years ago (25) while working full time (60+ hour job) so that left me with little to no social life. Now that I accomplished this dream, I now have this sense of void and what to do with my life mind-set. I am being proactive about this by joining work events, cooking classes, volunteering opportunities, exercising and having reunions at my house, my friends do invite me out so I do have a social circle to name a few.

My question for those who did the full time work and school dance, when you finished did you have moments of "What do I do with my free time?" or "Now what?" etc.

I just want to see if what I am going through is normal since I am having a drastic change of lifestyle/routine. Hopefully there are some PA folks who experienced something similar and can give me some insight.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Posts

  • JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
    I just got my bachelor's, but yeah, I feel the same way.

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  • TerrendosTerrendos Decorative Monocle Registered User regular
    I had the same thing. Basically my entire life I spent knowing exactly what I was going to do, what was coming next, etc. Even when I neared the end of my Bachelor's, I knew I was going to grad school so it was just the next step in the plan. When it was over, for the first time in my life I didn't have any definite plan, and it was kind of scary. I hadn't managed to line up a job in school, so I didn't have anywhere to go except to look for work.

    It'll probably take a few weeks or so to adjust, but you at least still have a job, so it won't be that big of a change. Then it will finally hit you that you'll never have to do another problem set for the rest of your life (or whatever would be comparable for your degree). That will be a glorious day indeed.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    my advice is let it sink in for a bit, you earned a bit of relaxation. its perfectly normal to feel what you are feeling. give it a week or so before starting to worry

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  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    I had a similar experience to you in college. I took as many classes I could per quarter, sometimes having to write eighteen papers in ten weeks. Then over the summer, I would work two to three jobs at once.

    On the rare occasion I had a day off, I didn't know what to do with myself. Then my course load got scaled back, and I basically felt the way you do. I'd completely forgotten how to relax. And even worse, if I started to do something relaxing, I felt like shit about myself because I kept feeling like I needed to be doing something productive.

    Hanging out with your friends is a good idea. They'll help a lot. People enjoy feeling like they got somebody to loosen up and have fun.

    But try to find a hobby you enjoy doing by yourself. That way you can have some alone time without feeling uncomfortable.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I spent all my time in the lab with my independent research advisor/sometimes-boss. I felt really close to him and the other people who worked in his lab, and when I graduated all of that was just.. gone. I still miss that time, and graduation felt like a real loss to me.

    I guess the best thing to do is find a hobby. I've found a few things I really like to do, and it does help.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    KetBra
  • HorusHorus Los AngelesRegistered User regular
    Omg, thank you everyone! I just wanted to know what I am feeling is a common experience because I went from complete work grind to trying to reteach myself to sleep in on the weekend. Really appreciate everyone sharing their experiences and I do need to let it sink in. Happy holidays everyone!

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
    ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
  • KiasKias Registered User regular
    Good advice and it sounds like you have the right idea. Get out, stay in with a good book/game, enjoy life, dabble in a few hobbies until something sticks.

    As for normalcy, I finished up my Masters over a year ago and I still feel like I am on permanent vacation since I am only working now. For the first year, I had some anxiety, even a few days of minor panic where I was sure I was forgetting to prepare for something important in class because I felt like I had done so little, but for the most part that all settled once I got it in my head that the time outside of work was actually mine again for the first time in 7 years.

    And let me tell you, once it settles in, it is a damn fine feeling.

    Happy holidays!

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    The dreams will go away after about a year or so.

    If they haven't started yet they will. You'll wake up remembering that your third revision is supposed to be checked today so you can get started on the fourth and hopefully final revision to your thesis.

    You'll have weird sensory memories that'll kick off while your listening to music, walking going out.

    It's odd, but as everyone said that sort of weirdness wears off and your like fucking A I'm done.

    The only thing that is bothersome, is about once a year since I've had my masters I feel compelled to look at getting a phd or a hard science masters to compliment my mba, but I think better of it. Maybe I'm a masochist at heart. Maybe I just don't want to eat another 20-25k in student loans, but it passes, and I keep going to work.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Try new things while you're still in the "must do stuff" mode. It's a great time to pick up some long-time pursuits and setup some good permanent habits.

  • TerrendosTerrendos Decorative Monocle Registered User regular
    zepherin, going to have to disagree on what you said about the dreams passing in a year. My parents both told me they still had an occasional nightmare about missing classes or forgetting exams up until about 5 years ago. It's been a year since I graduated and I still get those dreams pretty frequently.

    furlion
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Terrendos wrote: »
    zepherin, going to have to disagree on what you said about the dreams passing in a year. My parents both told me they still had an occasional nightmare about missing classes or forgetting exams up until about 5 years ago. It's been a year since I graduated and I still get those dreams pretty frequently.
    Ymmv. It's intense some post grad should write their thesis on whether her grad school causes mild cases of PTSD... And perhaps becoming a subject herself.

    zepherin on
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Seriously, I'm 9 years out of undergrad and still have exam dreams occasionally.

  • HorusHorus Los AngelesRegistered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    Seriously, I'm 9 years out of undergrad and still have exam dreams occasionally.

    HA! PSTD.... Coming back from a out of town trip. Literally driving home I started freaking out that I had something to do but didn't know what. My god.... finals will always haunt me.

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
    ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
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