"You probably shouldn't take three classes...you'll have your work cut out for you," said my advisor last spring. Apparently it's taboo to take more than two classes a semester in my graduate program. Honestly, I'm used to having a lot on my plate, plus...extra history! I'm a sucker for learning. Things were a little different for me this semester aside from taking an extra class. I left target and began working in a school, I started to become much more organized, and I kept the same routine nearly every week. I also had weekends off to meal prep, sleep in a little, and actually do homework. While I had something due every week, it was manageable. I read books efficiently and ahead of time, I only procrastinated my very first paper, and I actually felt proud of the work I turned in. Organization and list-making has forever changed my work ethic, and I wish I was more diligent with it during undergrad.
As someone who is extremely hard on myself, I legitimately felt good on my essays this semester because I started to get A's in a class with challenging readings. I felt pretty accomplished after I nailed an essay on the 'commingling of Nazi political ideologies and the expansion of capitalist big-business interests'. As someone who is typically confused AF about economics/politics in the United States, I was literally ecstatic that I understood something so throughly. I read Ian Kershaw's The Nazi Dictatorship literally three times until the content finally clicked in my head. It was totally one of those cheesy moments where I was like "I get this!!! I can explain this!" Useless knowledge to you, perhaps, but it got me an A on an essay. Lol. It's the little things that make me the happiest.
On top of nailing this semester, I also passed both of my MTELs on the first try. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but tears were shed when I found out about my history score. For one, I studied for practically two weeks straight before the test, realizing how little I knew about world history. I blasted Beethoven's 9th on the way to the testing center in hopes that I would somehow feel enlightened after listening to a classical masterpiece...but I was still a nervous wreck. Needless to say, I felt rewarded for the amount of studying I put into those tests. I was also relieved that I wouldn't have to pay another $130 on a standardized test. ;)
To get to the heart of this post, I'd like to address something that people said to me all semester. "How do you stay so motivated?"
-For one: I absolutely love my degree program. I don't like the looks people give me when I tell them that I'm getting my Master's in History, but I'm a firm believer in doing things that make you happy. Call me naive. Getting this degree is something that feels natural to me, its only going to enhance my content knowledge and resourcefulness in the future.
-Two: Prioritization. My mantra was to prioritize things. The week was for work and the gym, the weekend was for homework, catching up with friends, and meal prepping. I also learned to prioritize my mental health and binged Netflix and didn't guilt myself for having a drink with dinner while I was with friends. I felt truly happy with balancing everything.
-Three: Organization. I've said it a million times, but being organized, making lists, and being proactive about list making helps. You don't need to be in school or even be busy, when you make lists and goals, hang them on your wall or place them on your desk, it makes a huge difference. Even if it's just for food shopping, or for the day. Writing things out and crossing them off is so satisfying.
For those of you who also finished up a semester in college, go you. It's certainly a lot of work, but all of the effort you put into these days/weeks/months teaches us to be more responsible and organized. Your grades are also a reflection of the effort you put into things. I sent countless emails to professors, stayed after class to ask questions and to chat about relevant social issues that related to class. Besides doing homework and nailing essays, remember to use your social skills to build connections with professors too! You never know when you need them for a recommendation or for a good book suggestion.
Take this break to treat yourself and relax. I will certainly be doing so!