Jump to content

Coping Mechanisms


Recommended Posts

What are you doing to keep yourself from freaking out while you wait to hear from programs?

One thing I did is I made a calendar for myself that lists the earliest reported interview date for each of my programs in past years, as well as the earliest and latest reported acceptances. That way, I can tell if it's too early to expect to be contacted with an acceptance or interview request. I can also use this to get a sense of when to start bracing myself for rejection. If I pass the point at which most acceptances would normally be sent out, then I'd rather brace myself for a wait list or outright rejection and then be surprised with an unexpected late acceptance.

That of course still means that I'm going to be slightly crazy during the month of February... between February 1 and March 12, there isn't a single day that I coudn't potentially get an acceptance from at least four of the eight programs to which I applied. (Well, nine, but one already rejected me; they must have really hated me). There are a few schools that might interview or even accept students before or after that window, but not many.

I also agree with those of you who say that keeping busy is essential. I'm thinking of asking my friends for recommendations of really engrossing books or TV series I've never read/seen. Or I might have a Keep Me Sane Campaign, in which I ask local friends to schedule activities with me that will keep me distracted when I'm not at work. I'd consider scheduling a visit to some of my friends or family, but for me visiting friends and family often comes with a lot of introspection as we catch up on life, the universe, and everything. So maybe more busy-fun, like a sci-fi convention, where there's always ten bazillion things to do at once.

One other thing I might do is brainstorm some Plan B options; some of the topics on this forum actually already helped with that. Knowing that I won't be stuck at my job, that there are other options to explore, and that this isn't the end if I don't get in -- that I could try again, or do things that are more in line with what I want to do and will help my next application attempt -- actually makes a huge difference.

--below here, babbling about my personal experiences with waiting and rejection--

It also helps that I've been through this or similar processes many times. I applied to two masters programs straight out of undergrad, and got rejected by one and waitlisted by the other. Then, after an awesome internship, I was unemployed, temporarily employed, or extremely dissatisfied with my employment for five years, which meant I was CONSTANTLY job searching. Finally, fed up, I applied to three different masters programs and got accepted to two. There I discovered that I want to do research after all (which is not why I went). Coming out of my master's, I applied very sloppily to a few doctoral programs, and was not surprised when I was rejected. But by then I was at a job that was mostly satisfying. It's still the best job I've ever had, but it's changed in some ways I didn't want. More importantly, 2.5 years doing work that is almost exactly what I used to want to do, for a very satisfactory salary, has not changed the fact that I really want to do research. Hence the applications for Fall 2012.

Anyway, I know my story can't directly help others. But maybe it shows that experience will make the waiting easier. And maybe it will show that pessimistic perseverance is a valid coping mechanism. Sure, when I think about the possibility that they might all reject me, I feel depressed. In some ways, I fear my reaction more than the actual rejection, if that makes any sense. I fear feeling worthless. But facing that fear, accepting it, and planning primarily for failure helps me to see that the world will not end if I fail. It makes it bearable.

The antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds help too, but those are for conditions that existed before these grad school apps! :)

Peace, tranquility, and happy distraction to you all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use