It’s over. The deadline has come and gone. You’re done. You have handed in everything they have asked for. Now you can finally sit back and relax. Or can you?
I remember how I felt the day I finally handed in all my application materials. There was a sigh of relief and a fleeting feeling of accomplishment immediately followed by nail biting anxiety… now I have to wait?! It was complete torture thinking about the 1-2 months I had to endure before hearing a decision that would affect the course of my life.
I had a terrible image of myself months later – twitchy, disheveled, one stenciled on eyebrow because I had nervously pulled it out, maybe carrying a plastic duck and making quacking noises under my breath as I stare fixedly at my mailbox. After considering if I could turn the one eyebrow thing into a new fashion trend, I realized dwelling on the committee’s future decision was unhealthy. I had done everything I could, given them everything they had asked for and put my best effort into the essays. I no longer had any influence over the process. So, rather than sit around waiting for the ax or congratulation balloons to fall, I decided to make myself busy.
I was fortunate enough to be in Spain at the time, so I bid tearful farewell to my ESL students, grabbed my backpack, and took off across the country.
It was an amazing experience and, better yet, I hardly thought about graduate school at all. OK, that’s a lie, but at least I wasn’t obsessing over it (for which my eyebrows thank me). However, this might be a bit impractical for the rest of you so I have put together a brief list of suggestions.
- Grab an Internship – If you don’t already have one, now is the perfect time to get one. It will only help you by preparing you for your future academic adventure and introducing you to the field you are striving to enter.
- Start a Hobby – Get into rock collecting (a lot more exciting than it sounds) or finally start that band you have been talking about since high school. Studies are showing that interviewers are looking for more from candidates than work experience, they want to be able to connect with you. Therefore, if you have an interesting hobby/interest you will have a lot more to discuss, laugh, bond over.
- Write a Novel – “”How you uh, how you comin’ on that novel you’re working on? Huh? … Your big novel you’ve been working on for 3 years?” We’ve all wanted to at some point before talking ourselves out of it because no one will want to read about a lone gun slinging space captain who is unwillingly drawn into an intergalactic war and must fight her way to the truth all the while fighting with her need to stay independent…. Erm. Anyways, start one and, even if it doesn’t go anywhere, you’ll have a story to tell about the experience.
- Travel – Pack up your bags and hit the road, friend, you’re not meant for this small town crap *spits* (I need to stop watching TV). Plan some trips. They don’t have to be extravagant, just go somewhere you have never been. Who knows, it might turn into one hell of an adventure, or it might not.
- Volunteer – Go, improve your moral fiber. Give of yourself unto your community. This is good for several reasons: it distracts you, looks good on your resume, and you’ll be helping someone in need.
These were just a couple suggestions to get you thinking about how to fill up your time. If you have any suggestions or experiences you’d like to share feel free to leave them in the comments. I am all about vicarious living.