I have never in my memory been so consistently happy for so long. I kind of don’t know what to do with it. Even when group projects come up, or an exam the whole class doesn’t feel prepared for, or a professor delivers a lecture that feels absurdly over my head… at the end of the day, I feel at peace. I’ve been trying to puzzle out what it is that is making me feel so contented though, potentially risking overthinking the whole thing and cancelling it out.
Theory 1. Maybe it’s Fall. My newfound love of the season hasn’t yet worn off, so I could just be in a honeymoon phase with falling leaves and sweaters. Hot tea is just so much more satisfactory when it’s cold outside. Also, actually seeing squirrels bury nuts for winter right in front of me felt pretty special when I’d never seen it done before.
Theory 2. Maybe it’s the valley itself! I could just be so happy to be out of Florida that I’m delirious, so even Mormonlandia seem a mountainous paradise in comparison. Admittedly, it pretty much is a mountainous paradise. There’s so much to do in the outdoors and I haven’t even scratched the surface… though I did register for a one credit snowboarding class for Spring, so winter sports here I come! Also, the whole Mormon thing seems surprisingly low-key in comparison to the bible belt, and way more low-key than the culty Christian college folks back in Pensacola. No one here in Logan is shouting about hellfire on the street corners, but the stores are all nearly deserted on Sundays. I think it’s the best of both worlds, really.
Theory 3. It could also be finally being in graduate school, surrounded by people that have the same interests or at least the same level of interest in a different but tangentially related subject. It turns out it’s hard NOT to make friends when you’re both passionate about the same sorts of things and in the same small room for between 3 and 20 hours a week. Also, I’m getting paid to do something I’ve been doing since I was twelve- reading about the brain and what it’s getting up to.
Theory 4. It’s some strange and miraculous combination of all three of the above. I’m feeling like this one is the most plausible. In any case though, I’m ridiculously pleased with the turns of fate that have brought me here to Logan. In fact, just last week I had the opportunity to be a part of a graduate student panel for an undergraduate Careers in Psych class. We were asked to talk about why we wanted to go to graduate school, any advice we had for those looking to get in, and our lives as student researchers. It was a strange experience, being in front of a large class and talking about my life now, especially since I was the only true “non-traditional” student there. It really made me appreciate just how lucky I am to be at a place in my life where I can feel simultaneously challenged and content.
Also, being in a lab where leftover Halloween candy mysteriously appear on my desk in the mornings and my colleagues semi-seriously discuss participating in the “Dance Your Ph.D” contest is pretty awesome.