Graduate School Separation Anxiety. It doesn’t exist in the DSM-IV TR (though I’m not sure if it’s proposed in the DSM V alongside Bad Baby Syndrome and Fantasy Football Disorder) but it certainly feels real. I put in a solid 6 semesters (including juggling work, fieldwork, and everyday life) yet now at the bitter end, I find myself looking at the course schedule for next term. There’s not supposed to BE a next term for me. I’m done. Over and out. So what is this feeling that is intruding upon the merriment that is supposed to come with graduation? GSSA.
For two years I have been a student. Granted, I’ve been a student before and may be one again, but “student” is a title that grants a sense of knowing what will come next. After Fall term, comes Spring. After X class, comes Y. Leaving “student” behind…well what comes next? There’s a few things to check off the list like the license test, applying for the limited permit, obtaining a job, accruing hours, etc. Yet there’s a lack of overarching structure that is lost once exiting the world of “student’ that can be downright terrifying and makes that next semester look mighty good.
The cure for GSSA? Rather than considering it a “letting go” of the safe haven of school, I’m trying to re-frame it as embracing the *new* professional I am about to become. It’s a different feeling for me – as a career switcher – to leave the comfort of the known but it’s an exciting move and a time to accept the pat on the back for a job well done and recognize that completing grad school (albeit, again) is an accomplishment. So, to all the other students who are about to shed that title, I wish you the best! Polish up the resume, hit the streets, and get ready for the ride of your life.