Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This month on BearTracks, we’re going to be hearing from a number of graduate students from different fields talk about the process of finding their people. Some of these stories will talk about finding your people in academia, like making friends in your department, finding a faculty mentor, or joining a writing group. Others will talk about finding your people outside of academic life (yes, that is a thing and an important thing!), like joining a spiritual community, heading up a pub trivia team, or meaningful charity work.

Regardless of where you are in graduate school, it’s important to surround yourself by people you genuinely like and who bring you joy, health, and deep relationship. Life is too short and too stressful to electively hang out with people who bring you down! The people you surround yourself with in graduate school will be the people who write your recommendation letters on the job market, the people who become the godparents of your children, the people who cover your classes when you have the flu, and the people who scrape you up off the floor after your first publisher rejection and then bring over martini makings when you get your first acceptance. These relationships matter.

We’re not meant to go through life alone, and grad school is a time in life where this is especially true. Whether you live alone, with roommates, with a spouse or partner, or with a large family, it’s critical to prioritize the relationships in your life, even when deadlines and stacks of grading loom overhead like Eeyore’s raincloud in Winnie the Pooh. Our relationships form and direct our sense of vocation and purpose.

But before we launch this series, we want to take this opportunity to stress the importance of a healthy relationship with yourself. The person you will spend the most time with during graduate school is YOU! After 2020 and all that it held, humanity’s collective mental health took a real nosedive. If you are struggling, even just a little bit, consider scheduling a counseling appointment with the Baylor Counseling Center, or ask for a referral from them for a local, in-network therapy provider. You don’t have to be in an all-out crisis to go to counseling, and it’s never a sign of weakness to admit you need help or just a listening ear. Going to therapy is investing in yourself for the long run.

Anna E. Beaudry is a second-year English PhD student studying 19th-century American literature. Her primary area of research focuses on female writers in the New England regionalist movement and material feminisms. She earned her Master’s at Baylor University in May 2020. Anna is Baylor’s Graduate Writing Center coordinator and president of the English Graduate Student Association. She is also BearTracks blog editor for the Graduate School.