Monday, September 22, 2008

Life Happens...

Because it had to be said, so I guess I’m going to be the one to say it…

Recently I was talking with a friend while we were watching an episode of “Project Runway” (which is decidedly disappointing this season, but that is entirely not the point of this post) together.

And the subject of what advice we would give to first-year sociology grad students came up. What would we tell them that we know now, but didn’t know before we started grad school?

For me that’s an easy one:

Um… Don’t get sick?!? Just kidding… Although that is kind of good advice.

However, what I would really tell them is:

Life happens.

Now, it sounds deceptively simple, right? But the truth is, your sucked into graduate school with the naïve thought that you are going to spend the next five years (or more, as the case may be) in relative solitude, doing research, etc., but the outside world won’t apply to you. Well, the upcoming Presidential Election might, but really, not much else.

But I think for some people I know, it is truly shocking to imagine that there is a world of things that can happen outside of and aside from graduate school that make, not only getting through graduate school, but getting through the day, something that takes will and determination… not to mention… medication…

I can remember, really not so long ago, although sooner than I think, I will have spent a decade out of high school. And when I embarked on my journey to undergrad, I was filled with a similar feeling. For the next four years, I am going to be untouchable. All that is going to matter is school.

Now, this isn’t meant to sound selfish. It’s merely meant to be the truth (and possibly an indictment of higher education in America today).

Certainly, even in undergrad, crappy stuff happened. But it was nothing that, at least at the time, appeared to be life altering.

And then grad school happened. And it was as if getting into grad school meant that the next five years of my life were going to be filled with everything a person could want – financial security, romance, fun, and most importantly, a clean bill of health.

Well, my naïve thinking couldn’t have been further from the truth… because not long after entering grad school, as the story goes… I got sick.

And the thing is, I fear that I’m not the only one to hold this completely ridiculous notion in my head. I fear that others will hold it for much longer than I did and that when they fall, the sheer shock of it happening will prevent them from getting up again.

I don’t mean for this message to sound overly morose. In fact, I actually think that this is a fairly optimistic way of thinking. It doesn’t set you up for false hopes or disappointment. It means that things aren’t always going to go the way you planned.

So, it’s totally true. Life happens (Yeah, life. Life is what happens when you were to busy looking the other way). It’s a hard lesson to learn, and I’m not about to say that I’m glad I learned it when I did… Having a chronic illness just makes dealing with life (and everything that comes with it) a heck of a lot more difficult.


  1. Hi Leslie,

    I've been struggling with symptoms since this winter/spring and have my first Rheumatology appointment this Friday. Your blog has been such an encouragement to me and has help tide me over until meeting with the doctor. Is there a link on your blog where I could email you and get your advice for my appointment? I am nervous that my doctor will think I have "difficult woman sydrome", but I know there is something wrong with my body.

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Brooke,
    I tried clicking on the link to your name, but the page couldn't be displayed, so I really hope you get this message. Please feel free to e-mail me at! I'm sorry to hear that you are having symptoms, but am totally willing to talk.