Last week, at long last, I finished my first semester of graduate school. Everyone who I talked to said library school was easy—and I’m sure it is easy, compared to more rigorous Master’s and PhD programs. But for me, the first semester of library school was still immensely challenging.
I had removed myself from the extremely supportive environment of Fredericksburg, VA, where all my friends and family are, and moved to a completely new state. I bought a new car, because my old one was falling apart, and signed a lease on an apartment I’d never seen. I committed to tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt to help pay for my graduate program. And I did all of this while trying to work through the depths of my mental health problems—horrible anxiety and comorbid depression. I spent most days of my first month in North Carolina just hoping against hope that I could eat enough food to sustain me through a normal day of existence. As I was able to increase the dosage of my medication, the panic eventually began to subside.
At the same time, I slowly began to adjust to the workload of all of my classes. (Being who I am, especially with crippling anxiety, I couldn’t imagine not completing a reading for class, so I spent most of my free time reading for class.) As the semester progressed, papers, group assignments, and more piled on top of what already seemed like a heavy workload. (I also work 15 hours a week, which turns out to be closer to 20 hours with commute time in consideration.)
As I finally evened out on my medications and adjusted to workloads of class and work, I heard people in my program proclaiming that grad school was “so easy” and that they didn’t know what other people were stressing about. It was incredibly invalidating to me to hear my classmates speaking about how “easy” grad school was and how they had been misled into thinking that library school would be more difficult than it truly was. Especially because for me, the opposite was true—everyone had assured me that library school was very easy, that I’d have nothing to worry about, and that the workload of class and regular work would be manageable. However, in the depths of my anxiety, the workload of grad school felt anything but manageable. I’m incredibly grateful to be on the other side now, but I rue the fact that so many of my classmates felt that graduate school was easy and brushed it off so (seemingly) carelessly.
Perhaps it’s because I truly care about learning, which most people seem not to care about, or perhaps it’s because I truly care about doing well while pursuing higher eduation; or perhaps it’s because my anxiety doesn’t allow me to engage in education in a non-stressful way; or perhaps it’s because I’m just too sensitive. Whatever the case, I wholeheartedly reject the idea that graduate school—even library school—is easy, and instead I encourage my classmates to consider where everyone else might be coming from and how they can help support their classmates, especially if they find the challenges of graduate school to be easy.