Life as an Extreme Sport

where everybody knows your name

If anyone were to walk by the graduate student office right now, they might be concerned, worried, and ultimately puzzled, as I reassured them that no, no, everything is fine – I’m crying because I’m happy. But just sitting here, now, I basically burst into tears as I realized that I am happy. I am actually happy.

I’m making friends here. I’m starting to go out and socialize with folks from the department, but also people I’ve met through other means. I’m starting to make plans, I just invited someone in the department to take a few art classes with me in May, I’m meeting a handful of people in an hour or so just to hang out. I’m involved with activities, and I’m really starting to feel valued here. It’s weird to be a go-to person, but I am a go-to person – got a bioethics question? I’m ya gal. I get looped into other people’s office hours to help and harass students, I get asked to speak in general about some aspects of the field, or generalized publishing knowledge.

It’s not just school, though. There’s a local group trying to create a community feeling at a warehouse full of arts and crafts and fun and music, and they know me there – they know be my name, they bring in newspaper things to share with me, we talk about stuff. Not just what I do, either – we talk art and music and blueberries and the care and feeding of bees.

People are starting to call me on the phone.

People are starting to pick fights just to have a fun argument.

People are starting to make summer plans, and including me.

Last week, one of the grad students who’s been around longer than me looked up from the middle of a bunch of us having lunch and said, to me, in front of everyone, “you’re not just a team player, you organize the team and then you make everyone want to be a part of it.”

I think I’m just finally starting to feel like I can belong here, I do belong here.

There’s a lot of damage I need to…undo isn’t the right word. Repair is. It got bad, being me, for a while – I slid into a bad place, mentally just checked out of everything for a while. I had to curl around the little spark that was me and protect it, keep it lit. But I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m coming out of that funk, that the world will continue to turn into vibrant colours, that I’ll have a chance to apologize to those who deserve it, and make amends to those without whom I wouldn’t have so much that I do now. And that I’ll keep crying, not from sadness, but joy.


  1. Sweet. I had a very similar experience myself in grad school. Come to think of it, my three closest grad school friends had similar experiences.

    Maybe its a ritual, maybe its just something you have to go through…


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