Rite of Passage

I have a wise friend, mentor, and role model, KL. She’s a graduate student at Yale and is fantastic — she’s a fiber lover, was one of my first friends at college, and is my go-to person when my life (seems like it) is going to pieces.

Most recently, of course, this was about my prelim.

I took nearly two weeks off, simply to devote to studying. And before that, I was mostly working half days to study. I’ve eaten my weight in bagels, just so I can sit at my favorite big table at Einstein Bros. across the street and get a bunch done.

Of course, because it is me, I had many crises of confidence. One minute I was fine, the next I was absolutely positive I would fail the exam and be sent packing. I find my identity through my work — whether it is work in the lab or academics or working at a horse stables or spinning wool, I judge my worth based on the scores and praise and affirmation of others. I’m not saying it is a good thing (it isn’t) and I’m working on changing that part of myself, but it’s there.

KL gave me very sage advice, though. “This is a rite of passage. Rites of passage are designed to be scary going in, but when you’re done you get to say ‘that wasn’t so bad!'”

And she was right.
But only after it was completely done.

I got to the genetics library (where I took my prelim with the other genetics students) at 8:30 for the sole reason of turning on the lights that buzzed the least. (Aside: these are serious buzzing lights. High school gym type of buzzing. Maybe start to actually go insane kind of buzzing).

People trickled in, I sat and studied. The test was handed out at 9:30. Half a bagel, a cup of coffee, a liter of water later (thank goodness for nalgenes), and SIX HOURS later, I left barely able to form complete sentences.

You read that correctly. Six hours. The test was so thick they couldn’t staple it. The last person to leave took 7 and a half hours. It was a serious test.

This morning, though, this was in my inbox:

Dear MGG First Years,

Congratulations, everyone passed the written prelim exam (and with room to

Thank goodness!!!

So what that means is I passed.
KL was right — now I can look back and say “it wasn’t so bad!” Well, maybe tomorrow I can say that.

In the meantime, I’m taking a break from science and from school for awhile.

But boy am I glad I passed! 🙂

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