For those of you who have never been grad students at Georgia Tech, you may not know that its a normal state of existence that at least once a month you find yourself crying because you hate your life. Most try to make it home before they let the tears out, but sometimes a grad student finds herself sitting at her desk and about to burst into tears. It happens*.
To me it happened last Friday.
I had pulled an almost all-nighter on Thursday. For those of you who know me well, you know that I go to bed at ten pretty much every night. So staying up to 2 am is a big deal. And I was prepared to stay up all night, if that's what it took to get my homework assignment done. Luckily, I was in bed by like three.
So Friday, I got up at eight, and running on five hours of sleep, I went to my ten o'clock class. I'm still not sure what the professor was talking about, not because it was incredibly hard to understand, but because I was so tired.
After this class, I immediately went to the Flight Hardware Lab to test our Star Tracker. It's ok if that's jibberish. The important point here is that I was supposed to be testing a $25,000 piece of equipment, and it didn't work. IT DIDN'T WORK. If this thing fails, my professor is literally going to kill me. Or destroy my academic career. Pretty much the same thing.
For an hour, I unplugged and replugged. I cajoled and begged. I turned on and off. I did everything I could think of to make my star tracker work, and it just wouldn’t do it.
To top it all off, right at the end of it, my Project Manager came in and said, “Hey, you’re staying to help organize the lab, right?”
I stared at my broken star tracker, turned to look at him, and said “WHAT? You can’t just tell me last minute something’s going to happen and expect it to happen! I have plans this afternoon. I have to do my PROX-1 write-up, and I have to grade the orbital homework, and I have to finish Rocket Propulsion. I do not have time for a last minute ‘help me clean up’ thing.”
Project Manager’s response was “Uh, I sent out the email two days ago.”
Me: “Not to me. No. No. No. It’s not happening.” I then cleaned up the star tracker and left the room. Now, my response to Project Manager was a little snappier than my usual attitude. In my defense, I was running on very little sleep and very frustrated with my star tracker. And he did not send me the email, which we definitely clarified later that day. And he was all like “My bad”.
But at this point in the day, I was very upset. I went back to my desk, trying to figure out if I had time to get lunch, and just wanted to call my bestest friend. However, my bestest friend has a real life now, a real job, and I couldn’t just call in her the middle of the day.**
Suddenly I wanted to burst into tears. I have no friends, I realized. All my friends had graduated and had real jobs, and here I was at school, busting my back to make almost no money, and pretty much living the most miserable existence possible. I wanted to curl up under my desk, and just cry.***
But I told myself I would not cry in the AE building (again) and told myself to go get lunch.
So I left my office with the intention of going to a nearby Tech grill called Juniors. I knew the line would be short and it would be an easy in and out. However, when I was almost there, my walking slowed down and I thought "Huh, I really don't feel like getting Juniors. I feel like Chick-fil-A instead." There was no logical reason for me wanting Chick-fil-A. I knew the lines would be ten times longer and I would probably just get hungry and frustrated--on top of my tears. However, I changed my trajectory and went to the Student Center for some chicken nuggets.
So there I was, standing in the line of the student center, thinking about how much I hated my life and how I had know friends and how I wanted to drop out of grad school right now because it sucks****, when suddenly I heard someone say "MANDY!"
I turned and there stood one of my guy friends, who had been my friend all through undergrad, who no longer went to Tech, and who I hadn't seen in months.
I have never been so happy to see one of my friends before, and I spent the next hour eating lunch with him and realizing, I do have friends.
Then an hour after lunch, one of my local graduated friends called me and said "What are you doing tomorrow night?" To which my response was of course "Whatever you're doing!"
Friday morning was miserable. At noon I wanted to give up and wallow in a friendless world of self pity. But God heard this pitiful cry of my heart. He heard even though I didn't pray about it and saw that I just wanted to roll over and give up. And He answered. Oh boy, did He answer and I heard.
You have friends, He shouted (not whispered). Don't give up. Don't you dare give up. I love you, and this is my plan for you right now.
And that's why I love my God. Because He hears the cry of my heart. He hears my unspoken, unuttered desired, and He gives me what I need to go on.
He loves me, and He won't let me give up.
So don't you give up either. When you're at your most desperate, God will be there. When you want to just lock yourself in your office's bathroom and cry, He is there. When you're life sucks, He's there. He loves you. Don't give up.
*You may think this is only a habit of females but it's not. Especially around quals, midterms, finals, proposals, deadlines, defenses, ok...so that's like almost every day in grad school. But I've seen males break down into tears too.
**Yes, Alisha, I realized I could have because it was a Friday and you work half days, but remember, I was running on very little sleep. I didn’t realize that at the time.
***Honestly, the only thing stopping me was that such a display of emotion might freak out my French fellows who I share an office with. Probably more because they're guys than French. Guys rarely know how to react when a girl cries.
****This wasn't really a serious thought. Nothing short of divine intervention could make me drop out of grad school. I want my Masters degree really really really bad.