I ran into one of my graduate school classmates during my commute to work this morning. Rather than just acknowledging each other’s presence, we ended up conversing the entire time we traveled together. Conversations related to our program usually have the risk of turning into a session of high-strung complaining and draining negativity. I was grateful that my conversation with this particular classmate did not go down that path. We shared concerns and disappointments regarding the program constructively rather than burning it into the ground. We also shared some laughs about obscure or amusing interactions with some of our professors. I was even comfortable in explaining my “venting” notebook when she noticed it in my hand, and we both agreed on how difficult it is to manage the stress of graduate school while also trying to handle any personal things going on.
I have a tendency to fall into unproductive, condescending complaining, a vice that leaves me dissatisfied and like a true “Debbie Downer.” I’ve found that this negativity likes company and unites others to gang up on something they’re upset by, a pattern I’ve paid attention to in my program. I always appreciate running into people who emanate empathy and a certain vibe that filters out the deconstructive comments to allow for healthy venting. I’m trying to build up the habit of recognizing the negative but to also find the silver lining.