Be Nice to Graduate Students
After reading the title, you’re likely either saying to yourself, “Well, duh – I try to be nice to everyone,” or, “But do I have to be nice to that person?” Both fair points, neither of which I’m addressing today. Instead, I’m talking about you.
Be nice to yourself! And yes, this applies to you even if you’re not a graduate student, or a student at all. You might think this falls under the category of common sense but, considering how wrong you’ve already been about this blog post, maybe you better hold your horses for a bit and read on, reader.
Okay, let’s break this thing down into two parts. Part 1: Be nice. What does that actually mean? And why does it matter? Being nice matters because it makes things go more smoothly, yes, but being nice also matters because it’s how we treat people who are important to us. Being nice to someone is a way of communicating that you care about their wellbeing and you want them to succeed- that you appreciate them as they are. So what does being nice mean in practice? How does it look?
It certainly requires a level of familiarity, even intimacy. It helps, for example, if you know someone’s personality, their preferences, and if you have a general sense of what’s going on in their lives. Luckily, you already meet all these criteria! However, we don’t often take the time to hash these things out about ourselves. Set aside maybe 5 minutes (even you can spare 5 minutes) to complete the following short questionnaire:
1. Briefly describe or list qualities that make up your personality. If it helps, ask your loved ones and/or roommates to contribute, or brainstorm what they might say about you.
2. List what matters to you. This can be a list of people/animals you love, places you love, qualities that matter to you (e.g. cleanliness, quiet, solitude), or things/activities you feel are important to you (e.g. going outside, nice clothes, strong whiskey).
3. What is causing you stress this moment/day/week/semester?
Part 2: To yourself. Now you’re ready to encounter the second part of this statement because you have a handy reference sheet you’ve created about yourself. You probably didn’t dig up anything that’s breaking news to you, but it’s still nice to see it all laid out like this. Read through your answers, imagining this is a different person- a person you care about, like a love interest, or a best friend.
Now, what are some things you might consider doing for this hypothetical person (because they matter to you, like we discussed earlier)? These don’t have to be elaborate; in fact, they can be extraordinarily simple. Maybe this person would enjoy a quiet afternoon hiking alone in the woods followed by a dinner out with someone they love. Maybe they’d prefer a Skype conversation with their parents followed by cuddling with their cat. Or maybe they’d like a massage and a good bottle of wine (no? just me?).
So why did we even bother writing down what’s stressing us out? This part is all about intention. We can’t be mindful or intentional if we haven’t taken the time to check in with ourselves. Now that you know and can literally see what’s going on with you, you can do a better job of taking care of yourself. You can be kind to yourself when you recognize that you’ve been working really hard and deserve a break, or you can lure yourself to finish that paper with some chocolate cake. Or a new book. Or… I don’t know, what else is there?
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that it’s impossible to be kind to someone when you haven’t set an intention to get to know them and to care for them. This includes you! Take care of yourself; you’re all that you’ve got. No one else is going to get you through/into that MFA program/life/everything. Besides, you deserve it. And, when you get around to it, everyone else deserves some kindness too.