The process is consuming me the same way comps did. There are days I walk down the hallway at school praying I don't see anyone I know who will ask how it is going because any seconds in my life where I am not thinking about jobs right now are a blessing. I recently ran into a new Ph.D. student who is incredibly sharp and one who I really would like to get to know better and she stopped and said "Hi!" and I realized in this moment that I'd lost my keys.
So when she asked, "How's it going?"
I say, frazzled, "I lost my keys."
Then I drop everything I'm holding as I search for them in a kind of insane and frantic "ohmygodthisismyf'inglife" kind of way.
She halfway smiles as I finally find them and says, "I'll catch you later," and exits as gracefully from my craziness as possible.
I often fear that that moment is a metaphor of how the new class sees me but I just don't have the energy to do much about it. Sometimes I want to tell them all:
This is what you become. Tread carefully, here.
But I know not everyone's graduate experience is the same. I know they have to learn themselves how to navigate this process, this marathon. I am relieved it is no longer my responsibility to guide them through it. Very relieved.