We’re Only Human

Finishing Strong | New Faculty

It’s about that time in the semester. The feeling of being more frazzled than fresh. You feeling that way too?

As I sat in meetings setting deadlines for ‘the end of the month,’ I realized that that will mean the end of yet another academic year. Whether you’re a grad student, young faculty, or seasoned veteran, the odds that you’re running on empty or burning fumes are pretty high. And if you’re not, please email me your secret.

I’ve been running like the best of them lately, finishing 2.5 years worth of data collection, not having whole thoughts due to my brain racing, drinking too much coffee, and wishing that beyond anything, food didn’t contain calories at the moment.

I threw my back out/strained my lower back and it gently (ok, searing pain) reminded me that I’m only human. I cannot keep up this pace all of the time and spent the first day laying on my back, laying on an ice pack, with my back brace sitting next to me so I could strap in upon finally managing to sit up. It was the pits. I moved about rigidly and tried to take a flat land walk to keep things loose. I’ve got scoliosis and that doesn’t help. I also have some flexibility issues that flare up every few years and while bending over to grab milk that morning for my coffee, I felt the muscles spasm, tighten up, and proceeded to try and loosen things up w a walk about the house to no avail.

I took matters into my own hands and 24 hours after the initial strain and made an appointment with my massage therapist. As a regular there, it helped because I explained what happened and they fit me in that afternoon. I visit the chiropractor every two weeks and I wanted to promote my own healing. I’ve discussed self care before and a year ago, I would have let myself suffer. I consider it a win that I did invest in my own self care this time around.

As the end of the semester charges ahead, this has helped me reflect, forced me to relax, and helped me slow down and take time to smell the roses, even if I was hobbling at a snails pace while doing it. It has forced me to ask for more help for a few days and reminded me that I’m not alone in all of this and neither are you. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Well, unless you’re bent over in a back brace trying to climb the stairs.

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