In recent comments, folks visiting this blog have talked about that feeling of being in a "larvae stage" in graduate school. If I understand the commenters correctly, the larvae stage of one's life can be associated with frequently saying to oneself, "When I grow up, I will..." When I was in undergraduate school, I suffered from this larvae stage rather significantly, for I mistook life changes that proceeded the larvae stage with the simple obligations one has for living one's life.
This mistake manifested itself most in my health. In undergrad, I was always putting health-related duties off until graduation. "I'll lose all this weight when I have time, after I graduate." "I'll join a gym and exercise 4 times a week, after I graduate." "I'll go to the dentist when I have a real job and real benefits, after I graduate." As you might imagine, one year after I graduated, I weighed over 200 pounds and I had cavities.
Throughout my years of working as an engineer, and my initial years of graduate school, I still had lapses where I mistook life changes with living life. My second year of graduate school was an exercise in self-torture, allowing everything but my research to go to absolute hell. By third year, I was back to weighing over 200 pounds and I was crying every day. Fast-forward to this year. I swim three times a week, I bike when it's warm, and now that winter is almost here, I'm taking a weekly yoga class. I recently finished a 10 month stint in therapy in which I re-located my spine, and thus my ability to stand up to asshole professors. I'm published in my thesis topic. My romantic relationship is healthy. I still haven't gone to the dentist, but I realize--thanks in part to the commenters--that I've shed the little cocoon I used to live in.
I am larvae no more.
Rather, I am an adult who must balance her adult responsibilities to be a healthy, happy, and productive human being. I still have those days when I go home crying, but I make choices that can quickly bring me back to center, rather than wallow in self-pity. As for the big life changes, they are still on the horizon, but I cannot mistake those transitions for day-to-day living.
Now, if I could just get a decent paycheck.