Why I'm Here

I can't remember exactly when I decided that I wanted to go to grad school. I believe it was sometime during my sophomore or junior year of college. I think it started out as this romanticised idea of what it would mean to be an academic and I would day dream of what students would one day call me (Taylan? Prof. Stulting? Dr. Stulting? Dr. Taylan? Dr. T?). But then I took on my first independent research project (shout out to Jen Silva for advising me!) and I realised that this is what I loved. But I also realised that it's not an sexy as I was imaging. Regardless, my love for research and learning about the unknown continued to evolve throughout my senior year while conducting my honours thesis and I was ecstatic to start my graduate studies so I could continue developing my skills and new-found passion.

I'm finally here, in graduate school, in England, having just finished my second week of classes. I love it so far. I'm enthralled by my readings, engaged by the discussions I have inside and outside of class, and spend my bus rides to and from campus brainstorming research ideas. As much as I do love it, it's exhausting. Not only in-terms of work-load, but in terms of content. It's a Master's in Gender, Violence and Conflict, it's to be expected that the topics we cover are going to be heavy. It's still early, and we haven't gotten to the really intense stuff yet, but I know it's coming. For example, earlier in the week I was skimming through the reading list for my Human Rights and Politics of Culture module and there's a section on child soldiers. That's going to be tough.

I didn't pick this program because it was going to be easy. I picked it because I felt it was important and I knew that it would give me the tools I needed to do the kind of research I'm interested in. I did it because I have a personal investment in what I'm studying. Being openly queer and trans isn't exactly a walk in the park. Partner that with a history of sexual violence, depression and anxiety, life sometimes feels completely overwhelming. But I've learned to muddle through and somewhere along the way, it stopped feeling like constant coping and started feeling like I was actually happy and thriving. Being in a stable place in my life is what's allowed me to pursue a program as intense as Gender, Violence and Conflict. 

I'm not writing this to make any kind of statement about mental health or anything. I'm mostly writing this for myself as a reminder of why I'm doing this and that even when the going gets tough, I can make it through. It may not be pretty, it may not be easy, and it may not be everything I imaged but I can make it through.