Dealing with the loss of a friend or family member can be emotionally trying. Many of us are familiar with five distinct stages of grief that we might endure as we process the incomprehensible anguish of losing someone close to us. What I learned recently is that these five stages also parallel with preparing to take the nerve-wracking graduate records examination.
1. Denial: Perhaps you opted out of going to grad school immediately after finishing college. You thought you would see what was available to someone with a degree in political science or flute (and yes, I really know a girl who majored in flute). As you go through this first year, you experience a lot of denial. “Mom, for the thousandth time, more school is not going to improve my job situation,” you say as you apply for yet another part-time job. Psychcentral.com says, “this is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.”
2. Anger: Psychcentral.com goes on to say, “As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready.” As a postgrad, this means you have accepted that, even if grad school does not increase your professional stock, it at least postpones having to find a real job for another two years. And hey, maybe your parents will help out with school and other expenses (beer). You realize all this and you get a GRE practice book, but you’re not yet ready to commit to studying. Your boyfriend may try to gently coax you into studying, saying, “Hey, babe, try it for 30 minutes.” Just try to make sure the object you throw at him in response, is somewhat soft.
3. Bargaining: Psychcentral.com also says, “Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable.” Deadlines for grad school applications are quickly approaching, and you’ve yet to sign up to take the GRE. I signed up for the dreaded test only a week in advance, and with such sort prep time, it’s important to find the right balance between praying and cramming.
4. Depression: “Sometimes all we really need is a hug,” the psychology website continues to say. As you type in “What is algebra?” in the Google search bar and BOOBS in your calculator, you begin to realize the insurmountable odds of you actually getting the score you need on the GRE. You sink down into the depths of despair as you begin to visualize a lifetime of balancing eight part-time jobs.
5. Acceptance: “This is not a period of happiness,” says psychcentral.com. But at least it’s almost over. You will walk into that test center, go through more rigorous security than TSA, and spend four hours staring at a computer. You may not remember every math formula, but you will recall every curse word known to mankind and mutter it in your head as you struggle to recall hazy facts and figures from the six total hours you devoted to studying. Since the test is taken on a computer, you will find out your scores immediately after finishing, so you will walk out of that room feeling either triumphant or stages two and four, again.