Graduate School and Mental Health

I consider myself to be a mentally resilient person. Failures and setbacks don’t really get to me, and when they do, I bounce back reasonably fast. That said, I have to admit that grad school has significantly tested my limits. In the past four and a half years, I’ve gotten so many rejections from journals and conferences that I’ve seriously doubted my worth. It got so bad that I went to see a therapist. And it now seems like I'm not going to find a job this year, even though I applied to over 70.

That’s right. I applied to more than 70 jobs and none of them want me.

That’s a hard reality to accept. Of course I knew the job market was tough before going into the program, but I still feel incapable and hopeless. To be clear, I tried my hardest. I have never tried so hard at anything in my entire life. Moreover, I did everything I was supposed to do and then some. But it still wasn't enough.

One of the worst parts of this whole thing is that you’re competing against your friends, which creates internal emotional conflict. On the one hand, you want them to succeed, so you’re happy when they publish an article or get an interview. But, on the other hand, you want a job, so it’s simultaneously disheartening to hear their successes. It’s come to the point where I don’t want to look at their CVs, because I’m afraid of what I’ll find.

What's unfortunate is that mental health issues are not talked about enough on an official level. Perhaps it’s because people aren’t that open about their mental struggles or perhaps it’s because philosophy departments just don’t know how to deal with it. I don’t know. But I do know that I don't feel like I can discuss this topic with any professor in the department. I feel like it'd be crossing some professional boundary.

Having said all this, I don’t regret going to grad school. Despite all the hardships that I've endured, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do with my life. I love philosophy, and I really want to be a professor. So I guess I’ll just keep going, hopefully with my head up.