Nathanial Garrod

No More #sagradprobs

As a creator, I have learned that when one creates things, they have a habit of growing beyond the original, a habit of becoming new, of repurposing to fit the audience.

Grad school was hard, and I felt isolated, alone. I commuted an hour south for my assistantship, which meant that I did not get much time with my classmates. I was the only person in my cohort that did not get to work at the university I selected.

One day, I got in my car and looked in the back seat. It was buried with text books and books on First Generation Students, student success, student involvement, so on. Not just that, but empty Starbucks and Sonic cups I had not been able to empty from all my commuting.

Who else has a backseat full of textbooks on these specific topics and empty cups? Seems like a Student Affairs Graduate Student problem.

Not, like, an actual problem. A problem in the sense of “only a human in this oddly specific demographic would deal with.” There was never any intent of complaint – though perhaps some frustration with commuting.

Over the next few weeks, I noticed that there were several other experiences that were oddly specific to my experience as a student affairs graduate student, my experience as a commuter. I tweeted them from my own personal account with a hashtag, joking.

A couple friends suggested I make it a Twitter account.

And thus, @sagradprobs was born.

It was fun, and I enjoyed it. People started following and retweeting. Some jokes over the Thanksgiving break about explaining what SA Grad students are in school for caught a lot of attention.

I think @sagradprobs was one of my favorite parts of grad school. It gave me the strength to continue when I wanted to quit, because suddenly I was not living alone in a new town in the middle of a place I had never been. Suddenly I had friends all over the place, suddenly I was connected to people who understood my struggle.

I did not tell anyone who did not already know who I was for the first year. On my way back to my graduate institution from my internship, I visited a friend who became one of the first to know. A few friends outside of the field knew. I told my cohort, and I met a few folks at TPE/NASPA that I had interacted with under the name of @SAgradprobs.

As I continued my job search and moved towards graduation, I had no idea what to do with @sagradprobs. I thought maybe I could try to keep it going, but by November I was still searching. It was taking a lot of energy, and I already felt out of touch. I already felt out of place.

Then I saw some comments under the #sagradprobs tag, some probably well-intended comments along the lines of how absurd it is that graduate students who get free housing and tuition remission complain so much.

That was when I broke, that was when I just could not keep @sagradprobs going. Because I wanted a housing position, but ended up in a Campus Activities office. Because I was still searching for a housing position. Because I took out tens of thousands of dollars to pay rent, tens of thousands of dollars to make ends meet while I took care of upkeep for my car, bought three tanks of gas a week, ate somewhat reasonable food sometimes, and paid for textbooks.

And the straw? The straw that breaks the camels back? Complaining. I never intended @sagradprobs become a ground for simple complains. I intended a mid- or high-level conversation about the challenges student affairs graduate students face. Not “I will be in the library all weekend lol #sagradprobs.” That is not a student affairs graduate student problem. That is a graduate student problem. These are mentions and tags I made an effort to steer away from engaging.

I remember the challenges of being a graduate student. I remember the fear and stress, the anxiety, the sleepless nights and the nights you cannot do anything but sleep. I remember days I was disheveled and days I was somewhat satisfied. I remember hours of conversations with classmates and faculty. I know that lonely feeling as you shovel bland Chinese food from Panda Express into your mouth while poring over the latest journal article. I know that questioning look when you take a binder full of research to a sports bar to watch your favorite team from home play.

@SAgradprobs was the thing I could do to make a difference in the lives of others, to give other people the hope I so desperately needed every day of my career as a graduate student. We all need a little bit of hope.

I am done with @sagradprobs. I have not posted or shared content on that account since the winter. I have logged in a few times and tooled around. People still mention and tag @sagradprobs/#sagradprobs. Pretty regularly. That tells me that the torch needs to be passed.

So as summer turns into fall, I am passing @sagradprobs to a colleague and new graduate student I trust implicitly to do the right thing, a colleague I trust to be the hope and the kindness #SAgrads need, someone who can tell the jokes that can make #SAgrads smile, and someone who knows the Spiderman rule.

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This entry was posted on August 27, 2014 by in Memories, Student Affairs, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , .
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