4th Year Psych

Managing stress with exercise

Week 6 of 12 – Halfway through the second semester of psych honours.

Since rejoining the gym, I feel like my stress levels have been pretty low/consistent this semester.  I’m still having moments where it feels like things are falling apart, but I haven’t been too unhappy.  This week in particular is tough, my mother’s in hospital, and although we aren’t very close it’s still quite upsetting.  I also have a big work event coming up, I’m facilitating a strategy day for 40 people, and as an introvert, I’m always a little anxious in the lead up to these things.  On top of that, I have precisely 4 weeks to finish the thesis. And… I really should be thinking about applying for Masters.

But it’s true what they say, endorphins are addictive, and as long as I get my daily dose, it feels like everything is manageable.

My mum is going to be okay.  A last minute trip to India led to her getting malaria, which didn’t get picked up for weeks, but she’s getting the right medication and care now and is going to be okay.

The strategy day will be fine.  I know these people, I know my stuff, it’ll be fine.

The thesis is on track.  Yes I’m struggling a bit with the data analysis, but my supervisor seems happy with my progress, so it’s all good.

Masters.  Hmm.  That’s definitely a source of stress.  So the way psychology works in Australia is that after 4 years, you have to do another two years in one of the following ways in order to be a registered psychologist:

  1. 2 years full-time Masters (with thesis)
    1. Extremely competitive entry
    2. Only a few streams are available in Vic: clinical, organisational, educational, forensic, that might be it?
  2. 1 year full-time Master of Professional Psychology (no thesis) plus 1 year of supervised work
  3. 2 years of supervised work
  4. PhD and/or Masters and PhD combined

I’ve definitely ruled out option 4 – yes I enjoy research, but no I don’t want to end up in research.  I like the practical, applied side of psychology.  The bit where I get to work directly with people and make an immediate difference to their lives.

Option 3 is also out of the question, as the registration requirements are so strict that it’s almost impossible to do this.  Anyway, I like learning too much, I don’t want to start working directly with people without more training.

Right now, I’m trying to decide between option 1 and 2.

Option 1

Pros: Great work experience in large organisations, may be able to pursue a career in org psych at my current workplace, long term prospects to work in defence (which has always been an interest of mine), this stream allows you to specialise i.e. get additional training and supervision in the stream you choose, so in my case that would be org psych

Cons: They only take 16 students per year in Victoria.  2 more years.  My god.  And another thesis. 😦

Option 2

Pros: Practical experience counselling people, this would mean I finally get to do some one on one work, only one more year of studying, no thesis!

Cons: At the end of this route, you can’t specialise in a specific psych stream.  If I ever want to specialise in my life, I would have to go and do a 2 year masters.

So…I have no idea what I’ll be doing next year.  Applications close in approx. 1 month, so in the meantime, I need to apply for Masters of Org Psych, and Masters of Professional Psych and see what happens.

Did I mention I hate uncertainty? I think that’s why I’m so grateful for the gym.  Even when work and uni are stressful and unpredictable, I can do my workouts like clockwork.  Same classes, same time each week, and I’m in control.

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Life goes on

I have survived an entire semester of Psych Honours, woo! With (some) of my sanity intact.

Last semester was exhausting.  The workload was intense.  I missed most family events, skipped all work socialising, didn’t see my friends, cancelled the gym membership and basically lived the life of a hermit.  Fast forward to midyear, and I’m over it, I can’t live my life like that again.  Yes, grades were good, but I don’t think it’s worth my sanity.  So I’ve made the decision to not apply for masters next year, and it feels liberating.  Even this semester, I’m increasing my hours at work and have rejoined the gym, because all work and no play makes Jhil go cray cray.

The midyear break has been fantastic though, I’ve started to live my life again.  Highlights include:

Batman: The Killing Joke – took my husband to see this as an early anniversary surprise and we loved it.  Aside from the bizarre Batgirl plot (wtf?!), it was exactly what I hoped for – dark, complex, and a little bit ambiguous.

The Cure – this band got me through teenage angst, and I’d never seen them live, so this was a big deal.  The gig itself was incredible, ran for 3 hours and had about 5 encores.  Robert Smith still sounds amazing, and I was transported back to the 80s.

Lots of binge watching Netflix/TV

  • Stranger Things – LOVE! Can’t recommend enough.  80’s nostalgia ❤
  • Marcella – I love a messed up female protagonist who still manages to kick arse
  • Game of Thrones – FINALLY found the time to watch it, had read the books previously though

However, all good things must come to an end, and classes resume today.  Here’s hoping I can balance my life a little better this semester.

3 months can make a difference

The last 3 months have been emotionally taxing.

I finished my final exams and felt some sadness at having to leave this university.  Unfortunately, they only offer psychology honours 2.5 hours away from where I live, so studying there wasn’t viable.  But that said, I wasn’t guaranteed to be offered honours anywhere else, so I was quietly worried that I’d have to accept an offer from RMIT and either commute massively each day or move houses.

On top of this, I was burnt out from studying all year without a break (studied overseas midyear).  I managed to have 2 full days off work where I lounged around and played Fallout 4 to my hearts content.  This brief bout of lazy happiness ended, and I increased my work hours to full-time.

 

Soon after,  I was offered a secondment in what seemed like a normal role, but I eventually realised it was much more difficult than I expected.  I was leading a team who appeared to be fully functioning and well skilled, however it turned out that they had just passed through the forming-storming phases, and were yet to norm.  These meant many issues, technical errors, and arguments about the best way to do thing.  3 months later, this role has come to an end, and I’m hopeful that I’ve helped them transition and left them in a stronger position then when I began.

During this time, I also graduated.  I can’t describe the joy I felt from receiving the certificate and celebrating with loved ones.  After going through high school imagining I was dumb, hearing similar comments from my mother, it was a huge relief to have that piece of paper that proves otherwise.  I received my final results soon after, and although they weren’t as great as I would have liked, they weren’t bad at all.

Then the worrying began.  Were my results good enough to get into honours? Each university only takes in approx 20-60 honours students, so it’s incredibly competitive.  I began to doubt my own abilities, and when I received the offer from RMIT I immediately accepted.  Then the other offers started to come in, and instead of it being a relief, it actually became a lot harder to decide what to do.  The first offer that came through was from a lesser institution, so I declined.  The third offer was also a less credible institution, however I accepted, to ensure I wouldn’t commute 2.5 hrs each way each day.  More offers, more changes.  It was exhausting.  It was only in the last fortnight that I finally received an offer that ticked all the boxes – credible institute and decent location (45 min travel time) but I was still hesitant to cancel all other offers because the next hurdle had to be surmounted.

Getting the right supervisor is tough at the best of times, and it requires students to really put themselves out there.  You have to somehow figure out what you’re interested in (hard when undergrad only gives a shallow understanding of many topics, with no opportunity to get in-depth with anything), find supervisors at the uni you’ve been accepted into who not only match your interests but are also experienced, well qualified, and can give you the support you need, and then convince them that they should supervise you for the next 12 months.  It was even harder for me, because by accepting this offer late in the process, I had very limited options of available supervisors.

Somehow it all worked out in the end.  Earlier this week I met with 2 supervisors who sounded great, and in person, one clearly stood out as having a similar work ethic as myself.  The relief I felt when she confirmed that she would be happy to supervise me was MASSIVE.

 

Now the next part of this journey begins.  I’ve heard that honours year in psych is quite literally the worst year of most people’s lives.  Worse than undergrad, masters, PhD.  Apparently I should expect ~3 hours sleep at night and zero social life.

With it starting in less than 2 weeks, I’m now hoping to manage people’s expectations.  I’ve reduced my work hours even more, warned family I might not see them weekly anymore, and now I need to break the news to my friends that I’m probably not going to be around this year.  Other than that, I’m trying to do all of my favourite things.  Socialising, cooking, video games, vegging on the couch, gym.

I imagine this will be a year for a lot of sacrifice.  Hopefully I survive with my sanity intact.