Ducks Suck.

In one of my classes last semester, the prof described a poster that hung in the graduate department where he earned his PhD. It would have looked something like this:

Why this duck has devil claws is anyone's guess.

I find myself thinking about the poster’s message a LOT, not because I think it’s inspirational, but because it irks the hell out of me. Why do I find it irksome, you ask? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you via a cathartic rant.

You know how people say that money can’t buy the important things in life? I’mma gonna go ahead and call bullsh*t on that one. I’m not saying that money can buy you true love, but it sure as frack makes living life that much easier/less-stressful, relationships included. One of my favourite internet writers wrote an excellent article on all this a while back (NSFW text), he says it better than I could here.

You can go ahead and disagree with me (that’s what the comment section is for), but after spending the past week or so realizing that 1) the funding I was counting on to get me through the rest of this semester had fallen through; 2) due to the collaborative nature of my program, the government is having a hard time agreeing to shell out the student funding I need to cover basic expenses that would prevent me from dropping out of school and, oh you know, starving; and finally 3) the people in Financial Aid now know me as the “Stress Crier.”

C'est vrai, c'est moi.

Here’s the thing: I know I’ve now got people doing their best to ensure that things work out for me financially, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel like a moron for how “un-ducklike” all this stress made me this past week, especially in regards to handling my school work. I joke about having no shame, and for the most part I don’t, but in truth I promise I’m pretty self-aware about everything I do. It’s ok if you want to laugh with me over my un-ducklike ability to make any and every situation awkward, because I think that’s funny too and I like making people laugh; it’s not ok when my un-ducky-ness somehow translates into “she fails at life.”

Why is there this constant pressure to hide the fact that life can be stressful? Why is it that when someone publicly admits that they’re struggling outside of a therapeutic context, the response is all too often one of social awkwardness instead of compassion? I’m not saying that I look forward to the day when society can undergo a communal nervous breakdown, I’m just saying that I think it’s ridiculous to feel uncomfortable or surprised someone honestly answers “not so good” to the question “how are you?”


Alls I’m saying is this: life is hard. Admitting that this is so shouldn’t make you feel like a lesser person. Just because grad school and I weren’t exactly best friends this past week doesn’t make me a bad student, or any less deserving of my place in this program than any of my colleagues. People aren’t ducks, and they shouldn’t feel the need to be in the first place.

Can I get an amen? Or not. Whatever you feel like, comment away!

About dontpanictrent

DON'T PANIC: A Trent Graduate Student Blog

6 Responses to “Ducks Suck.”

  1. I love it when people answer truthfully to the question “how are you?” It makes me feel like they can trust me and that we may converse in a meaningful way.
    In a more angry stage of my life I used to respond to that question with “you don’t really care”. But then I found that some people did care, and those are the people that I know I can still go to, at least to discuss the troubles and woes, and perhaps find a constructive solution (knowing that I generally only find destructive solutions on my own).
    Nice rant, though. Keep it up, and feel free to discuss your stresses with myself any time you’d like!

    • I completely agree that having friends you can go to when you’re not doing so hot is completely crucial to maintaining a sense of sanity, and I include those kinds of conversations in my reference to “therapeutic contexts.” It’s an especially important support system to have when you’re in an environment that can be consistently stressful, like school! I just wish there wasn’t such a stigma around admitting that you need help in the first place. Things are getting better with a growing awareness about stuff like mental health issues, but it’s still a sensitive, un-duck-ish subject. And thanks for the offer Fen, ‘preciate it 🙂

  2. I think we can all agree that “stress crying” and academia go hand in hand. I think I actually have tear stains on my keyboard from the number of times I have written till I cried (blood). Yet, I think I am kind of addicted to the stress. Yes, I admit it: I like it. So there.

  3. Amen, amen! Stigma, begone!

  4. I’m a terrible stress crier – and angry crier – no better way to lose an argument (or feel embarrassed in a kid’s school meeting…ugh…). My response to people I trust when I get ‘how are you’ is “Do you want the REAL answer or the polite answer?” because quite frankly, the answer is pretty well never ‘fine.’
    Funding woes suck. You, on the other hand, do not. 🙂

  5. Oh, stress crying. I had to walk out of the library with my sunglasses on the other day. That was a new low. “Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming…” Love this post!

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