I am often asked by students: what does it take to succeed (code: finish!) in graduate school? Of course there are many qualities that successful students share: enthusiasm, creativity, work ethic, a killer research project, a good advisor, etc. But the one virtue I recommend that students develop above all is the ability to work through discouragement. Graduate work, for all of its wonders, is one of the most disheartening, lonely endeavors that you will ever undertake. Of course, it will also be one of the most extraordinary, revelatory adventures of your life. I don’t think a single Ph.D. would disagree with me when I tell you that you are going to have to slog through hours, days, weeks, months, or even years of gloom in pursuit of the prize. You will feel discouraged – a lot (code: most!) of the time.
But trust me, the moments of illumination that you will receive as a result of your labors will be glorious. It just takes perseverance.
So, for those of you about to rock grad school, I salute you.
For those of you already in the depths of graduate despair, it won't last forever!
To all of you, I submit this lovely piece of encouragement by Ira Glass on the rewards awaiting those who work through the gloom.