Defining Intense

“Over the moon,” is how I would describe my state of mind about the first couple of months at HGSE. “Perpetual state of fatigue,” is also accurate. Pre-HGSE, I was out in the real world for oh, many, many (ok, fifteen) years. I thought I was busy as I worked long hours running a small business, was active in my community as curator for TEDxSantaMonica, went to networking events on Thursday nights, did yoga three times a week, played tennis on weekends, watched Grey’s Anatomy faithfully, and slept from 10pm-6am. But, now that I’m at Harvard, I realize that I’ve actually been on vacation my whole life.

Last year’s students tried to warn me. “It’s intense,” they said. I thought they meant the winters. I didn’t realize they meant everything! The papers, the readings, the research, the extra-curriculars, the pub outings, the conversations, the networking events, the professor’s resumes…  all of it can only be described by one word: intense! Even sleep is intense. A snapshot of my sleep schedule this past week serves as a prime example: Monday, 4 hours, Tuesday, 3.5 hours and Wednesday, 2 hours. Ok, granted it is the middle of midterms, but isn’t it a bit nuts that I slept more on the plane today heading to San Francisco for my Stanford reunion than I slept in my bed any one night this week??  Yup. I’m no longer that person who turned the lights out at 10pm, I’ve become someone who takes “a nap” from 8pm-midnight and then resumes studying until 4 am.

Why do I do it? (Why does everyone do it?) One simple reason. Back in April for admit weekend, after attending numerous welcome events, panels, and mixers, I remember coming to a realization about this place: the impossible happens at Harvard. If your dreams are going to come true anywhere, it’s going to be here. And there are endless communities, resources and faculty with profound experience that can help make your goals materialize. And knowing this and feeling this and seeing this makes you step it up. You go without sleep, exercise, Grey’s Anatomy, facials or clean laundry because you’re on a mission. And you have 9 months for mission impossible to become mission accomplished.

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But, this is not to say that it’s all work and no play. Thankfully, I lucked out with the two of the most amazing football loving HGSE roommates anyone could ever wish for. This means retreating from the library to my Harvard Housing apartment provides a haven of comic relief, insightful conversations, home cooked dinners, wine celebrations (“to us,” “to us at Harvard” “to John Harvard”), movie nights, and late, late, late night commiseration over papers. Having a decompression system is the key to balancing the intensity. (If I had the time and energy to workout- that would help too.) When I do take a break (from homework, student organizations, receptions, student government, performances, and forums) long enough to inhale deeply and listen carefully, something magical happens: I can hear shrieks of  “OMG I’m at Harvard” reverberate around campus.

Month 2 = tired + happy + frazzled + exhilarated + excited + grateful + a tad of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

Felicia Kamriani is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Arts in Education program. Having been a commercial actress and educator, Felicia is interested in identity formation and how art can facilitate that process.