The lady and the grad
How a dog can help you push through the loneliness of a PhD
It all started in the warm month of May, with a raging pandemic and a lonely heart. My roommate Sandy had gone home and wouldn’t come back until the fall, and I was losing my mind going in circles in the apartment. I had been wanting a dog. I had always loved dogs. The things stopping me from committing were Thursday late-night socials, and my boyfriend’s roommate, Mike, who would never agree to a four-legged animal in his living room. But social distancing destroyed all evening fun activities, and September was just around the corner, which meant that Mike was moving out. So, if not now, then when? I WANT A DOG!
But my roommate, Sandy, still said no.
From then on, the year 2020 became that much harder for me. I identify myself as an antisocial extrovert. This means that I only value interactions with others if they are meaningful and will lead to future connections (talking to strangers at a party that I will never see again seems useless to me), but I also feel incredibly lonely if I am not interacting with others on a regular basis. Having not founded true friendships with anyone in my lab yet, I have felt alone for most of my days as a grad student. Even though surrounded by people in the office, at social events, conferences and other gatherings, I find myself isolated. My thought process is that if I were to disappear there and then, it would not make a difference to anyone in the room.
Fall eventually rolled around, my roommate Sandy was back, MIT life was slightly improved from the summer, and the apartment was returning to a livable temperature. I’d finally made up my mind and I decided I would move out as soon as possible and get a dog to call my own. With this “ultimatum” and pictures of extremely cute fluffers, Sandy changed her mind. I could finally get a pet!
I applied to rescues and shelters for adoptions with the same persistence as if looking for a job post-graduation. Two weeks later, I was driving to Connecticut to meet and bring home my girl. There she was, the brown one with the white sleeve. She was playing with the other dogs of the dog park. Oh, how much cuter she was in person! I gave her treats and pets, and she clearly didn’t care. But I fell for her anyways, and 10 minutes later she was in the car, heading to her furever home.
Share this post: