Setting Boundaries in Grad School

I have recently started to prioritize boundary setting in my life – both in and outside of my degree. These boundaries started partly because I am learning to trust and care about myself more. But it is also due to the fact that I never thought I had the power to set boundaries. I never was in a situation to say no to opportunities (still not) and I felt like I was never doing enough academically (still do). All of this changed when I started to put myself first and push back on the demands of academia. Read more below to find out what I have learned about boundary setting.

1. Boundaries are a good thing 

The word ‘boundary’ has a negative connotation to it. As if there is something stopping you, like a wall, of achieving something. However, boundaries can be a good thing. I see boundaries as a connecting point, rather than a wall. By setting boundaries, I am able to bring my best self to the table and connect with those more presently when I have the opportunity.

2. Boundaries are personal

Boundaries will look different for everyone. You may start realizing you need to set boundaries when you are feeling emotions of anger, stress or resentment to a situation. This is a good indicator that you should have created a boundary and a good lesson for the future. Depending on personal goals and personality traits, these situations will look different for everyone and they may even change for yourself over time.

3. Boundaries are not easy

I am a people pleaser, so when someone asks me to do something, I almost always feel like I have to say yes. But saying no is an option too. When I started to set boundaries I felt conflicted. On one hand I was proud of putting myself first. On the other hand, I felt an immense amount of guilt and felt like I was letting other people down. People also are used to a sense of predicability and when you start to switch things up on them, it can disrupt their own schedules. Setting boundaries can be helpful but they aren’t always easy.

4. Communicating your boundaries are helpful but not essential

Clearly and respectfully communicating your boundaries to others can be helpful so they understand your actions. If you suddenly decide to not take phone calls after a certain time of the day, you may want to inform those you typically talk to about why you are setting this boundary. Communication can help, however it is not owed to anyone and if you want to keep that information private, that is okay too.

5. We teach people how to treat us 

Do you respond to your e-mail as soon as you receive something new in your inbox? It is interesting to become aware of how yourself and others respond to e-mails. If you respond right away, then people learn this response  and expect that from you. Start to reflect on how you are teaching others to treat you and how you can create boundaries in your life to better reflect your own needs.

My experience with boundary setting has been a contradictory. I feel empowered to make decisions regarding my own life – and stick to them. But I also feel a lot of guilt and sometimes as if I am missing out on something. I hear this gets easier over time…. I am still waiting for that day.

What is your experience with setting boundaries?

Comment below!

Until next time,

Christine xo

P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.

P.P.S Applying to grad school for the 2020/21 school year? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application. Are you in grad school and struggling to find easy lunches to bring to campus? Check out three FREE recipes and full nutritional information here.

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