1. Being skilled at something does not mean you should pursue it as a career. That’s what passion is for. Skill will develop as a by-product of passion. Passion will not develop as a by-product of skill.
2. You are going to disagree with people. People are going to disagree with you. If this is happening, there is a chance you are on the right track. So long as the person disagreeing with you isn’t your program supervisor. (Even then, you might still be on the right track. Just don’t say it to his/her face; he/she’s the boss until you successfully defend your thesis.)
3. The world will teach you so much more than a school ever will. Regardless of the prestige of the institution. So travel. As much as you can afford. Even if you pay for it out of your student loans. Even if you pay it back plus interest for a long time. You’ll get more out of four weeks of travel than you will in 2 years of academic study.
4. You will not find self-worth through others. So don’t try. If you try and find self-worth through whatever you are studying, you will be thrown under the bus by those who criticize you. Remember that despite what is said about your work that you have value beyond your rank and status as a graduate student.
5. Action speaks louder than words. If you feel you can’t ‘act’ enough in your studies, then find other ways of doing it. You will find connections you did not expect.
6. Perfectionism is the best and worst trait you can ever have. It is both a strength and a weakness. And more often it’s the latter.
7. You will never be 100% happy with your first draft. You probably won’t be 100% happy with your final draft, either. That’s the whole point. Try, try again. Revisions are a good thing, and the more in-depth your feedback is, the more your supervisor(s) believe in your work. This applies to life, too. So take joy in all you do, and try to improve yourself until the trumpets sound, because people will point out all that you do well, and will equally point out (not necessarily to your face) what you don’t do, either. This doesn’t make you a bad person; it means you are an person in-progress.
8. You need to make yourself vulnerable to grow and evolve into the person you are and will be. If growth were easy, vulnerability wouldn’t be such a feared state of being in our society.
9. If you feel like you don’t belong anywhere, so does somebody else. You have a damn good chance at making a friend when you find them. Others will follow.
10. You might find out strange things about yourself, such as discovering that you are highly introverted. This doesn’t make you aloof or cold. It means that you have a hard time taking the first step forward. But try whenever you can.