"If" – graduate student edition

May 5, 2010 by Jen

If – for Grad Students*

If you can keep your mind when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust your laptop with the I.T.,
But make allowance for a virus too;
If you can live sans sleep and keep your eyes from drooping,
Or, after three espresso, write your name,
Or, asked “how goes it?”, don’t give way to weeping,
And yet don’t look too crazed, nor talk too wild;

If you can chat – and not make Google master;
If you can think – and not make sense your aim;
If you can meet with “perfect” and “nice effort”
And treat the “but” that follows just the same;
If you can bear to read the words you’d written
After the three Red Bulls first hit your brain,
Or watch the drafts you gave your life to vanish,
And scream and hit restart and write again;

If you can make one heap of all your savings
And risk it on another stretch of school,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and hand and brain cells
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Deadline saying: “Git ‘er done”;

If you can talk with crowds whose grammar pains you,
Or read Bhabha – nor lose the common speech;
If neither B’s nor minuses can hurt you;
If all steps count for you in metered rhyth’m;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of papers writ –
Yours is the book and everything that’s in it,
And – no more – you’ll be a graduate my friend!

*Props to Rudyard Kipling for the original.

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