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The Corner Man

In boxing, the "corner man" is almost as key an element to a boxer winning the fight as is a nice upper cut or jab. He's the man that gives the boxer encouragement and often times instruction between rounds. Sometimes he's the "cut man"- putting the salve on the wounds of battle allowing you to fight another day, applying the ice packs and reducing the swelling from the pain. The corner man also tells you when to throw in the towel, when the pummeling is too much and the fight isn't fair.

In life as in boxing, you need a corner man.

Right now I am in my almost full month of PhD studies. I will admit, shit has not been easy. I got a pretty low grade on my first homework and often times I feel lost in a crowd in class. I am the only black person in my classes. Because I have to miss work to go to class, I make up those hours by extended my free days almost an extra 2 hrs (So I'm at work almost 12 hrs a day). I'm not sleeping. I eat sporadically. I am getting chubby and my slacks are telling the story to my thighs. I even got sick last week (I'm still sick actually) and missed a day of both work and class..and was thrown by it all. I feel like Dory and I keep telling myself "just keep swimming" .Above all else, when I come home....there is dead silence.

But anyway..back to what I was saying...

I thought about what Dr. Cutie (Remember him) said to me on our one and only meeting: "During this Phd, you are going to need a loving, supportive partner." Now..he could have been saying that to make me wet and get in my pants..but he was right. It's the little things, you know? *sigh*. I come home and I realize I need to clean..but I am too tired. I realize that I need to vent...or "release some tension"..and I cant. I realize I need someone to bounce ideas off of...and I just stare into space. I want to start dinner but I'm to tired to fix my plate. I want to be held and my feet instead I get the foot spa and wrap up in my down comforter.  Dishes are still in my sink from this morning. I forgot to set the DVR for my fav shows to watch later. Sometimes I just wanna take my mind off of it and take the pain away.  Sometimes I just wanna talk. Sometimes I just wanna listen. Where is my corner man?

I want to be in love. Right now the loves of my life are school, my new MacBook Pro, and my mother (not in that order of course). My uncle's church is about to pull up the rear as I am gearing up to get more involved in Church ( be fair...I'm NOT about to be one of those single women who feel like the church is my substitute for a man)

I digress...

It made me realize that I don't know if I can or will ever feel that love again. But I want to be loved and thought about and I NEED a loving, supportive  partner (besides my mother...god bless her).  I'm almost 4 weeks into school and I realize already I don't have that. That void is very real.  I have friends who have done JD, MD, MBA, Ed.D, PhD and other rigorous programs...and they said it helped to have that person by their side...their corner man. This isn't to say the "corner man" did a bunch of domestic things. Above all else, he/she was that supporter. Your number #1 cheerleader. And with school being what it is...don't expect me to find that person during school hours (my program is full of women, white women, lesbians, and nerdy white guys) or after school so that makes it tough. I'm consumed with reading and writing and staying above water. Not to mention..I had 6 good reasons last week as to why dating may not work for me. I know what you are thinking? "How you gonna say you don't want to date..but you want someone to support your efforts?" I know...I know. I never professed to be perfect. I'm flawed. On the flip side, I have a contingency of folks saying "All that's gonna do is distract you from your goals" or "you need to focus on you".... I disagree. Do I become a hermit in the name of scholarship? Or do I look for that "corner man" to help me make it through?

What's a girl scholar to do?


  1. I completely understand what you mean by having a supportive partner to make it better. my parents both had each other when they were going through their PhD programs and I know it helped to have some stability at home. On the flip side they had the responsibility of raising children too. So I wonder if those things canceled each other out. The key I think is to keep on pushing. and allow your self to lean on a friend who may not be your lover but someone who can legitimately comfort you. Keep on pushing!

  2. Initially, I wanted to share in your belief that you might need a Corner Man, but then I started thinking about my daughter and her teenaged plight concerning boyfriends vs. studies. Although you are much more mature and established, I must express the fact that "you won't really know that a dude is a distraction until you realize such." Yes, I understand the contradiction within the statement. But once you apply yourself completely in your studies ... I can't help but to believe that your true support will be obtained. In essence, you are the corner - no man makes you who you are (Mocha, you already know this...), you actually make corner men who they are. Since I believe you to be a prizefighter, I would go so far as to say that you are equipped with a fine support system. Keyword: System. Anyway, if you fail ... the corner man usually joins another fighter.

  3. Wow made me have tears stream down my face. Thank you...words can't express it so I'll just say.."Ase"

  4. Gosh, this post took my uncomfortably back to my own doctoral program days (esp. when you were talking about being too emotionally drained by the end of the day to even cook/eat/keep house). Been there, girl, and totally feeling you on that one! ((hugs))

    I can also relate to feeling alone AND lonely (the two aren't the same) during much of that time. I felt so isolated in NYC, and had a string of long-distance relationships that were hella bootleg and simply didn't work out (as you know).

    I'm not gonna lie... it was a real Blessing when Derek came along. Of course, it was in my 7th and FINAL year of the program, but we all know God delivers in HIS time and not ours. Anyway, he came right on time and I guess the rest is history.

    Soooo, I guess I'm leaning on the side of "keep looking for that corner man." (Love that analogy, btw). It really does feel good to have a supportive, loving partner - even if it's just to vent to at the end of the day.BUT I also agree with The Reasonable Bachelor, that it can be almost as great to have a good friend (esp. one who has DONE the grad school thing and truly understands) on those days when isht just gets too tough to weather alone.

    I miss your posts!!!!! Stop taking these long hiatuses, woman! lol *Like I should talk, eh?!*

  5. This was a good one. As you know, I'm back in school working on my MBA. I gotta be honest. One of the first things I said when I started this program was that since I'm not in a relationship, I'm not gonna start one. But, ya know what? A corner man(woman in my case) would be very beneficial. The key is to finding the right person and not just accepting anyone for that position. Because while someone may be a great person, they may not be able to give that support one needs while in they are in school. I have a friend who loves his wife and her goals of becoming a surgeon. But, admittingly finds it difficult to relate at to her at times.
    Ultimately, you will find that person. It will probably be in the most unlikely spot. But it will happen. So, keep doing what your doing. The pay off will be worth it.

  6. i feel you on this post 100%. the PhD process is a grueling one. i just started my 7th year of my program (cancer biology) and it doesn't get any easier. there's less course work but more hours are put in and it becomes more political. PhDs are not for the faint of heart.

    with that said, you're right. you need someone in your corner. for all the reasons you stated. on the flip side corner men can be a distraction as well. not that they mean to be but it happens. the key is finding a balance between school life and real life. as you progress through your program you will find it easier to balance.

    good post.


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