The Glow Up: Understanding the Scholarly Evolution of Self

Photo:  AdobeStock

Photo: AdobeStock


I was told and I believed that I was a hot toasted mess, before I became “ACI, The Doctoral Student.” I was the kid in high school and in my early undergraduate years who questioned authority, challenged my peers, and struggled to find meaning in academic curriculum. Flash forward to eight years later, and now I operate in a sphere that approves of questioning authority, challenging my peers, and thinking critically as to why our ways of knowing are the way in which they are.


Hence, in the minds of almost everyone who knew me before I became a Doctoral Student, would have believe that I experienced this epic come up or “glow up.” But in reality, I have always been dope! Therefore, as I continue to evolve as a scholar, it is important to reflect upon the evolution of self. There have been times in which I struggled to grasp that the present day me is the same me that was labeled “misbehaved,” “unqualified,” “classroom distraction,” and my favorite “NATAS” (Satan spelled backwards). I know, people got some nerve, huh?


But how do you handle being transformed in the eyes of others? How do you handle evolving throughout your Graduate School journey?


Y’all, if I’m being honest it’s hella uncomfortable. I walk, talk, think, reflect, assess, and navigate life differently. This blog post is not about “Oh my goodness Graduate School changes you.” It’s about the evolution of self that occurs during Graduate School. I am still me, but in a way, I am not. My epistemological (nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief) lens has become morphed, enhanced, and questioned due to the nature of Graduate School. Now, this is not bad, it’s simply just real.


As you and I evolve, it is going to be slightly uncomfortable, because our knowledge and ways of knowing are becoming shooketh. People will say “ACI you’ve changed.” I respond with a smirk resembling Tommy from Power, like “Naw, I’ve evolved.” Evolving does not mean we completely disconnect from our former social circles and activities, it means reflecting on the evolution of self and remembering what aspects of you have always been embedded within your present-day self, that have always made you or prepared you to become…


“_________, The Dope Graduate Student”.


SOOOO did I glow up? Yes, BUT not because I am a Doctoral Student. I experienced a glow up because I operate in a realm in which my skill set that was once interpreted as “bad behavior” is now labeled as “critical thinking,” “layered analysis,” and “great depth and insight.” Hence, my “Glow Up,” is rooted in my ability to remain true to myself and find belonging in a realm in which questioning authority is not only valued but praised. It’s ok to evolve my friends, but never forget the nuances of self that make you the scholar that you are and were always destined to be.


About the Author

ACI is a 2nd year Doctoral student researching the intersections of higher education, collegiate athletics, and identity development. ACI enjoys engaging in pubic sociology and demonstrating the ways in which the realm of sport serves as a microcosm of our society. ACI lives by the mantra, “Never become satisfied, jumping over low bars.”

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