PhD · Reflection

Crossroads

July has come and gone, and now August is almost done and dusted. Here in London it seems as if our three days of summer are over and autumn is already on its way.

I’ve talked before about finally finishing and submitting my PhD dissertation at the end of June, but now I’m in the midst of that strange 3-month limbo between submission and the viva/defence. I’ve been catching up on some TV shows and novels, and my part-time job is fairly intense, so I’m still keeping busy. I’ve also been getting back into writing, which feels fantastic, but I haven’t quite found my stride and gotten into a writing routine yet.

2016-07-18 21.36.43

In my breaks at work I’ve been plotting out the sequel to HONORS, and a new stand-alone historical (all on scraps of paper so, I probably look like a crazy person….but oh well!). And even that, the simple act of recording thoughts and ideas and plot points, has been invigorating. But then once I get home, I’m exhausted and hungry and just want to relax, so not much writing gets done. I’m struggling with discipline right now, but I think this struggle might be tied to something larger. Something that’s been nagging at the back of my mind for at least a year now.

That something is, basically, what in the sweet holy heck do I want to do with my life now?

Ok that’s a huge question that can’t be answered in a single blog-post (and apologies for the stream-of-consciousness brain-dump happening right now). Let’s break that down further, into two questions that are connected yet slightly at odds with one another:

  1. What’s the next logical step I SHOULD take?
  2. What do I WANT to do?

The first question ties into what I mentioned in my previous post, about that dreaded word ‘should’ and how much I loathe it. The word ‘should’ carries so many connotations and expectations with it, and frankly, I’m tired of that crap. My whole life, I’ve tried to be practical, to have the next several years planned out, to always know where I was headed next. And yet, right now? Now that I’ve finished the PhD, a massive, years-long project and life goal of mine?……..I have no fricking clue what I’m doing next.

And that scares me.

I know it’s normal for recent graduates to have no idea, and to shrug and say ‘Find a job’ when people ask what they’re doing next. So I guess I’m at that stage too, except this is grad school I’m finishing, not undergrad. And I feel as if I should have a more concrete plan. Like, I SHOULD apply for post-doc positions. But do I WANT to? I’m not really sure.

This whole existential question of what I want to do has been messing with me lately. I feel like I can’t enjoy the simple things in life because I’m constantly worrying about money and rent and food; about job postings I’ve missed out on; or if a position is even going to pay enough or be worth the trouble/commute/travel costs should I actually get it; or if I should or shouldn’t apply to something when the chances of me getting it are practically zero, and therefore applying for it will most likely be a waste of time. My anxiety has been through the roof again lately, and while I used to  write to escape all the stress of real life, now I can’t seem to write like I used to. (Which also adds to the stress…)

So, all of this is to say, essentially:

Hedgehog I have no idea

And it feels like I’m at a crossroads in life, one of those moments where the next decision I make isn’t necessarily going to be a happy one, and will have consequences for the rest of my life. So, y’know, no big deal.

This was a long, ranty-pants post with more than its fair share of whining, and no real point to it, except I wanted to vent a lil’ bit. So thanks for ‘listening’ if you’ve made it this far. My next post will have reviews of some books I’ve read lately, and some TV shows and music too.

~M

 

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