I’m picking up on probably 3/10 responses when I talk of my future plans, but it is human nature to more easily remember the negatives, and you 3/10ths are being negative as fuck.
I already know that PhD research topics change over the course of 3 years. I already know what I start out thinking is not what I’ll end up thinking. I already know it’s going to be a lot of work, and that managing everything will be a lot sometimes. I already know that it falls to me and me alone to get this shit done and over the finish line. I have literally been surrounded by friends who are doing or have done PhDs for years now, and as much as I can, I know what I’m in for.
I’ve also (obviously) decided, despite knowing all of this and more, to grab this opportunity. To do something like this (I believe) a person needs a solid lump of determination (read: sheer bloodymindedness) on their side. This means I have plans for what I want my career to look like and how I plan to get a job afterwards and all those things you’re quizzing me on. I’m well aware things can change – 5 years ago I said I’d never do a PhD, so believe me, I got it.
I guess what I’m saying here is: don’t feel morally obligated to give me a ‘sense of reality’ just yet mate, I haven’t even started the fucking thing. Let’s just let me get fired up about it for a hot minute first, huh?
Dear everyone in my life who is very well-meaning and cares about my happiness,
This will come off ungrateful, perhaps. Bear with me.
I’m waiting to hear news about the outcome of an application I made. This is the vital, huge/tiny first step to over 3 years of work ahead of me, and will be a simple email which will possibly be automated. Nonetheless, it’s the difference between doing the thing I want to do and not doing it.
The waiting is a weight. There’s no way around that – I’ve accepted I’m at the hands of a system and decision makers and that for now I can’t do anything more.
Friends, loved ones – I have done this myself and so I know it’s from this place where you want to make me feel better, but truly, telling me ‘not to worry’ or ‘you’ll be fine’ in response to me vocalising the weight of the waiting, even the frustration of the waiting, is driving me up the fucking wall.
Like so many things in life (a lesson I am learning more slowly than a person smart enough for a scholarship really should), I do not need you to faux-fix this problem, I just need you to acknowledge it exists.
If you remember this, I will try to hear ‘that must be frustrating, let me buy you a beer’ behind your well-meant platitudes – and I will do my best not to race in next time and save you from the burning building of your own frustrations.
I want to be the following things when I grow up:
- A paid writer who is wildly successful in some circles and held in high regard in others
- A musician who spends time away in a small studio in woods recording and releasing, with very little fanfare, landmark albums of significant brilliance with people who are just “friends from college” who also happen to be significantly brilliant and maybe a bit famous already
- An academic who is always working on some research that folks are waiting with baited breath to hear more about, but also finds time to guest lecture at like, Harvard and shit
- A consultant who flies in and sorts shit out for all sorts of businesses, so the truly awesome employees are given the space to change the world. Nice hotels and drinks in their lobby bars are required to pull this off. Some of the business are in Europe, some are in New York… heck, some of them are in Melbourne
- A homeowner with really good quality appliances that show the wear and tear of a life well lived, nice dogs with good manners and mostly reasonable breath, and housemates who sometimes cook me dinner but not so often that I feel guilty and pressured to reciprocate more than once a month.
That’s the dream, right? I’m only 29 so I do believe somewhere inside my optimistic brain that these things can happen.
Then some fucking 19 year old comes along and plays beautiful tunes and talks about them in her irish accent and I just think fuck it, I’ll be lucky enough to just know some people who have pulled off more than one of these things.
Thanks for such an uplifting thought on a Thursday, you asshole of a child prodigy.