Okay, so it seems that 2014 is charging ahead like a tasered bison and – aside from my declaration of a few Resolutions for 2014 – I haven’t marked my blogging copybook much since the turn of the calendar; a glitch I intend to rectify right here.
It’s been a fairly tough few weeks, and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t know where my energy, excitement and exuberancy has disappeared to since the Xmas period, but I seem to be all out of everything right now. Perhaps it’s kind of a a void that’s opened up since I finally handed in the fruits of four years of work; a kind of anti-climax and the appearance of a complete lack of direction. I think that I expected some sort of epiphany or revelatory experience once I’d handed in The Thesis – like, as if the planets would align and my path ahead in life would suddenly be made clear and that I’d forge ahead with doing what I want to do and being what I want to be. Alarmingly though, the opposite is true: what am I supposed to do now? What’s expected of me? Who am I supposed to ‘be’ and why? Perhaps it’s simply the absence of something that’s occupied my head for four years that all those other feelings – the thoughts of insecurity, the lack of major life goals and the mountain of self-criticism – come to the fore and are no longer being shouted down by the noisier stresses that previously inhabited my brain. It’s little like emerging from a damp, dingy cave (made of Thesis-writing and headdesk) only to emerge into the sunlight to discover that it’s no warmer, dryer or less full of headdesk than where you were before; except now there’s a whole lot more of it, too.
Perhaps it was simply optimistic to think that everything would be a magical, rosy picnic once The Thesis was done, but when you’ve worked so hard on something for so long, it’s a natural feeling to feel some level of relief once it’s gone; I just thought it might last longer, that’s all. I’ve never been particularly good at embracing Change or shake-ups in life, although it must be said that I have learned how to be fairly adaptable to such change when it’s been forced upon me and to hollow out my comfortable life in whatever new regime. Right now, though, I’m in this sort of Limbo state of existence; halfway between a past life and some future one; all direction lost in the fog. The reference to Limbo (the video game) is more than just casual, since most of the inside of my brain currently feels a bit like a dark, atmospheric world that’s out to get me and I feel no more prepared for it than a nameless boy sent forth into it to seeks answers to questions that aren’t yet fully formed.
I’m more than a little aware, at the moment, of the passage of time. It seems to be rocketing by at quite a pace, and I’m becoming increasingly anxious that it won’t be too long before I’m due to be thrust out of my current job potentially into a gaping chasm of (at the moment, at least) Unemployment. I’ve been preparing a few steps towards establishing some sort of job, but haven’t really started Employment Quest™ properly in earnest; largely because I have no idea what I want to do. Sure, I guess I still have dreams, but I’ve lost a little faith in my abilities such that I’ll feel like a fraud if I tried making inroads towards them; and would be disheartened by the rejection when it inevitably came. I’m not scared of Change per se, but whilst I keep drawing a complete blank when pressed about what I’d like to do with my life it feels impossible to know where to start looking.
I suppose that’s the nub of the problem: I generally feel adrift. I’ve been happily pottering downriver in my boat, doing my best to bail out water that’s seeping through the hull and trying to avoid getting drowned in the rapids, such that now I’m in the open sea, I’ve lost all will and direction to figure out which island to visit first. Guidance about the correct path in life can only really come from within, but I’m struggling to decipher my true thoughts and feelings from amongst the deafening noises of doubt and self-criticism. There’s a general sense that I’m merely treading water in many aspects of my existence and function in my own little world; not really contributing to any firm Life Plan but simply trying to exist from one moment to the other without sabotaging my own sails or totally capsizing.
Of course, this is just a sticky patch. I’m aware that this is likely only a temporary period of feeling absolutely, truly mediocre and that I shall soon, with any luck, have my courses set for exciting destinations and rip-roaring adventures. If anything, I just need to keep trudging on through the viscous, gloopy treacle of insecurity and indecision. Perhaps, once I feel like I’m making progress with anything (from career opportunities, to actual research work, to getting my research paper[s] published, to passing my viva, to being more comfortable with myself and my appearance, to figuring out what makes me properly happy in life), all of the other pieces will start to fall into place and I’ll be able to make progress elsewhere, too. But, while I’m still feeling adrift and distant from everyone and everything, summoning the energy to start sailing anew each day is a constant struggle; followed by fresh disappointment when night-time comes and I feel no closer to dry land. A lifetime on the waves ain’t no place for a steely landlubber, and this dainty swab thinks it’s high time he found harbour.
There’s a lighthouse out there somewhere I’m sure; I just need to make sure that I don’t needlessly sail myself into the rocks before I stumble across it.