I admit I have been very naïve in this respect.
I have tried so hard not to do things just because it was expected of me, and I have ended up following a trajectory that could not be more obvious. Today someone was saying how ‘pathways’ is a much more apt word to describe people’s movements and knowledge flows, because the routes of life are rarely straightforward and, more often than not, they are characterised by detours, U-turns, and other changes of direction.
Well…the pathway of my life has come to resemble very much a desert highway, I’ll tell you this much. Straight like an arrow. No detours right now for me, it seems. I thought that I really was not suited to academia; I got my degree, sure, but it was so painful, so lengthy, such a drag that I simply was not jumping for joy at the thought of doing research for life. I am not good at waffling. I am not particularly sure that what I have to say is of any interest to a room full of people. I have cold sweats every time I have to teach, at every conference, hell, every time I have to SPEAK UP. Even writing is becoming excruciating (hence the blog). So forgive me for thinking that becoming an academic was somewhat of a masochistic goal.
But today I have finally realised that despite being terrified and disheartened, I also would never be completely happy if I didn’t get to do research – to think about the stuff that makes your brain explode like popcorn (a felicitous expression copyright of Princess Pumpkin), and to get to say your two cents about it. It’s a tremendous privilege.
Being a privilege, I guess it’s only fair that so many feel kind of guilty about it -after all, my PhD candidature was a (ok, not so quick) expedient to avoid being deported, hardly the admirable feat of a determined mind. So. Me = feelings of guilt, inadequacy, being undeserving, etc etc. I considered several alternatives, which sounded all attractive, except that I could not see myself just doing that. While research – well, that allows you to do anything else you want; heck – it demands it!
So I decided to simply own it: I am CurlySquirrel, Ph.D. and researcher in the making.
[Despite being currently wedged in an admin position with little-to-none career prospects. But that’s another story].
And here I am, after months of internal dilemmas, doing exactly what I had set out to do a few years ago when I started this thing. Hence the desert highway. I surely sat by the road quite a bit and seriously considered turning back a few times or taking shortcuts, but here I am back on….