Life as an Extreme Sport

moments of zen

I am having a Monday. They’re rather traditional around here, but that doesn’t really make them any easier to get through.

I’ve been doubting lately. Doubting, a lot, that I’m on the right path, doing the right thing. It’s harder than I thought it would be, starting over in a new place, in a new field. I feel so behind, and like nothing I do will catch me up. All the work I did, the effort, all the long and hard hours; it got me here – but I don’t know that it’s enough to keep me here.

The odd thing is, it’s not because of the test I got back today – I knew I was going to do poorly on it, and I was okay with that. I have to give myself some room here, and I know it; I’ve not taken a test in years, I’ve never taken a test with this prof, and I didn’t know how the test would be structured – and I find it near-impossible to study without knowing the basic style of the prof. The lowest test score is tossed, so it’s not like I did anything bad. But I think the prof was distressed, and that combined with everything else…

I’ve not talked about it here, because I don’t feel like it’s proper to discuss, or really my place, but there have been some drastic changes happening with the dual degree program I’m in, and just exactly where all the cards are going to fall is still unknown. So I moved across the country for something that is no longer a set thing. My PhD is still there, but I didn’t come here for a PhD in Philosophy – I came here for a dual degree, for continuing with bioethics, and getting that experience. And people are still working with me on it, and I’ve been assured and reassured that I will be taken care of, and I have no reason at all to question or doubt it, but it’s stressful. My nails? Gone – and I’d done so well, not biting them for almost a year. I consider that, more than anything, an indication of how stressed I’ve been.

On top of that, I feel isolated. My program is mostly men, and they’ve clumped together and are doing things together. They hang out, they’ve developed in jokes – the one’s starting with me integrating in with the older students. There are a couple of women, more than I was expecting, but of the four others, two have children and the other two have long term boyfriends. They’ve lives outside school, and don’t hang out as much as the guys do. So in a lot of ways, it’s just me and the boys, and I apparently have cooties. I was warned about this a long time ago – academia is still male. We’ve got three female teachers in the department; one’s my adviser, and she’s already acknowledged that the gender imbalance makes life hard. And it does.

I spent the morning doing email, leading me to the conclusion that writing email stresses me out to an insanely inappropriate degree, but I’m always concerned my tone won’t come across properly. I’ve one prof worrying about me, and another that I seem to be able to speak the language of, but he doesn’t speak mine.

And yet there are bright spots. Emilie’s email made me smile; I seem to have picked up a couple of readers from a blog I quite admire, and have been reading since its inception. And I find things like this, and realize that those are the small moments that make life living, where the magic escapes the imagination and flows into the world.

I know it was just a rough day, with a lot of things piling onto one another. I know this, but I still doubt. What if there’s a better way for me to get to my goal? Is this really the right path? Or should I be taking another route – it’s not like this is the only one. This is the only one, though, with the opportunities presented. It’s not that I doubt myself, I know I can do what I want to do. I shine when you put me into anything involving bioethics. It’s the rest that’s in question.

Winston Churchill said that if you’re going through hell, keep going.

I don’t mean to complain, or make life sound bad. I’m so grateful to the people who’ve supported me so far, taken time out to answer my emails, or go to lunch with me, or to contact me via the web form and give encouraging words. But I just feel this huge weight on my shoulders, and the moments of magic are fleeting. It makes them special and cherished – but I could use a little more of it in my day to day life.

One comment

  1. If you love it and you shine while doing it, don’t let it go! Nothing else matters.

    I think Mr. Churchill may have been right if he meant (as I suspect he did) that you will gain and grow from this, and sometimes the only way to get out of hell is to go through it.

    At least that’s what I kept telling myself to get through my Ph.D.

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