Hi all. It’s been a while.
I keep thinking that perhaps one day, I’ll see the end of it. One day I’ll stop saying ‘next year, things should be less frantic’, and I’ll actually be able to sit down and relax. This day hasn’t come yet. Next year is going to be just like the past four: insanely busy, and stressful, and possibly for nothing.
I expected this, mostly, so it’s not a crushing disappointment: I got no job in France and I have to go back to Québec for another year. It’s not that I’m unhappy about that. I quite like it there. But it takes a special kind of bravery to go full expat, and I’m not sure I have it. Admittedly, putting an ocean and six time zones between me and my boyfriend does little to help—a fact that my family, in their well-meaning efforts to cheer me up, seem to blissfully ignore, bless their hearts and all.
It’s not like it’s going to make that much of a difference, it being Québec rather than Thailand or Mars, because I’m going to spend most of my time in the lab anyway. Well, at least people will be pleasant on the rare occasions when I’m outside and not at work. And possibly this time I’ll get to spend more time in France, so there’s that as well. I’m not complaining, far from it. I was very lucky to get this job, and a career in academia takes what it takes. ‘What it takes’ includes 60-hours weeks, permanent uncertainty about the future, being very far away from home and having no idea if it will even pay off one day. Well.
It’s a little hard not to feel the slightest hint of bitterness, however, seeing as I came very close to getting a job in spite of my mediocre PhD. How do you keep yourself from thinking that with an actual PhD supervisor who would have done his job instead of not answering e-mails, not reading my dissertation and letting me grope around in the dark for four years, I might have made it? But it’s too late to worry about that now. The time to give up was three years ago, when I started to realise that said supervisor was an incompetent prick who would rather eat crushed glass than lift a finger to help me get anywhere, and when the 10-hours days, seven days a week first started to weight down on my private life. I didn’t give up then (another sort of bravery I don’t have, I suppose), and it’s too late now. I can’t have done all of this for nothing.
There are two things in life I’m actually good at: pretending I’m better at stuff than I really am, and not giving up. So I’ll keep doing what I’m good at.
You know that feeling when you’re walking up a long slope, and you can see the top all the way, but when you get closer to it, you realise that it was just a bump, and the real top is actually miles further? Right, now do you know that feeling when it’s the fourth or fifth time it happens?
I’ll keep going. Maybe I’ll get a job next year. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have to adjust to the reality that there is no place for me in the career I’ve chosen and I’ll take it hard, and maybe I won’t. Maybe one day I’ll have time to relax, to write and to play my piano and to peacefully accept those are not things I’ll ever be truly successful at, and maybe there will always be something I haven’t foreseen, and I’ll keep treading on and thinking about the future, and I’ll be moderately satisfied or maybe I’ll just get depressed and stop trying.
I don’t know. I’m not sure I even care anymore. I feel like a robot right now.