It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, and I suppose I owe an explanation on why. I moved back to my university after my internship got over. So I’m back to Iowa and life has been very different ever since I landed here.
Towards the end of my internship, I started experiencing, what one could call, a mid-PhD crisis. When you start questioning the goodness and value of your PhD. Before I had come here, I had set a few goals for myself and I was quite successful in accomplishing them. Which meant that I, for once, had run out of my only motivation for trying so hard. I didn’t feel like a loser any more. I couldn’t feed on my insecurities any more.
Let me tell you what 25 years of feeling like a loser, followed by 25 weeks of not feeling like one, feels like; it’s definitely more complicated than what this sentence sounds like, for starters.
At first, I felt that I was capable of accomplishing whatever I wanted. That I could get whatever I wanted. But after I got most of what I had wanted, I just felt empty. Now what? I needed to set new goals for myself, sure. But honestly, so far, I have just about done what the society has asked me to do; mainly what my parents expected of me and what my advisor advised me to.
Then, I started feeling that my life lacks direction. I felt a void. The way I chose to fill the void was to do things that I had held back from doing. For instance, I bought a TV. I bought a couch. I decorated my new apartment. Didn’t work. I went out, tried to distract myself. Drank, smoked up for the first time, went to different cities and met up with people I hadn’t spoken to for ages. Still didn’t work. These activities were distracting enough, in the moment, but I kept feeling lost. I took up smaller challenges, and I accomplished them as well. I was feeling bad about being overweight, so I restricted my diet and worked out. I’m almost near the goal weight that I had set for myself now. One more insecurity down. Now what?
I made myself self-sufficient, so that I don’t need to rely on anyone. Which again, put me in a fix. Do I even need anyone in my life? Maybe I could just get on with seeing people, once in a while, hanging out with friends whenever I felt like. No pressures, no responsibilities of maintaining anything.
I met a lot of interesting people during my internship. I knew that those connections wouldn’t last beyond the three months we would spend together in a closely confined space. And I was able to connect with people in-the-moment. Have no-strings-attached kind of friendships. I was surprised by my own ability to connect and disconnect with people in such short spans of time. That’s so unlike me!
I’ve been the person who has always tried to hold on to the people around me. I’ve been that person that has been scared of being alone. But now, I don’t feel so any more. I think I can forge equations, friendships and relationships of different kinds whenever I feel like. Without having to care about long-term consequences. I am not quite sure what brought me to this phase, but I don’t feel insecure about things any more. There are always interesting people I can meet. Feeling alone, is more of a state of mind. People are intrinsically good. And if you can make a real connection, no one really wants to abandon you. And everyone wants to make a connection. No one likes being alone all the time. People just have varying requirements of this so-called alone time.
So, I have to admit, I was very narrow-minded so far. I had razor sharp focus. But the whole world seems like an open playing field now. I brought myself to the champions’ league, and now, no matter how I perform, I will be valued. Things will look up for me. Is that over-confidence? Maybe. Most probably.
After I faced a series of failures, I set out to make sure I’m in a position where very few people would actually like to say no to me. And the sad part is, I’m aware that I am in that position now. I think I can have whatever I want. The caveat? I honestly don’t even know what I want any more. It’s as if I have a billion dollars, but I just can’t figure out what I want to spend on!
I need to set myself on a new path to discover my new self. But before I can choose which way I want to go, I need to slow down. Cause I’ve just reached an all-way stop sign.