So the stress-filled, hazy dream of early September is over – my frantic scramble to find a way of shaking up the status quo, my critique of the university system, and my need to overcome a sense of emasculation after the PARE test.
I admit that, since I took the PARE test and subsequently failed it, I have been struggling with the idea that I am weak and incapable. I was also shaken in my assurance that I could be successful at endeavors I undertook. In accordance with my anxious nature, I saw my future unravel before me, bleak and dreary, highlighted by retail jobs and the bitter aftertaste of a complacently-received university degree with no effort to change myself as a person or develop my skill set.
My urgent desire to take a “year off” or start a “gap year“, as indicated in my previous post on this topic, was part and parcel with my sense of being physically and mentally incapable of any particular task. I also obsessed over the flaws of academia, office work, and my inability to fit socially into either. I saw the grass on the other side of the fence, and it appeared lush, green, and verdant. I ever so badly wanted to stand in it, let it tickle my toes, and allow its sense of newness to envelope my being.
As with any fiery desire, however, I now realize that the urges I felt were a part of my rocky and tumultuous relationship with what I was good at and enjoy very much (i.e. writing, reading, and researching). To put it into an analogy, I was fighting with myself in a mirror, with the lights turned off*.
Turning my face back to the task of academia will still be challenging, since there’s an ache in my heart left by the opportunity to explore unknown turf. But there’s a whole world out there, and I acknowledge that I’m coming out of a quick and violent love affair with the solidity and stability represented by a 38-week, Monday-Friday program. What I will be working within now (as I have been for the past two years) is the open schedule and surprising lack of a status quo that I have always enjoyed in graduate school.
To all those early or late 20-something’s struggling with your place in the world – I’m feelin’ ya over here!
*Postscript: A big thank you to all my wonderful supporters and mentors! You have all helped immensely as I continue on my personal journey.