I wrote the final comprehensive exam for my PhD on September 9, 2017. Yesterday, October 27, I felt as though I had enough time to recover from the energy and stress it took to prepare and write the exam. It has been an untimely stressful period of my life, the last three months in particular, have felt quite draining in many ways, al ways, but just now I feel as though the parts of me that retain energy, not just sustain the energy needed to function, are slowly filling. Like an oxygen tank holding onto air for the return of a scuba dive, my energy too needed to hold on for the return to normal life post-comp, but unfortunately the energy, due to many different instances, was depleted, leaving my to swim back to the surface holding my breath.
How do I always find a way to use water as a metaphor for my mental state in some way here?
The filling of the energy took a lot out of me. It took spending less hours a day working on my research and being with other people. It took scheduling some serious reflection time, exploration of self and space, and lots of time recharging my physical body and eyes as I worked up the momentum to dive back in again.
The surface, it seems, was farther than expected. Working with little to no breaks is not sustainable, and so I had to take drastic measures to get back here.
I finally feel like I have enough to fight, to work, to enjoy the things that I love again. I’m about to embark on three very short but consecutive trips in November, and a fial one in December, to make this a very busy month, probably the busiest since I was in Europe five years ago for travelling. All have value, all have excitement, and all have the potential to knock the air mask off my face before I have a chance to take a breath.
Preparation, then, is essential for my energy reserves. They’re about 1/3 full now, and I have two weeks to feel as though I could make the trip and return, and I am confident that it will happen. Travel, both for my personal and professional lives, comes not with a price of exhaustion (although that does come) but moreso the price of leaving something—I mean to say that I love travel, intensely. I Igor not be enthralled with navigating an airport, but the adrenaline from landing in a new place, from stepping out of a door to a new world, recharges me on its own. Just looking forward to boarding my first flight connecting me to Calgary and then off to Kelowna for a dear friend’s wedding makes me giddy—The energy available, the possibilities, these are the qualities that bring me up.
So the anticipation has definitely helped me get to where I am now. Anticipation and hard, devoted work to taking care in many ways. And guess what? My work and life is better for it. I hate that I inserted “work” before “life” there, maybe I will rephrase: I’ve brought play, and joy, and rest, to the forefront of my life, and work takes a second to all three of those things. I’ve found myself more grounded in my work because I’m allowing myself space to be a human again, and for that I think I need to remember—for the future, for next term, where I will be grounded in more coursework and deadline-driven work, where I will have more pressures than just the work given to me (but above, beyond, and through it more will come). A busy year, 2018 is already turning out to be and we are still two months away.
So cheers to the next two months of absolute enthralling joy. To making good choices for our lives, and to being present and grounded in the things we choose to do.