Six months ago, this was not the plan. After not receiving funding I put my PhD dreams away and turned instead to my love of adventure, nature and travel. The plan had been to work for a season leading road trips all over the country, save some money, buy a van and fix it up. From there I was going to spend a winter working a ski season and the spring living out of my van climbing and training for bigger and better mountains. I would do this, I thought, for a few years…until I got tired of it, Then I would go to Dubai or China and teach.
This was the plan.
Then something happened. I couldn’t close this door that I had for so long propped open. This door that had become an essential part of me, or at least an essential need of mine. Something I had to do to prove to myself I could. Something that would make all of the hard things I have faced in the past worth it. I guess I figured if I did this, then it would really mean I was more than the sum of my circumstance.
It may sound foolish, and it probably is, but in many ways, the PhD was never about the job, it was not a means to an end. It was an end in and of itself. And accomplishment that would be tangible evidence of my worth maybe, or more likely, the gateway into a new perspective of myself and life in general.
I am quickly learning that it is just that, but not in the way I expected. Maybe some people will relate, maybe others doing this will not at all, I do not know if I am the only one affected this much or this deeply, but so far this has been an absolute beatdown. Moving here has not been an easy transition, as I have talked about in the past. In the last few weeks I have finally begun to feel like that has passed, I am beginning to get comfortable here and comfortable in my aloneness, so when I say this is a beatdown I only mean to include this factor a little.
What has actually been difficult is coming face to face with my own insecurities, my own value I have for myself. This has typically not been an area I am particularly strong with. I question my capabilities constantly, and this is not about the work being difficult, although it is. I question my capabilities at a real deep and fundamental level of my being. It hits that part of me that is weak like a sucker punch to the gut. But I am still standing.
This is why I say I think doing this is a gateway to a new way of being. Not because of the knowledge I will amass, the skills I will learn, or the job I will be able to get, but because in doing this I am exposing those raw and vulnerable parts of myself. The insecurities. The weakness. I am facing my personal internal demons in ways others might not see from the outside. And I am still standing.
Some days I come home and feel so insignificant, so intellectually incapable its all I can do to not walk away and go get that van, but then I go to sleep and wake up the next day and get up to go get beat mentally all over again. And I guess all I can do is keep enduring. Keep getting up till eventually I have the strength and capability to destroy this mean, nasty voice in my head once and for all. And that will be a glorious day.
So yes, most days I wish I had bought a van, but this quest that I am on with myself, the vulnerability I am choosing to stand in and face daily, this existential journey towards authentic understanding of who I really am and what I am really capable of, that is not something many people ever choose to face in their lives, so I will be strong in that.