last week was your birthday, which you spent in an exhausted, buzzed state that had you drinking straight from a beer pitcher in a bowling alley. It was exactly what you had been picturing a few nights before as you hastily planned a birthday get-together, and you were pretty darn happy.
I’m glad you’ve come a long way.
The last two years felt a little like a struggle, a bump in the road – or sometimes, even the very end of the road. Grad school knocked the wind out of you and made you question everything you thought you knew about yourself, or more precisely, all things you thought you did well. Things you seemed to excel at before did not come to you so easily anymore. It no longer felt like you had the upper hand, a willing ear and an impressed audience. You were always ahead of the pack, so used to being coddled as the “smart one” – scholarships! special placement! first place or near-first! – but you just couldn’t do it in grad school. The teachers seemed so terrifyingly cold or just not interested in you, dense theory texts just didn’t make any sense, and most importantly, you felt so miniscule and insignificant in this not-so-big but bigger-than-your-original-”home”-turf Kingston. Even though nothing fell apart and you did just fine by the end, everything did fall apart in another sense. You still can’t bring yourself to read your papers, the research paper that was so difficult to write. It feels like you failed somehow. Because you knew you could make it better had you had more time or more energy, but you just couldn’t at that very moment when it had to be handed in.
But that’s all over now.
You used to live with a lot of regret – what if you chose another grad school and fit in so well there that you would never be torturing yourself like this? what if you chose a roommate more thoughtfully so she wouldn’t be cruelly kicking you out when you were writing your final papers? wouldn’t you have written a better paper then? what if you made All The Wrong Choices? But I noticed that you’re no longer doing this to yourself anymore; in fact, everything seems a bit calmer now and it feels as though things are turning out very well. Even though there’s still no clear answer on what to do next (as opposed to 2 years ago, when you knew exactly what to do every time), you feel at peace for the most part. And hey, you have a job that you like to do, and even had 2 other offers that you had to consider before getting to choose this one!
And the blogging! You thought you forgot how to write other than mediocre academic essays, but the internet that you always loved had a better answer. I know you feel fortunate to be having a medium to write regularly, express your thoughts from your unique perspective and background. You were once so ashamed of being a person of colour. Your otherness felt like a hindrance. All the marks of difference – from the weird egg sandwiches mom would make to the humiliated silence at a taunting boy’s question “why do you never talk?” during your ESL days – shamed you. You longed to be just like Carrie Bradshaw in high school! But don’t ever let yourself forget that. Those days existed so you could provide the anti-racist and feminist perspective to the little readers out there, and be committed to the cause.
Be kind to yourself. You’ve been doing pretty well since April – taking yourself to the gym regularly, cooking for yourself and your ever-so-patient significant other, making time to meet friends – and life is so much better that way. When you’re not kind to yourself, you are not so kind to others. It’s something you’re trying to fix, but there’s still a long way to go. At least you’re aware of that now.
Yes, you are a little dramatic, a little self-absorbed, and very lazy at times. Sometimes you will eat an entire bag of chips because they’re there and you can’t stop; sometimes you will read blogs for hours at a time when you swore you were going to Get Stuff Done. You get inappropriately obsessed with other people’s pets but can’t seem to commit to one yourself. But you are now 24, and you already have 2 degrees (even though that doesn’t mean much these days), and you have people believing you (who are not just your parents). And isn’t that something?