After the dizzying and exhilarating thrill of settling into LSE, I suddenly find myself in week 6 and halfway through the term. November is here and I remain in disbelief that so much time has passed.
Today, I submitted my dissertation research proposal. I felt a happy release for a moment, but a tidal wave of stress encroached on my happiness. My mind was immediately filled with other obligations. “…Tomorrow, I voice student concerns to my department as a program representative. I should plan logistics for my departmental retreat to Cumberland Lodge this weekend. I also to need to figure out how to master the growing pile of reading I haven’t been able to tackle yet because of this year’s blistering pace…”
Everything is happening so fast now. Sometimes I picture myself in the middle of the ocean: only managing to stay afloat instead of treading water and determining my course. It has become a matter of survival instead of thriving.
After I submitted my proposal, I retreated to the New Academic Building and decided to treat myself to a smoothie at the Mezzanine Café, a place I haven’t been yet. I started filling out my weekly planner and felt the onset of worry and anticipation. Instead of dwelling in this fog, I was eager to come out of it.
I slowed my breath and focused on the sensation of breathing. I stepped out of the trappings of my mind and inhabited my body. I focused on the people around me: all of them bustling with intention in their own spheres of experience. I became present and free from the timeless purgatory of my circulatory thoughts.
Great clarity emerged from this. My memory replayed my course leading up to this moment. I remembered that I was in London, a city I grew to love four years ago and wanted to return to ever since. I specifically imagined I would go to the LSE. I unthinkingly accepted my first job offer after undergrad and worked in a position I cared little for at a small company with low morale. I needed to make money and bide time until I was ready for a graduate study. I spent a year and a half working and felt intellectually stagnant. I was waiting for a proper challenge and wanted to work for something that I thought was worth the toil.
Now, I’m here. Though the experience has been full of challenges, I realize that I came here to be challenged. I asked for all of this. I am being stretched in every possible way, emotionally and intellectually. In order for me to come out of this differently than how I came into it, I have to confront these issues in new ways. Personal growth cannot happen in an incubator without discomfort. I have to overcome my avoidance tendency and confront these fears head-on, even if it means being scared and having to constantly re-center myself.
So here’s to you and I. Let’s keep getting lost and finding our footing. See you at the other end 🙂