I’ve been speaking to someone about academic networking and PhD funding. I always assumed a PhD was what I wanted to do. Then after last year’s crisis I decided I wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t determined enough, didn’t have the staying power, to get what I wanted out of university life. The lovely person I have been speaking to has gone someway to convincing me that no, they don’t just give AHRC funding away to people who aren’t clever and good at what they do. I have time to find a supervisor and get a decent proposal in for a 2016 start (after I finish my MA at Goldsmith’s). I have time to network and make myself known on the academic scene, where it is all about who you know, rather than what. I am smart enough but I’m not bold enough. Not yet.
I have no idea what I hope to do with my second MA. This becomes increasingly clear to me as the time approaches. I am scared and uncertain. I go through all the possibilities: get the MA and get on an occupational therapy course; get the MA and teach creative writing at a university; get the MA and teach spoken word poetry to kids in schools. Get a PhD; get a “proper job”; man up and develop the confidence to become a journalist; get back on the dole and learn to love it. That last one is my fear. That I will learn to love doing “nothing” until “they” force me into a job I hate, in which I will live out the rest of my days. That’s pure pessimism. That’s ridiculous. There is no reason for that to happen to me, unless I make it happen.
My future has been more uncertain than this. Coming out of undergrad I didn’t know my head from my arse (that’s a saying right?). I wanted an MA in Amsterdam but needed to stay in Edinburgh. I wanted a job I loved and ended up cleaning toilets. I didn’t know what I wanted to do- if I did, I could have gone for it, and I might be somewhere different today. That isn’t wishful thinking- I am actually really glad for the way things eventually turned out, and I couldn’t have wished for better than this scholarship and this MA. I just mean that, had I known what I wanted, I would have tried to get it. I didn’t know, so I drifted through patches of unemployment, years of heavy drinking, a break-up and intermittent work cleaning other peoples’ shit or trying to raise money for charities.
Where was my point? Ah yes. After the conversation I had today, I feel inspired. I can get PhD funding, if that’s what I decide I want to do (and I think, deep down, it is). My future hasn’t been this uncertain in a little while. But for once, I realise that could be an exciting thing.