Sheree Bekker | I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be

This is a personal follow-on to my post on The Thesis Whisperer on why PhDs should use Twitter.

Actually, it should probably be read as the precursor. That was the ‘how’ I landed my PhD scholarship position, this is the ‘why’ I did so.

It has been twenty-two months since I landed in Australia to start my PhD.

You get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but that you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again ~ unknown

Liminality.

That has been my word over this time period. I believe that people often have words for spaces in their lives.

Perspective.

I landed in Australia having never been here before, and not knowing a soul.

That flight was probably one of the toughest things I have ever endured. Plucked out of my too comfortable existence, and suspended mid-air above the Indian Ocean, I felt utterly powerless to undo the events that had me hurtling forwards, shattered.

As I scroll back over my Facebook posts of the months prior to that flight, it pains me to see so clearly what those closest to me already knew. I was so deeply embedded within an existence that I refused to see how stagnant I had become. Some people live the same year 95 times and call it a life. Outwardly, I was carefully curating the image that I was living the dream – but introspection would have told me that I was stuck in a world of emotional interplay and unspoken social contracts. Study, career, marriage, babies. 

The person who was to pick me up from the airport was late. I was dazed. I wandered around Melbourne Tullamarine as if I had taken sleeping pills and they had not worn off yet (I hadn’t – but now that I think of it I should’ve! – but then again, the fact that I had that flight to really feel every raw emotion and not run was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me). When my lift eventually arrived, Aussie accent and all, I was surprised that I did not feel annoyed that he was running late. It was as if I knew that I just needed to accept that everything would be okay; that I would be okay. And it was. He even stopped and bought me ice-cream en route and at three o’clock in the morning, just because. It was the loveliest thing anyone could have done for me at that point. I cried.

Why did I go through with it? Why did I leave a job, a six-year relationship, the cat – the carefully-curated-seemingly-dream life based on unspoken social norms – to start over? 

Watching your own mind work, and recognising it, is something that society teaches us to supress. Forming patterns from thoughts, acknowledging the pattern of the patterns, and being open to the possibilities…this is why I left.

Following your intuition is a tremendous act of conscious intelligence ~ Sonia Choquette

It has not been easy, but it is simple. Being able to walk away from anything without regret allows me to edit the life that I want, not what is expected of me.

I hold space for my own life. Liminality.

The ways of being that I have explored of over these past twenty-two months have allowed me to hone my personal worldview. Learning that I am an INFJ, remembering that I love writing, cultivating essentialism, practicing meditation. This is an ongoing process. These concepts may not work for me in the future – but, nevertheless, I will be okay.

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be” ~ Joan Didion.

Hold space for your own life.

S