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Drive and academic identity


I posted a few days ago about the decrease in the number of book reviews that I’ve been posting recently, focusing instead on recipes, TV and film reviews, and other things that come under the ‘personal’ tag. In thinking more about this decrease in my emotional drive to read fiction, I realised that it began around two months ago when – surprisingly – I finally submitted my PhD applications.

I went through my Masters part-time whilst working full-time (and wrote about it here under the MA tag), and I’ve applied to do my PhD in the same vein. I finished my Masters at the beginning of 2013, and over the rest of that year, I spent quite a lot of time fiddling with my proposal, and even got around to starting to plan chapters, structure, etc. I fiddled and fiddled because I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe I’d leave it another year. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a full-time academic. I wasn’t sure I needed a PhD. I was sure that I wanted to do one, at some point, but the modalities were hazy in my mind. When I finally submitted my applications (only two. I won’t mention to where), it was a concerted effort, a deliberate push, and it left me intellectually tired afterwards.
Whilst that’s natural, needing a break turned into a sort of forced hiatus as I waited for the outcome of the applications. I’m still waiting, but now I’m frustrated at myself for stopping, reading and writing. I’m frustrated at myself for externalising my motivation for reading, writing and thinking. I am not doing it to please an institution or tick boxes to earn a qualification. I am doing it because I find joy in the thinking, writing and reading. I am still not sure whether I ever want to be a full-time academic, so why have I let myself be sucked into some imaginary treadmill of academic work, done only for external validation? What on earth have I been thinking, waiting for some sort of academic life to start when I am the only person responsible for whether I live that way…?
I’m tired of being frustrated at myself, so why not just get on and do it? I hope that I get accepted onto one of the programmes I’ve applied for, but if I don’t, there’s no reason why I can’t keep on going.
Step 1: updating my academia.edu profile.
Step 2: where the hell did that notebook go?!

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