A good friend once called me an endotherm, which is pretty much the coolest thing I have ever been called. We were discussing things we enjoy, swimming in cold water for me, cycling up mountains for him. Endotherms adapt to change by maintaining their body temperature, independent of their environment: not changing is key to their survival. They thrive in cold weather. Swimming now in October, in water that is changing its temperature daily, I started thinking about my own changes, and how I need to adapt if I am to thrive.
This has been a week of change on my PhD journey. It’s taken 18 months between wanting to do a PhD, and actually starting one. Last week I finally left my job, after a five month resignation period, a job I have been in for nearly ten years. A long time to be doing anything, really, certainly the longest in any job I have been lucky enough to have. In that time people I love came and went: the birth of my son, the death of my father. I did a lot of growing up in that job and learned how to (sometimes) balance the changes that came along. High tides and low tides.
But right now, this week, I feel like I am swimming between the tides. I’m neither one thing nor the other, and although this change is short-lived, it’s brand new. It’s a strange change, too, no longer owning the job title I once had. When people ask me what I do, I have to think carefully before I answer. My work identity has changed, too.
So what exactly does change when you step out of one life and into another? How do you exist between the tides as you become backwash? Life as an almost PhD student has comprised mainly of me walking a lot and reading other people’s PhD’s. I have read Sara Ahmed’s and c n lester’s incredible new books, and drawn up study schedules to ring fence the forty hours a week the PhD needs. I promised I would still see my family at the weekend, and made my friends promise to count me in for Christmas drinks. I once again have an NUS card, something not in my possession since the early 90’s, and my once former purple staff card has changed to a new, blue student one. The house is decluttered to ward off future procrastination, and my pens are lined up.
This may not be the longest blog, but it’s an important one, one which will help to remind me how I felt about the changes ahead. Perhaps it will serve as a measure of how I adapted to my new environment, and thrived on the changes I made.
Swimming between the tides, I will remember to be grateful for them.