What does sadness look like? I think that we all have some appreciation of it, and can describe its appearance in words beyond ‘blue’. What does depression look like? Clinically, many of us may not have experienced it, though certainly some of us have. I don’t claim to be depressed… it’s too strong of a word, and I’d not want to describe. However, if I had to describe the way I feel right now, I guess it’s fair to say that I feel ‘both within and beyond the deep blue; far enough away from the sun to shiver’.
The last time I wrote about PhD applications I spoke to the fact that I was rejected. I spoke to the fact that it hurt. What I haven’t publicly mentioned is that since that rejection, I was accepted to pursue a PhD in Education at Cambridge University, specifically focusing on improving the employment of ICT in secondary schools in various Caribbean countries and building children’s self-efficacy. It cheered me up a bit getting that acceptance and prospective supervision. Despite knowing that my estimations of self-worth should be internally constructed, that acceptance gave me a sense of validation. It helped me to feel like: Hey, I guess that I really am good enough— someone who’s already achieved what I want to believes that I can too!
That acceptance, late last year, was however followed by multiple funding (and other) rejections, and whilst I’ve been able to bounce back relatively quickly from the sting of each, it has cumulatively begun to take its toll. Each rejection leads to a string of internal statements – repetitive, deprecatory, sometimes unpleasantly honest, unoriginal statements:
‘I’m not smart enough; if I was then someone would see the value in supporting my ideas.’
‘It really was just a lucky break that got me there for the MPhil.’
‘You were too confident Kalifa… Take several seats; you’re not good enough to receive the necessary support to do a PhD at Cambridge.’
‘Your referees are probably exceedingly tired of writing you reference letters, and most certainly believe by now that you’re pretty unimpressive.’
‘You’re too lazy. You procrastinate and sleep too much.’
‘You need to work harder; others who wanted what you do have been able to secure it, plus much more. They achieved so much more than you because they are better than you.’
‘You’re at the bottom of the pile.’
‘You’re the only one from your MPhil class who was outright rejected to continue to the PhD.’
‘You weren’t able to get any government scholarship you applied for, much less from anywhere else.’
‘People look at you and think you’re smart, but you know better to not believe their wishful, consolatory thinking.’
‘You messed up, you’re slow, mediocre, lazy, and you’re not good enough to accomplish all that you dream of accomplishing. You’re also repetitive repetitive.’
…and it’s all humbled me. I think that I was relatively humble previously (probably that statement alone is indication that I wasn’t—humble folks don’t boast about being humble >_<), but having been turned down as I have, having questioned the validity not only of my worth, but of my aspirations and my imagined future-self-identity, it’s forced me to place into context a vastly overestimated self-competency. That is what I have been feeling as of late; a feeling that my current and imagined selves are crumbling, a feeling that my relationships will crumble too, and a feeling that maybe I was wrong about what I want to, and can, accomplish in life… a feeling that I’m being punished into submission for?/by?
I am not depressed though. My eyes watered… in that sort of verbose overdone elegantly wretched, etc, etc., etc., metaphorical poetry that life can sometimes feel like: ‘the deep blue depths of the ocean spilling through my window to the world…brrr.’ These words, I guess then, are like my tears… this social platform, my eyes; a window as opposed to a wall.
I take, in attempted stride, what is; in attempted contentment. I allow myself to feel the frustration that I do; to grieve the passing away of old assumptions as reality sets in, working through the pain that needs to be worked through. But, as does, and as shall, because I will, life must go on… not only with the recognition that the ocean depths are cold, but that cold water will sink further and further downward, taking all the salt/flavour/spice/me with it. But, as has been done before by many who face significantly more challenging pressures than I do, I’ll rise again. I’ve got arms, and though a poor swimmer, I can flail them with enough coordination to move forward and upward. There are hydrothermal vents, hotspots of life and vitality even at the ocean’s floor, and I have enough hope that surely enough I’ll find one.
Hire me to draw here: http://www.gofundme.com/FundJendayiKalifa